I was fortunate to attend The Women’s Foundation  Aspiring Female Directors Breakfast Panel on Friday the 7th December, in Hong Kong. I shared a table with Kirsty Boazman, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (Austcham).


Our very capable MC was Angelina Kwan EMD, COO and GED, REORIENT Financial Markets Limited.  She had a very engaging presentation style and was just bubbling with personality.


I really enjoyed the rich conversation about the current state of play regarding women in the workplace. I learnt that women provide a diversity of thinking and a ‘different approach’. They promote more unity and less challenge and are generally more holistic. Unfortunately, it remains difficult to quantify the advantages of women on boards.


I enjoyed the discussion on what career experience is required to position yourself for consideration on a board.

  • If you have worked on a big project that had a significant outcome.
  • That you have worked collaboratively.
  • Regulatory and technology exposure.
  • That you have contributed to the goals of the company whilst keeping an eye on profitability.
  • Active involvement in NGO’s, school boards and community groups.
  • International experience.
  • Evidence of being capable of working outside your comfort zone and being able to deal with different cultures.
My take-home was that, as women, we must have a clear sense of who we are. We must aim higher, be a leader and communicate. 


By coincidence, the following article graced the front page of Gulf News today (Dec 10, 2012), ‘Women on state company boards made mandatory’. The article quoted Shaikh Mohammad, Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai as stating; ‘ The presence of women on these boards would give decisions and plans made by these bodies more balance. Women work in these bodies and represent important parts of the clients and customers of these establishments, and hence they must be represented in the decision-making.” He added that women have strongly proved their efficiency and competence in work positions.


In my opinion, it is fantastic that women will be represented on the board of directors of all government bodies and companies following the Cabinet resolution adopted yesterday in Abu Dhabi.


I topped off the day today with a quick scan through my favourite daily cheat sheet, SmartBrief on Leadership. It was satisfying to learn that a body of data now exists, from prestigious research organizations, documenting the positive impact women leaders have on their organizations. In their blogpost Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson explain ‘Why women should lead boldy’.


The Women’s Foundation is a non-profit organisation established in 2004 and dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong through ground-breaking research, impactful and innovative community programmes, and education, media engagement and advocacy. Their three key focus areas are challenging gender stereotypes, increasing the number of women in decision-making and leadership positions, and empowering women in poverty to achieve a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Click here for the latest copy of ‘An Introduction to the Women’s Foundation’.


In keeping with their goal to get more women on Hong Kong’s boards, The Women’s Foundation partneredwith the Hong Kong Securities Institute on a 5-part Development Programme to prepare senior executives for board .


The fifth and final session, a breakfast panel for aspiring female directors featuring some of Hong Kong’s leading search firms took place on Friday, December 7 from 8.00-9.30am at The American Club, Two Exchange Square, Central.


The session covered:

– Skills and expertise boards are looking for

– Working with search firms, industry associations and other networks to better position yourself for board roles


The distinguished line-up of speakers included:

May Koon, President, Global Sage. May Koon is President of the Pacific Region at Global Sage. May has been Asia’s No. 1 ranked search consultant for three consecutive years.


Caroline Raggett, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates. Caroline oversees assignments in specialist functional areas.


Elspeth Renshaw, Director, Asia Pacific Talent Management. Elspeth has been in Asia for 13 years, during which time she has driven initiatives to align talent acquisition and management strategy with teh wider business contect, particularly during times of regional expansion as well as transition and integration.


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