Eileen Yap, General Manager (Singapore and Malaysia), RS Components, believes that the role of a leader is to foster a culture of openness and trust in the team and make employees feel that their ideas and contributions matter and that the organisaiton is stronger because of them.
How did you get to where you are at RS Components? And what was the most memorable part of your journey?
I started my career in 2004 at CCS Asia, a lighting and optical solutions technology company, where I worked for over 5 years. I started as Indoor Sales & Procurement Executive and made my way up to Senior Sales Engineer.
In 2009, I decided to move to RS Components to take up a more challenging and rewarding career. I have now been part of this incredible team for over 11 years, working with numerous collaborators on different accounts across the region.
It has been a wonderful journey and I am both proud to have been appointed General Manager for Singapore and Malaysia back in February 2018 where my main responsibilities include uncovering key business drivers and identifying opportunities in sales and account management which span around eCommerce. We aim to become the first choice for customers, suppliers, and employees, improving customer satisfaction, and empowering our people.
The most memorable part of my journey so far is when I was given the opportunity to take up the role of leading Singapore sales team. Being sales and operations-driven for most of my career, the opportunity gives me the chance to tap alternative skill-sets and self-evolution which are unfamiliar at times. In a sense, the environment and responsibility broaden my understanding of and experience in people management and communication (both internally or externally).
How would you describe your leadership style? How has it changed over the years and what experiences helped you shape it?
My leadership has always been affiliative or what others would call as a people-first approach.
I believe in crafting and aligning the team to perform holistically and harmoniously to foster a culture whereby skill-sets, talents, and experiences are connected throughout the team.
What do you think organisations can do to empower more women leaders like yourself?
There are numerous actions that organisations can do to further empower women. In RS, we encourage open conversations about building an inclusive and diverse team. We want our team to know that they can bring their true and best self to work everyday. A few approaches that can really make a difference are advocating for gender equality and recognising and celebrating people.
Gender equality has been a prominent topic both in and outside of the business world the past two to three years, and for good reasons!
Equal access to career opportunities is an extremely important matter. This means businesses need to consider people equally for open roles, no matter the industry or role at hand.
At RS Components, we are committed to providing the same great opportunities for current and future RS team members.
Recognising people is another key component. Celebrating the strengths and accomplishments of people in the company will not only enhance their self-confidence but also inspire more employees to follow their paths. Providing women leaders with speaking opportunities is also a great way of showcasing the company’s trust in their capabilities and expertise.
I am also passionate about mentorship, I’ve experienced the impact of having a leader who contributed to my growth as an individual and in a team, and now I do the same with my team members. This gives them a confident boost, which allows them to showcase their talents freely, and challenges them to grow.
D&I is not only about race, religion or sexuality. How should leaders ensure there is also diversity of thought in their organisations?
We are on a journey to build a diverse and inclusive organisation where our people feel they can give their best and be their true selves. Our different backgrounds and experiences shape how we see the world, interact with peers, and guide the way we think.
As leaders, our role is to foster a culture of openness and trust in the team and make employees feel that their ideas and contributions matter and that we are a stronger organisation because of them.
What are you doing in your role as GM to encourage people to challenge, question and be invested in cultivating an inclusive workplace?
It’s essential for me to be as accessible as I can and welcome new ideas and suggestions. Building a culture of inclusion and diversity isn’t a one-person job. Our vision is to encourage everyone in the workplace to take part in shaping the environment they want to work in. If you want people to be invested in something, they need to relate to the topic and/or share common values and interests. By including everyone in our initiatives, we make sure that the feeling of community grows in the team. It’s also essential to showcase our great initiatives from our team members.
As shared before, we promote year-round having open dialogue and conversations on how we can create an inclusive work culture. We also have global initiatives, where local employees have a role in driving too. For example, we created a video showcasing our collaborators from around the globe speaking in their native language and telling the story of how we are building a culture where it’s safe for everyone to bring their true self to work everyday. We wanted this video to be about our people, made by our people.
How closely do you work with your CHRO and on what issues?
We work closely with our Head of People in Asia Pacific, to make RS a first-choice employer too.
Our people make it possible to engage and help customers, and we can only deliver good customer experience when employees feel well and motivated.
During the height of the pandemic, we worked quickly with our people team to ensure the safety of employees, by shifting to a flexible work from home arrangement for office-based workers, and introducing enhanced safety measures in our distribution centres.
Adapting quickly was necessary to ensure business continuity for our customers too. Looking after the physical and mental wellbeing of teams continues to be a priority as we return to regular operations. In addition to the health measures in place, the people team also arranged virtual wellbeing seminars and talks with medical experts.
Acquiring and nurturing talent is also important. Potential employees want to belong to a high-performing and inclusive organisation. I work with the people team on recruiting professionals who are passionate about innovation and collaboration with customers. We also support career development throughout an employee’s journey in RS. In partnership with the people team, we identify growth opportunities for the team, be it through new tasks and responsibilities or a new role within RS.
Describe your ideal CHRO
The ideal CHRO promotes an environment which fosters employee-consciousness and respect. She/he must be understanding, approachable, and someone that other employees are comfortable working with and speaking with openly.
As much as it is about the attitude, it’s also about the willingness to learn more about your people’s daily challenges and figure out how you can support them in a fair and equitable way.
Having a strong understanding of the business is also important, so that we can ensure that as a leadership team in Asia Pacific, we focus on the right things when it comes to delivering business needs and taking care of our people. Coming from the business side of the organisation, I also appreciate and find value in being challenged by our people team to ensure that our strategies and sales activities are well aligned and anchored on our people strategy.
If not this career, what alternative career path would you have chosen?
I love my current career as it took me step-by-step to tread the path I am having now. But if given the chance, I would like to contribute to society and help the needy or sickly by being a social worker or nurse. Nonetheless, my current career has been my forte and passion and it will be for many years to come.
Photo / provided