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What Got Her There? Leadership Tips from Datuk Carol Chan

Petite and soft-spoken, Datuk Carol Chan is an engaging story-teller. Currently, she sits on the Board of Directors of Ann Joo Resources Berhad, APM Automotive Holdings Berhad and GHL Systems Berhad, public listed on the Malaysian stock exchange.

Dato’ Carol Chan began her accountancy training with one of the top accounting firms and moved to the corporate sector where she gained most of her experience in large public listed companies. She has more than 30 years’ experience with public listed companies spanning across industries (too long to be listed here). She has held several key management positions and was a member of various group committees in a large public listed conglomerate.

So What got her there? Her stories must be listened to “live”. So short of that, here’s an extract of the leadership tips I got by sitting with her over a cuppa.

1) Courage to Speak Up and Show Up. “If you want a role, it’s perfectly fine to say it, own it and ask. People need to know, and when you say it, people will have you in mind if any opportunity shores up,” she elaborates. In her own journey, she shares her views openly and respectfully, with the aim to provide value to the business that she serves with no personal agenda. “It’s for the interest of the business as I truly want to contribute,” she adds.

When you show up and provide value, people take notice and trust is built.

2) Be Conscious – Leaders, your actions can change the trajectory of another person’s life, even if the act seems small to you. In her junior days, Datuk Carol recollected, she was at a career cross-road when she was lucky enough to have met the Chairman of a large organization, who, in her first meeting with him, took the effort to inquire about her career and encouraged her. This led her down the path to where she is today. If she had a nasty experience, her path may have been very different.

As Leaders, how we encourage and discourage affects others. Decide your impact. Be conscious of it.

3) Connect Others through your network. Perhaps, it’s become her habit. Datuk Carol listens curiously to the stories of others. As she listens, she seems to be actively scanning for links and possible connections she can help others with. A Jack Welch quote comes to mind: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.”

Connecting others creates an opportunity for others to grow new experiences.

The best part about my conversation with Datuk Carol was not only what she said but my experience of who she was.

She gave me a peek into the Art of Humility and the Heart of Curiosity about people and possibilities.

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