International Women’s Day: Q&A with Grace Yip

International Women’s Day: Q&A with Grace Yip

Fay Phillips-Jones International Women's Day

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 Grace Yip, Managing Director, Head of HR, Accenture ASEAN.

How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

Confidence is the outward display of an internal, personal belief that an individual can effectively achieve the outcomes set out in a job. Very often, perception is the reality for people, so the ability to come across as credible without being arrogant and clearly articulating the ‘how to achieve an outcome’ is very important.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

It is not uncommon that when faced with a new opportunity for growth, women often think long and hard about it. This can also be true for men – confidence gaps aren’t exclusively felt by women. But I do see it far too often with women. For many, the need to feel completely certain before accepting a new challenge and this often entails mapping out every detail, step and path to success before they are willing to give it a shot. Sometimes, the confidence gap does stop them from taking on a new challenge. The fear of failure can be overwhelmingly real to them. When coaching women, I often ask them to think about past situations where they have been able to achieve success where they have not always had a clear pathway forward. How did they do it? What was important to navigating towards success? Often just giving them the opportunity to articulate these thoughts helps them to understand that with many growth opportunities, we don’t always know if we will be successful, but a combination of our experience and capabilities and the right support will enable us to be successful. We just need to be courageous to take the first step. I often ask women to think about why they were presented with the opportunity in the first place. Sometimes they just need a bit of encouragement to get moving in the right direction.

How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?

I am a firm believer in the risk-reward equation. Calculated risks are the only way you can grow and also create a differentiated personal brand for yourself. It is also important to make sure that there is a clear reward at the end of the stretch assignment. For as long as I remember, I have always challenged myself to do new and different things in order to keep learning and growing. Perhaps it is also in my nature to keep doing this as I get bored easily if I feel like I am doing repetitive work and I stop learning. For me, staying ahead of the curve is critical. To do that I have to keep on my toes, understand where I need to continue to grow and evolve my skills and proactively look for those stretch assignments that will allow me to do just that.

Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividends?

Not long ago, I took on a role that required me to build a human capital analytics capability from scratch. Before that, I had some awareness and understanding on some aspects of how predictive analytics work but I did not possess hands-on experience. Saying yes to that role meant that I would, for the first time, work through constructing the operating model and service delivery of the human capital analytics capability, define the data requirements for a sustainable long-term solution, hire the team and execute a few key projects within a short time span of 1.5 years. Collaboration with the right subject matter experts was the key to my success. The learnings I gained from of that experience was incredible and it helped differentiate me from other HR practitioners especially in Asia as I now had the experience which was much sought after.

How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?

It is very important. Having someone you trust who has your interests at heart and can listen, ask the right questions, share their experience and also help you navigate your circumstances can make a tremendous impact. I bounce off ideas and growth opportunities with my own mentors and sponsors. They have helped me see where my blind spots are and often have opened the right doors to new opportunities. Likewise, I mentor and coach both men and women in my organization.  

How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?

At Accenture, we run a program called Insight where some of our high-potential women are coached by women managing directors. It is a high-touch, experience-driven session where the primary focus is around building confidence, skills and a supportive network towards becoming a future managing director at Accenture. The session is specifically designed to address the challenges and mental roadblocks that are common amongst women. I was fortunate to be a beneficiary of this program in the early days of its implementation and I have personally benefited greatly from it. Today, I volunteer as a faculty member, as I have seen the tremendous difference this program has made for our women.