Top trumps alert! What are the three cards you’ve played to help you get where you are in your career?

While studying at Uni, I got elected to lead one of the biggest and oldest student NGOs. I experienced firsthand to lead, inspire and motivate over 800 members daily, develop long-term strategy, organise structure and work flows as well as fully manage it financially. It gave me incredible insights into leadership at a very young age.

My corporate career started on the agency side (Ogilvy & Mather, Singapore) sitting in the creative department surrounded amongst the most creative and working with the most talented people in the whole of the industry worldwide. This set my bar very high when it comes to quality/standard of work especially when it comes to understanding the power of creativity.

When I moved to client side, I worked for founder-led indie brands which often meant operating a lot like a start-up where I was the ultimate decision maker which let me experiment a lot. As a result, we developed rather bold, loud and brave campaigns/activations that cemented the brands as disruptors within their categories and got them to stand out.  

Ballsiness, being the bossy boots, Machiavellian ruthlessness - why do many women feel that they need to act tough to succeed? What are the real hallmark signs of good female leaders?

Women are known to be emphatic leaders which is incredibly important given our current geo-political and economic climate. A research published by global not-for-profit Catalyst in 2021 that surveyed around 900 employees (in the US) found that that empathic leadership had a major impact on key areas of the organisations:

:: 61% (of employees) were able to innovate more

:: 76% reported they were engaged 

:: 57% of white women and 62% of women of colour said they were unlikely of leaving their companies

:: 50% reported their workplace was inclusive

:: 86% reported they are able to navigate the demands of their work and life—successfully juggling their personal, family and work obligations

Empathy contributes to positive relationships and organisational cultures and it also drives business results. So quite the opposite from the statement above, emphatic women leadership is crucial while building businesses powered for the future.

Who has inspired you in your career? Why?

Various founders and leadership in the businesses I work for but always with the mantra of when you feel you become the smartest person in the room, you need to leave the room. By constantly moving around you get to meet aspirational people you can learn from.

If you could wave your magic wand and right one wrong in the workplace, what would it be and what would you do?

Unequal pay. I just cannot comprehend how on earth it is still very common to pay women less for the role with the same responsibilities and experience/background/qualifications – it is totally mad! That’s why I joined CHIEF.

The route to success is never smooth. What tips, professional, personal, and leftfield, would you give rising stars, if you were starting out today?

Take as much workload as possible across different tasks and projects at an early stage of your career.  Getting exposed to different departments/business units, disciplines, brands or whatever that is in the future will serve you enormously and contribute while forming your overall knowledge of the industry. If you want to lead in the future, you will need to know the ins/outs of it and the best way to do it is through hands-on experience.

Choose whom to work for (boss/mentor/leader) over a fancy title or a slightly better pay. Observe well the leaders who make it happen for their teams, this is where you want to be. Very often a supportive leader/mentor who believes in you and who has lots of influence in the business will get you where you want faster when it comes to your career progression. It’s not about working harder, it’s working for the right people that are able to provide the ladder.

Big fish small pond or small fish big pond. Lots of early career starters get mesmerised by big brands or companies. Whereas it is a great place to learn, later on a smaller company provides you with the opportunity to work on more areas, move fast when it comes to decision making, experiment and get recognised quicker. Hence working for a fast-growing business can be more transformative for your career. 

Nora has spent over 15 years in marketing and advertising within personal care and beauty industries. Having worked on both creative agency and brand side, Nora has in-depth knowledge of both worlds and therefore her experience and expertise are widely appreciated among the industry. Known for creative and disruptive thinking and being outspoken, Nora is often seen in panels and talks where she shares her passion for Gen Z marketing, metaverse and web3 and building indie brands across DTC/e-commerce and retail environments.