International Women's Day 2014

Great conversations, good ideas and candid sharing

We celebrated PwC’s first ever Global Diversity Week from 31 March to 4 April 2014. It brought together external and internal speakers with strong point of views and our people from across the firm. What a great conversation it was! It wasn’t just about gender; we talked about issues from an intergenerational, work experience and cultural diversity perspective which made it a very rich dialogue.

If you missed the session, here are some sound bites from each session. We’ve also tweeted throughout each session. You can still contribute to the conversation using the hashtag #pwcdiversity. Your thoughts or comments might shape the next diversity week – we’re always looking for fresh and relevant ideas.

Power Women Get Social

Three successful Malaysian business women took part in an interesting dialogue, sharing how they use social media to get ahead, network and succeed.

Our panellists were business leaders in various fields:

  • Low Ngai Yuen, Head of KakiSeni
  • Cheryl Goh, Regional Marketing Head of MyTeksi
  • Salika Suksuwan, Head of Industry Partnerships at TalentCorp

One of the key highlights of PwC’s Global Diversity Week, the event attracted a good mix of male and female attendees, including a number of male partners and directors. We also had the pleasure of welcoming our friends from Shell Malaysia and Pfizer Malaysia to the event.

Our Managing Partner, Sridharan Nair, who is active on Twitter and a champion of gender diversity in the workplace, launched the event, highlighting the 3As of engaged leaders (accessible, authentic, aware). He emphasised that these were qualities of the leader of the future, and guiding principles for leaders intent to use social media as a tool for personal branding.

It was a very stimulating conversation between the three panellists, with their different personalities and professional backgrounds – Salika (the consummate corporate Tweeter), Cheryl (the innovative start-up marketer) and Ngai Yuen (the gregarious and opinionated influencer).

Head of KakiSeni Low Ngai Yuen illustrating a point during the dialogue.

The dialogue was peppered with plenty of anecdotes with a good number of quips thrown in to illustrate social media’s ubiquity in our everyday lives. Unsurprisingly, the social media persona of the three ladies was a true reflection of their own personalities.

There were many interesting insights and aha-moments on social media and its role in helping women build their profile. Here are some of the key highlights tweeted by the attendees.

Tweets by attendees:

On managing risks

@ngaiyuen: Don’t let risks get the better of you on social media. Turn it into an opportunity

Making social media work for you

@cherylgoh: I’m a digital native so I’m fearless. I have been offered countless jobs thro it.
Just don’t be stupid with it.

@salikasuksuwan: I use it to advocate the good work done which I wouldn’t otherwise
broadcast – the tiara syndrome

@salikasuksuwan: I may not hv a lot of followers but I get the right folks to retweet me

Having a say on social media

@ngaiyuen: It shouldn’t be abt gender & culture. How many more years do you need to wait before jumping into the pool

@ngaiyuen: Bseen, bpart of the conversation, say something that matters, put ure view

On the business benefits of social media

@cherylgoh: You can cut out the press, PR and others from interfering in your relationship
with the customer

@salikasuksuwan: Vouches for Twitter for fast results. Connecting with ministers & ext stakeholders so much faster via DM

Needless to say, many of the attendees, men and women alike, went home empowered to start getting social. The women especially felt inspired to have a point of view on social media, and to start using it strategically to enhance their visibility in the marketplace.

An encouraging turnout by the men: PwC Malaysia Managing Partner Sridharan Nair (Sri) shares a light moment with our male attendees

The panellists with PwC Malaysia Diversity Leader Chin Suit Fang (left), Sri and some of the organising committee members from PwC

  • Search for more tweets using the hashtag #pwcdiversity
  • Get more insights on the business benefits of social media. Read PwC’s inaugural social media report ‘Getting social: Social media in business’.
  • Learn more about social media from the CEO perspective: An article by PwC Malaysia managing partner Sridharan Nair
  • Find out why social media deserves a spot on the boardroom agenda: An article by PwC Malaysia consulting leader Sundara Raj
  • Hear it from the Gen Y digital natives: PwC Malaysia management consultant Nabiya Anthony and PR professional Sarah Lee answer our followers’ questions in Twitter style (140 characters!)

Can women have it all?

