Our Women in Tech: Transforming Asia 

6 March 2020 | Carolynn Ang, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific 

Every year on March 8, the world turns its attention to celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD), an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary achievements and acts of courage by women. 

This global day is an important platform for highlighting gender issues and inequalities and focusing on women’s rights.
 

The theme for this year’s IWD is ‘I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights’ (#EachForEqual), calling for a gender equal world in all environments, including across boardrooms, governments, workplaces, and sports. When it comes to technology, women continue to be underrepresented and are not entering IT jobs at the same rate as men. A recent statistic found that in Singapore, women make up only 30% of the tech-related fields; it is these downward trends that make it increasingly important to support the growth and education of women in technology and keep the conversation around equal opportunity ongoing.

To celebrate IWD 2020, we spoke to five of our own CenturyLink women in tech in Asia Pacific (APAC) to learn more about their paths to a career in technology and their views on the challenges and rewards of working in the industry today.

Leona Loh
Manager, Regional Talent Acquisition, Asia Pacific


With over 15 years in IT and Telecoms, Leona’s career has spanned several roles in sales leading to her present role in talent acquisition across Asia Pacific, following years of understanding on what it takes to win customers and develop successful strategies. Leona is Singaporean and lives in the east coast of the island with her husband. Her love for travel took her to Cuba last Christmas, where she enjoyed the simplicity of its old towns and the sight of its many colorful vintage cars. 
Tell us about your career background 
I graduated with a Bachelor of Business in Business Administration from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University and started my career as a technical recruiter with a global IT firm to support their application outsourcing projects. After a few years, I moved to sales within the same division. Five years ago, I made a career switch back to talent acquisition.
What are the main responsibilities in your role at CenturyLink?
Working closely with the business leaders and HR Business Partners to identify the needs of CenturyLink in Asia Pacific, one of my key roles is to create and implement talent acquisition strategies to improve recruitment and business performance through growing talent pipelines across the business. I oversee the end to end recruitment process and seek for talents to join CenturyLink.  
Name an event in your life or career that you are most proud of

Back in 2014 when I was still working in sales, I won a large-scale SAP outsourcing project – the first deal of that nature for the company! This was a deal I had pursued and followed up on for three years, putting in lots of strategic thought into the competitive advantages we had over the customer’s long-term partner to enable better business outcomes.  The client appreciated my efforts so much that she called me a “super account manager”.  That makes me feel really proud even today!

More recently in my current role, there was a moment when one of my hiring managers commended how I was able to influence and change her mindset about hiring millennials into her team. Her earlier emphasis was on years of working experience; now, she is more open to considering applicants with the right attitude and aptitude, despite less experience. This also makes me very proud as it has directly made a difference to our recruiting practice and contributed to adding more diversity to our talent pool. 

What advice did you receive early in your career that has influenced you?
Chase after accountability not money.
 
This advice taught me to take ownership in whatever I do; when you feel that you own a task, you will naturally go the extra mile to do it well and earn the respect of colleagues and superiors.  
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Each for Equal’.  What does this mean to you?
To me, it means providing fair and equal treatment to everyone – whether you are a woman or man. There is no need to provide special concessions or treatment just because we are woman, as it’s our skills and abilities to do a job well that should matter. 

Ruchi Gandhi
Senior Manager, Customer Success, Asia Pacific

Ruchi has always enjoyed being at the forefront of our customers as their trusted advisor. “This role is enriching as well as challenging at the same time given that you are directly responsible for their overall business experience,” she says. 
Tell us about your career background 
I started my career back in 2006 as an intern engineer with a global IT services firm. Lucky for me, I moved to a customer-facing role as an account manager and I truly found my niche – there’s no going back since! When I relocated to Singapore from India, I worked at a local SMB before joining CenturyLink and am thankful for the enriching journey that has got me here so far. 
What are the main responsibilities in your role at CenturyLink?
My main responsibilities include developing strong customer relationships and teams, ensuring customer satisfaction and identifying added-value services that would enhance the customer experience. May be obvious by now, but I truly enjoy my customer-facing role! 
Name an event in your life or career that you are most proud of
Professionally, it was being nominated to the CenturyLink President's Club for consistently achieving all sales targets. Personally, it was bungee jumping off a 50-foot cliff into the river, it was such an adrenaline rush! 
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women in the technology industry today?
Industry-wide, hands down it is representation of women. We have fewer women in technology overall and even less in tech leadership. But I think we are at the cusp of a change as gender parity is no longer a ghost, but an issue all businesses are actively addressing.
We are at the cusp of a change as gender parity is no longer a ghost, but an issue all businesses are actively addressing.
 
