Spurring discussions for women leaders of tomorrow

The Women in Association: Leaders of Tomorrow event gathered some of the most brilliant female leaders in the Associations industry to reimagine the future of effective leadership. Read on to find out other enlightening insights gleaned from the hybrid workshop held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.



One of the key “self-development” hurdles that women faced while building their career is the lack of a women’s network. 7 in 10 women cited treatment experienced by women, such as discrimination based on age or gender, as one of the main challenges faced at the workplace.

These are some of the key findings from BEAM’s recent survey on the future of women in leadership in Asia Pacific (APAC), which inspired the recent Women in Association: Leaders of Tomorrow hybrid event, held at the Marina Bay Sands’ Hybrid Broadcast Studio 1 on 24 June 2021.

Jointly organised by BEAM, PCMA Asia Pacific and Marina Bay Sands, women across Asia Pacific overcame distance and travel restrictions to convene and discuss how they can elevate and empower others in their midst to success. The hybrid event saw some 70 physical and virtual attendees from Australia, New Zealand, India and China.

The survey, which was conducted among 87 female professionals across Asia Pacific (80 per cent Asia-based and 20 per cent Australia & New Zealand) also revealed that:

  • Other hurdles faced by women at the workplace includes opportunities for women (27.6 per cent) and organisational and team structures (17.2 per cent).
  • 4 in 10 (42.5 per cent) respondents overwhelmingly indicated balancing career, family and social expectations as the top work-life balance hurdle for women to overcome.
  • More than 1 in 2 (59 per cent) respondents believe that leaders of a post-Covid future should embody empathy, compassion and authenticity.

In her welcome address, Ailynn Seah, Vice President of Sales, MIC and Association at Marina Bay Sands highlighted: “As we navigate the highly complex and challenging world of international relations, there is a need to provide equal access to opportunities and maximise the potential of all talent, men and women. As female leaders, we bring with us a unique set of leadership strengths and at the same time, there are also challenges that we need to overcome.”



Virtual panelists including Dianne Smith (Chief Executive Officer, Industry Capability Network), Laura Deal Lacey (Executive Director, Milken Institute Asia Centre) and Nicki Kenyon (Director, Powereo Enterprise Nine Entertainment Network), broached engaging topics such as succession planning, inculcating a zero-tolerance policy of harassment and addressing the gender pay gap issue at the workplace.

Deal Lacey added: “All we want is the next generation not to have to deal with these things… If we're going to create a safe environment for (our daughters) then I think it starts with the leadership of every organisation because (they) set the tone, and (they) actually set the benchmark of what behaviour should be.”



In a second panel discussion with Kim Underhill (Change Management Consultant, Ultimate Balance Consultancy), Shen Lee (Chief Marketing Officer, CRUST Group) and Vijaya Rao (Organising Committee Chair, World One Health Congress 2022), the female leaders shared insights on how industry peers can overcome imposter syndrome, the importance of mentorship and celebrating failures.

As Shen Lee noted, “We need to show people that (as a leader), you will fail too and you might fall short in certain areas. That embracing failure and allowing people to have the mindset of ‘I might fail’ is okay. That makes everyone more comfortable and empowered in the workplace.”

Into the second hour of the event, both the on-site and virtual participants broke out into their respective small group discussions. The groups chose and deliberated on one of the three scenarios provided. The three scenarios touched on creating opportunities for themselves, securing mentorships, and introducing flexible work arrangements during their careers.

Seah also shared her experience and encouraged the participants to support one another on their journeys. She said: “Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of knowing and working with many outstanding female leaders. We never felt alone because we were there to support one another. I hope that we will help future generations of future female leaders to create more networking opportunities, allowing them to build a strong support network and making greater impact.”