From The Straits Times    |

They may come from different industries and diverse backgrounds, but the eight mentors with Her World’s inaugural Mentorship Programme have plenty in common: For one, they are keen to lend their insights and advice from their own journeys.

Many of them have also had non-linear career paths, sometimes taking leaps of faith to land their biggest breakthroughs. Others have struggled with being the only woman in the room, or juggling the realities of being a mother, wife, and daughter. We hear from our mentors directly, and learn how the power of mentorship has helped in their own careers.

Loo Wan Shan, Product owner (Robotics and Intelligent Machine), Dyson

Wan Shan’s biggest mistake in her career journey thus far was when she was “passive and afraid to switch career lanes”. “It only led to disappointment and frustration,” she explains. “The turning point in my career began when I learnt to embrace failure and started taking active steps to find my path.”

She was looking for a career that would allow for more creativity, and one that would make a more visible impact on products. After working in supply chain for seven years, she decided to make a career switch to software development in 2017.

Making a career leap between different fields and starting anew in a different industry can be intimidating, but adopting a growth mindset is key, adds Wan Shan.

“I used to believe that achievements only count when there is a major breakthrough or if it’s a long-term goal. I’ve come to realise that it’s also equally important to celebrate the little wins in life to keep us motivated!” she shares.

What do you hope to achieve as a mentor?

I hope that my experience in switching careers will be able to help mentees in similar situations, so they can find clarity in their own career journey.

What has been the lowest point of your career, and how did you overcome it?

During the lowest point of my career, I was pulling long hours juggling two different roles at my previous company. The immense workload, lacklustre compensation, and an absence of managerial support meant that I couldn’t perform to the best of my abilities, and eventually, my mental health took a hit as well. In response to the situation, I reached out to a mentor for advice and managed to get the support I needed.

Eventually, I decided to move on to a better opportunity at Dyson, and I’m finding it to be a really supportive and authentic environment, where managers genuinely care for my mental health and well-being.

How has mentorship helped you?

Through my time in the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC), a local non-profit, I met Trina Liang-Lin, president of Women in Sustainability and Environment (WISE), which aims to include more women in the fight for greater green participation. The best advice she gave me is to inspire others through action. She did this by putting herself out there to empower others, being steadfast in what she believes in, and connecting people together.

The second mentor would be Graham Kennedy, a product leader whom I met during my career transition in Dyson. He taught me how to apply OKR (Objectives and Key Results) in my life – focus on the whys and outcomes!

What advice would you share with someone who’s switching careers?

Be flexible. Having the ability to adapt to different circumstances during a period of change will open you up to interesting and new opportunities.

Do you have any tips for our mentees?

Remain curious, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to experiment with what works for you.

About the Her World Mentorship Programme

Whether you’re just starting out or at a crossroads in your career, Her World’s Mentorship Programme connects mentees with influential women who are leaders in their respective fields. Besides professional development, one stands to build valuable connections as well as gain professional insight and female support from this peer community.

PHOTOGRAPHY Veronica Tay
ART DIRECTION Adeline Eng
STYLING ASSISTANCE Lena Kamaruddin
HAIR & MAKEUP Aung Apichai / Artistry, using Shu Uemura & Kevin Murphy; Benedict Choo, using Laura Mercier