I do see this major change compared to when I first started my career in technology, so we are headed in the right direction for sure.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 
It is important to have conviction and believe in yourself first mentality, before expecting others to believe in you. I also feel it is really crucial to ensure your interests are aligned with your career aspirations so you can really enjoy what you do with all your heart. 
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Each for Equal’.  What does this mean to you?
We are moving to a point in time when people do not just desire an equal world but expect it. The rise of women is not about the fall of men, gender parity is not just a women's issue but an economic issue and can all play a big role in forging a better path forward. 

Yang Yueyi
Lead, Product Management (Hybrid Cloud & IT Solutions), Asia Pacific

 

From completing her undergraduate program in China to pursuing a Masters degree and career prospects in France, Yueyi’s journey as a woman in tech has been varied and exciting. She now lives in Singapore with her French husband and three-year-old son, is trilingual (English, Mandarin and French), and says she loves great stories – whether from movies or books. 
Tell us about your career background 
I received my Bachelor’s degree from Xi Dian University, one of the earliest computer science schools in China. I then decided to join an international student exchange program and finished my master’s degree in IMT Atlantique, a top ranked engineering school in France. During my study in France, I had opportunities to join big companies such as Airbus for internships, where I tested and planned adoption of new network design software for the conception of new aircrafts. My next move was to Orange S.A., France’s largest telecom operator where I was part of the business unit in charge of defining and launching mobile payment services in Africa. I loved this internship experience so much, it led me to apply and successfully selected for the graduate program at Orange where I started my career as presales coordinator for large and complex IT outsourcing – it was where I first had hands on exposure to complex customer needs for virtualization, data storage, security, data center, and applications. 
What are the main responsibilities in your role at CenturyLink?
My responsibilities include product lifecycle, sales enablement, presales support and partner alliance in my product domain.  
What advice did you receive early in your career that has influenced you?
When I first started my career, I had two female managers – both very dynamic, hardworking, passionate about their jobs, and strong-willed to get things done and drive change. They showed me that women can balance success at work and have a family, as long as they put in the effort. Later in my career, I learned through a male colleague that women are less likely than men to ask for job promotions or salary increments. This was a reality check for me; yes, it was true that there is hesitation because we often feel we are not capable or good enough to change to a more qualified job or take more responsibilities. The lesson from this is that now, I often remind myself to push the invisible glass ceiling higher.
I often remind myself to push the invisible glass ceiling higher.
 
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Each for Equal’.  What does this mean to you?
Being a woman in pursuit of career excellence is not easy. For many women who may be well-educated and highly experienced, their successes are often held back by prejudice from others and so-called “standards” imposed by some societies. By this I mean, that from a very young age, girls are taught to look pretty and play with dolls and follow a very defined path: get married, bear children, and devote their lives to looking after their husband and offspring. Because of these “standards”, women also tend to judge themselves and each other constantly working hard to please everyone. Equality to me would therefore mean the removal of these standards and stereotypes for women. 

Gloria Kwan
Senior Technician, Provisioning, Asia Pacific

 

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, Gloria is a CenturyLink legend, having had ties with the company for more than 13 years! She graduated from the University of Winnipeg and enjoys playing video games and a variety of sports – tennis, CrossFit and ice hockey. 
Name an event in your life or career that you are most proud of
In addition to a long career in technology, I am also a licensed tennis coach.  
What are the main responsibilities in your role at CenturyLink?
My main role is to order and provision local loop and routers for Asia Pacific. 
Based on your experience, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Women can do whatever men can do. 

Raji Raman 
Manager, Service Delivery, Asia Pacific


With a Bachelor’s degree and Masters in Computer Science as well as a Masters in Business Analytics, Raji’s career started in the US as a new graduate with Nortel Networks. Her career then led to a move across the world to Singapore. She is originally from India, speaks English and Tamil. One of her favorite enjoyment is hiking. 
What are the main responsibilities in your role at CenturyLink?
I am part of the Service Delivery Group and my main responsibilities include vendor management and escalations. In addition, I am responsible for my team who handles the establishment of SD-WAN TDE capabilities in the region.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women in the technology industry today?
The technology industry often requires long hours working in the office. This creates significant practical constraints for women in terms of work-life balance, but also in many countries, it could create safety issues. 
What can your country / industry do better to promote a better working environment for women? 
Greater opportunities to telecommute or work remotely would be welcomed. This flexibility would allow more skilled women to not only enter the workforce, but also improve talent retention. 
Why do you think diversity is important in the tech industry?
Diversity is important not just in technology, but in every industry.
 
It begets a broader range of ideas from the fact that people brought together from different backgrounds, skillsets and experiences will in turn lead to more creativity and therefore greater innovation. 

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