Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Elevenses with Sharon Sng (Interview)

ElevensesSharon Sng, Senior Vice President, Capitaland
Sharon spent 15 years in investment banking with Citibank, Lehman Brothers & BNP Paribas before joining CapitaLand in 2010 as Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance.  She is responsible for the group's access to public capital markets, M&A and strategic corporate initiatives/actions.
Married with a 2-year old son, she is an avid traveler, sports enthusiast (skiing, yoga, tennis, thinks toddler supervision should count too) and weekend cook/wine novice.

1. Describe your management style 

I strongly believe in a concise approach with minimal fuss, and maximum attention to the end goal. Regardless of whether it is a task oriented situation, or running a commercial team, the philosophy should remain the same. Always set the appropriate context for the team, provide people with the appreciation of the end goal and build commitment and buy-in from the team first. Thereafter it will be easier to formulate a strategy to execute, either together as a team, or if the team is more independent/experienced, they could propose an execution plan for discussion. 

2. What are your core values as a female leader? 

Core values should not differ based on gender. While women have the ability to be more sensitive, better at handling / striking a balance with difficult personalities, the basic values a professional brings to the job is definitely gender-neutral. 

3. Describe your ideal deputy 

A deputy should not be a clone of the leader. I would value someone who brings highly complementary skill sets with the right temperament to work with me, which means a good sense of humor and love for food are the pre-requisites! 

4. MBA or real life experience? 

Since I don’t have an MBA, I have no bias either way. This would very much depend on the individual and the opportunities or choices along the way. There is no right answer to this. I think going with the flow is best and trust your intuition, that is, if work is going well, no need to pursue an MBA unless a specific school or program is calling out to you urgently, you desperately want to tick the box, be it for an additional qualification, for the overseas experience, or for a career switch. 

5. Which business book have you found most worthy to read? 

Business books make up ~10% of the books I read within a year, and typically they are shaped by the industry I'm in or about to enter. In my early investment banking career I really enjoyed Lisa Endlich's the Culture of Success, which provided an excellent background to the Lehman Brothers & Goldman Sachs early partnership and Wall Street ethos. More recently, I read the First 90 Days and Sunday Emails from a CEO, because making a career switch to a corporate at a senior level meant a different type of transition, and the latter was written by the CEO - I needed to understand my new organization & CEO. Choose what you read wisely (be it fiction or non-fiction), and ask for recommendations from friends or seniors. 

6. Have you ever cried at work? 

No, never. Work is not personal, purely professional and thus, does not warrant tears. 

7. Which characteristic do you think is your Achilles’ heel at work? 

Demand for perfection & high standards. This may be perceived as being a taskmaster or being impatient on occasion, but it is a strong work ethic which is hard to shake. I try to soften it will a gentle touch these days :) 

8. What is the worst part of your job? 

Admin, admin, admin 

9. And the best part? 

Interacting with board members, senior management to influence strategic decisions 

10. What advice would you give your 25-year old self? 

Don’t be afraid to take risks, or the road less travelled 

11. How would you like to be remembered?

Strong, admirable professional lady who balances family and personal goals; Full of energy and life, personable and charming, a pleasure to interact with as a friend, colleague and professional.

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