Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.
We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women's Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.
We interviewed Christina Lu, Senior Vice President, Human Resources & Communication, Volvo Group Trucks Asia & JVs.
How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?
Confidence is about displaying managerial courage and be an authentic leader. With confidence, one will be able to articulate her views well but at the same time, be open to other ideas. When it comes to career aspiration, one should be open to venture into new challenges and taking some risks.
How do you think the confidence gap affects women?
I do not like to use a general statement to define that women have confidence gaps. I believe this is evident in both genders. It is certainly the organisation’s responsibility to create a conducive environment for people with high potentials to unleash their potential. In Volvo Group, we have put a solid talent program in place for career growth, promoting internal career mobility.
How important is to have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.
This is absolutely important. I am always open to try new challenges. To start a new role, I first seek to understand what my mission is and how I can value add to the business. Once I have a clear business plan, the rest is about good leadership to leverage the team’s potential to deliver results.
How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?
I would say I have tried venturing into different industries, from Defence, Banking to Automotive, from soft products (financial services) to hard products (construction equipment/trucks). Each time, I start afresh and appreciate the different industries and continue to learn.
Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividends?
Before I took this global role in Group Trucks Asia & JVs within Volvo Group, I was in a smaller outfit heading APAC Financial Services after a 6-year stint in Volvo Construction Equipment. My manager was surprised that I took a smaller role and, in his words, I have downgraded my position. I went into financial services because I wanted a new challenge within Volvo Group and that paid off. Now, I am Senior Vice President, HR & Communication for GTA & JVs. To be successful, one needs to be agile and demonstrate the capability of taking different roles even if sometimes it could be perceived a smaller role.
How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?
Mentoring and Coaching are very good support to young women who are in their talent development journey.
How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?
Confidence cannot be taught. However, organisations can create a conducive and safe environment for talents to grow.
What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?
Be authentic, do not act like a man when you are a woman.