#IWD2020: Mentorship key to grooming women leaders

Giet Koh, Head of Account Management at Deliveroo Singapore, believes mentorship is key for more women to be in leadership positions.
By: | March 6, 2020
Topics: DE&I | Features | IWD | Uncategorized

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s appreciate the women in our lives and at work too. Women continue to inspire us in our workplace. In our special IWD 2020 coverage, we speak to women leaders who share their thoughts and advice on how women can thrive and succeed at the workplace.

In this exclusive IWD feature, we speak to Giet Koh, Head of Account Management at Deliveroo Singapore to get her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace, and her advice for women who aspires to be leaders.

Koh is the Head of Account Management at Deliveroo Singapore, where she mentors the team in driving growth of restaurant partners on the platform. While the world of tech start-ups is traditionally a male-dominated field, Koh is proving that with passion and the right attitude, anyone can rise through the ranks. Prior to Deliveroo, Koh started her career as a teacher for seven years, before first venturing into the public sector as a strategic engagement senior manager at Sport Singapore.

Tell us a little bit of yourself and your career so far
Prior to Deliveroo, I started my career in education, working as a teacher for seven years before venturing into the public sector as a strategic engagement senior manager at Sport Singapore. At Sport Singapore, I was involved in policy formulation and forging partnerships with public and private agencies, to further the agenda of sports promotion in Singapore. In between my public sector stint and Deliveroo, I took a year-long sabbatical to intern at an early stage business strategy consulting start-up, using design thinking to develop solutions.

What is your organization doing to address the issue of gender equality?
For a tech start up company like Deliveroo which is traditionally a male-dominated field, more than 50% of leadership positions in the Singapore team are filled by women. We’ve always maintained a fair and meritocratic system, and since the early days of the company, our UK headquarters has worked hard to make gender disparity non-existent. The company has always adopted a gender-blind approach in the way we work, and there are systems in place to ensure that this is not overlooked.

What can be done to groom more women to take up leadership roles?
A lot can be done to groom more women to take up leadership roles, such as putting in place mentorship or coaching programs, whether it’s women to women or men to women. Personally, I think that being a role model and making yourself accessible to young managers goes a long way in giving them an advantage in moving into a leadership role.

What are the challenges women leaders face, especially in male-dominated industries?
In a male-dominated workplace, opportunity often lands itself on those who are more dominant, which means that women often have to strike a balance of being more outspoken without coming across as too dictatorial. I too faced similar obstacles when I was starting out as a manager in the past. I’ve been asked to be more vocal as I was deemed to be too quiet. Years later I’m glad I stuck to my own working style and stayed true to myself. Overall, I believe that by doing away with outdated stereotypes around women’s behaviour and how we should act will pave the way for a fairer workplace for all.

There’s still a gender pay gap in this region. What can be done to bridge the gap?
Singapore as a society, the government and companies themselves need to take a long hard look at why a gender pay gap still exists in one of the most developed countries in Asia. The current gap is unfair and nobody should be paid less because of their sex, but rather remunerated fairly based on their skills and talent.

How do you juggle between your career and family?
I strive to strike a good work-life balance and try my best to not bring work home, but admittedly I can sometimes be a workaholic. In my free time, I play rugby at least three times a week and volunteer as a coach at a local club where I’ve represented Singapore in Rugby 15s since 2008. As well as being cathartic and a stress relief, I believe that participating in a team sport cultivates values like resilience, discipline and teamwork.

What advice would you give to women who aspire to be leaders?
It’s important for women to be confident and be proud of what they’ve achieved – don’t be shy to talk about it! Although we live in the age of social media, women often shy away from sharing their work achievements as they are afraid of judgement from others. As women, we need to share our achievements so that more women can be proud and be seen for what they have done for their companies and even for their families. Lastly, I think women should never be afraid to be vulnerable in the workplace, especially women in leadership positions. It sounds like an oxymoron but if we make feeling vulnerable in the workplace more of a norm, everyone can be stronger and feel more empowered to do the work that they do.

International Women’s Day Features:

Possibilities endless for women in the workplace – Jeanne Achille, Founder and CEO of The Devon Group

Organisations can do more to support women – Joy Koh, Head of Consulting APAC at Alexander Mann Solutions

We need to challenge stereotypes of women – Vivian Chua, Vice-President, Singapore Managing Director, HP

More needs to done to recognise women – Roselin Lee, Vice President of Human Resources, Shiseido Asia Pacific

Women should have equal access to leadership roles – Gladys Chun, Head of Legal, Compliance and Government Affairs, Lazada Group