Mei Yee Pang is the Head of Asia Pacific, Global Practice Lead for Supply Chain & Analytics Practice at DHL Consulting, currently based in Singapore.
Since you’re in a fairly new job, perhaps you can tell us a bit about your role and your background with DHL?
I have been with DHL in various capacities for the past 15 years, with the common theme of building teams, services and capabilities. My current role revolves around building the data science capability for DHL Consulting at a global level. This has been a very fragmented space so we are focused on supporting our clients to use technology such as machine learning and AI, create new ways to make sense of their data and use new IOT-enabled products to help create value across the end to end supply chain.
You have an Accountancy degree from NTU and an early career in Audit. How did you get on that journey and what prompted your move into consulting?
I was young and didn’t know what to do. I remember asking myself the question: what types of jobs can build a good foundation for my future career? Among the handful of options, I picked to move into professional services. Although I realised it was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my career, I did it for three years before taking my MBA. I was lucky enough to have met the right mentors early on and be given the exposure to start moving into leadership roles in very interesting domains.
What are some of the things you are particularly proud about in your career?
I am really happy that I have had the opportunity to make a difference in people’s careers and influence their ways of thinking. The most satisfying part of my job is seeing the development of people in becoming Supply Chain leaders in DHL and beyond. I also really enjoy how my role allows me to play a part in shaping business decisions. I am part of a sector that is changing so quickly, with the pressure to drive adaptation, the disruption of the e-Commerce business model, and of course the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chains are critical at this juncture where they are, for example, responsible for bringing essential services to people’s homes.
What does Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?
I firmly believe that diverse teams are more successful. Forming a team of people from different professional backgrounds offers a very unique position to be successful. I have team members all over the world who bring their cultural differences and have found that the D&I topic is more formalised in Europe. An equally important topic is equality, so we put a lot of focus on training our people in things like identifying unconscious bias.
The role of D&I is very central to innovation. I have often hired externally from broad backgrounds, not necessarily supply chain trained but those who have interesting ideas and will challenge the norm. It is about hiring a fresh mindset with the right level of enthusiasm and having the energy to create a solution that the industry has struggled with.
What has been your personal experience as a female climbing the career ladder?
I have been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and always with high levels of support. I have never felt compromised as a woman and I think being a woman has a positive impact now if anything for career development. I have had experiences that made me feel uncomfortable, but you learn to adapt and they have never developed into a problem. For example, when I lived in Germany, as a female of Asian nationality who did not speak German, it was not easy. It did, however, give me the experience and skillset to return to Asia as a stronger leader.
What would your advice be to someone who is starting their career?
The first thing would be that it is okay to not know what your next steps are. Go with your heart, experience life, and experiment. I definitely made the right decision picking a safe profession to kickstart my career but don’t allow fear to prevent you from doing something different. Get comfortable with the unknown, maybe even take a sabbatical or reskill.
Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith. Take chances. It is so important to enjoy what you do, so it may not always be about taking a job that would directly move your career forward. A career trajectory is sometimes sideways or even backwards but this is perfectly acceptable.
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