Assurance Partner Subathra Ganesan and Advisory Associate Lydia Kwan as moderator

Subathra started by saying that she’s a mom first and a Partner second. She has 3 children and 2 dogs and a husband (almost as an afterthought!)

Although PwC didn’t have any flexible work arrangement policies15 years ago, she practiced flexibility from the start.

She shared how she was transparent with the client when taking on a tough project. She made it clear that she needed to be home at 7pm to 10pm every day and that she’ll be working after the children are asleep. She still practices this, although she sometimes makes it back by 7.30pm as her children are older now.

She also works from home when the situation calls for it and encourages her team to do so, especially when they need to attend to a sick child.

“You don’t have to be in the office to deliver your work”
She attributes her success to the support given by the firm, her personal drive as well as the support given by those nearest and dearest to her (what she terms as, her ecosystem of support.)

“You’ve got to know what you want…and organise it around your goals”
Work-life balance is personal, and it’s often misunderstood. It’s not a 9 to 5 job. It’s about recognising what you want from work and life. If you like your job, it won’t seem like a ‘sacrifice.’

“No one holds a gun to your head, you’ve got to want to do this”
She also admits that some challenges come with the territory and if you want to succeed in your career, you’ll do what it takes. Also, know your limitations.

Dealing with mummy guilt (dealing with imperfection) is Subathra's motto. You don’t have to be there to witness the first for every milestone in your children’s lives. She’s OK with witnessing the third step or word.

Our careers at PwC, what's so different?

Kim Kay-Li, Advisory Executive Director, Allan Toh, Assurance Executive Director and Ashwin Retnakumar, Advisory Associate as moderator

Both Kay-Li and Allan have similar career paths. They started in PwC very early on in their careers and have spent 10 and 13 years in PwC respectively.

They both agree that they have seen the firm grow into a people-centric organisation. It’s now more fun, with lots more teamwork and support.

Kay-Li felt very privileged when she first joined as she was the only woman in the team. Over the years, the number of women in the team has steadily risen. In other words, there’s no glass ceiling at PwC, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

She added that it’s not really about how you get there or how fast you reach the finish line. Recognise your priorities and work-life balance will come.

She’s also very focused in planning her career – “You can have it all as long as you manage your expectations and goals.” Hers was to get married only after making Executive Director and have children right after.

Allan had the benefit of a secondment in the UK.

He debunked the myth about people having more work-life balance in the UK – people often start working while on the train to work and eat at their desk during lunch. They easily clock in 12 hours daily. For networking or spending time with the team, they usually head for happy hours at a pub for 30 minutes and then head home.

He also shared about working hard in the firm - think about what's more important to you and how much you're willing to sacrifice…a common message echoed by all our speakers.

The reality of a House husband

Dr. Hendry Ng’s wife started her own law practice after years of working in the corporate sector.

Dr. Hendry decided to go back to school and minded their two boys at home. It wasn't an easy decision to make but the right one for their family. He knew that between his wife and him, one of them had to stay home with their sons, otherwise, they might have ‘lost them’.

Hendry admitted that he had to put his ego aside to make this arrangement work and before he knew it, 8 years had flown by.

A house husband is still very rare in our society. When asked whether they have been pressured to conform to societal norms, Hendry explained that they have not as they are very private. Also, in their circle of friends, they knew fathers in similar, work-from-home situations.

He also foresees that couples may want less or no kids (his two sons included) and we may see husband and wife meeting each other only during the weekends due to work commitments or jobs that require them to travel.

Global PwC Intranet Jams

Four Global leaders (Nora Wu - Global Board member, Agnès Hussherr - Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader, Robert Swaak - Global Clients & Markets Leader and Dennis Nally,- Chairman, PwC International) dedicated an hour to join the conversation on diversity through our global intranet organised by the Global Diversity team.

They addressed the importance of diversity in managing client relationships and its impact to our network and global strategy.

To sweeten the deal, the global team offered iPads and an enticing grand prize - dinner with Dennis Nally and Agnès Hussherr!

Our very own marketing & communications lead Stephanie Caunter took the Grand prize for the East Cluster! She will join two other winners from the West and Central Clusters for the dinner. We’ll get the lowdown from her after the dinner!.