In this week’s Meet & Greet interview, myGwork member and LGBTQ+ ally May Yang, Synechron’s Global Head of Operations, explains how initiatives like ‘Proud To Be’ and ‘Same Difference’ are helping the company to promote inclusion worldwide, as well as unlock ‘innovative’ thinking to fuel growth. She also shares her career journey, and provides a glimpse into both her work and social life.
Hi May, can you tell us a bit about your career journey to date?
My journey at Synechron began 10 years ago in our Singapore office. Starting off in a commercial role, my remit quickly expanded, and I became the point of contact for everything happening in the APAC region: client projects, events, administrative work, day-to-day operations, and employee engagement. As I established my role, I got the opportunity to take on the Chief of Staff position. Six months into my new role, I started applying for an Executive MBA and got accepted into the joint program by Columbia Business School and London Business School and, within the same year, was promoted to the Global Head of Operations at Synechron.
What's the most challenging aspect of managing people right now?
The most challenging aspect is to inculcate and promote organisational and team culture, especially when we have new team members who have joined during the pandemic. They have not seen our offices, met the team or taken part in any team social events. It takes time to assimilate new team members and to inculcate working principals of the team.
What attributes do you look for in new recruits and why?
There are three main things that I look for when recruiting someone new. First is a willingness to learn, second is empathy and third is integrity. As technology is ever changing, recruits who have the willingness to learn will be able to upskill themselves easily and would be more open to new challenges. As an organisation, this will help us to build a more sustainable talent base and provide career growth for our new recruits. Secondly, empathy is also key attribute which I look for. Having empathy helps us to take in the perspective of others and team members feel more engaged when they experience empathy from their leaders. Lastly, the most important attribute is integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. I want to be able to trust our new recruits, and know that they would always do what is right for the team and for our organisation.
How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace for you personally?
It is of key importance to not only me personally but to the organisation as a whole as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is an organisational metric which is being tracked. At Synechron, one of our key differentiators are our FinLabs and Accelerators. We truly believe that only by having a diverse team (not just race, gender, background etc, but also cognitive diversity) can we drive nonlinear novel thinking to unlock innovation which will fuel our growth.
Something I am incredibly proud of rolling out during my time in this role is introducing our global DEI initiatives, under the banner ‘Same Difference.’ The programme brings together working groups of employees from every Synechron office to engage with one another and share different perspectives. This collaborative group aspires to actively promote and develop employee-recommended policies that will help foster an inclusive culture. Feedback also allows Synechron to heighten employee support initiatives. It incorporates an array of initiatives, each equally as important as the other, championing the cause of female and LGBTQ+ empowerment, gender diversity, inclusivity and much more.
What's your favorite inclusion campaign to date and why?
During Pride month, Synechron launched a ‘Proud To Be’ campaign. For this campaign, we encouraged all employees to talk about what they are ‘proud to be’. Some employees are proud to be working mothers; some are proud to be in an organisation that allows them to be themselves and others are proud of their skill sets. This has generated conversations around how we see ourselves and how others see us; and it has helped us to build a more inclusive culture.
How do you encourage staff to have a worklife balance, especially with the increase in remote/hybrid working?
As leaders, we should respect the personal time of our team members. For example, not emailing them over the weekend, or end meetings early if the agenda of the meeting is met. I like to provide flexibility to employees as we all have different family commitments. We cannot asume that we know what our colleagues are juggling with.
What's the biggest highlight of your career to date and why?
The biggest highlight of my career so far was juggling my new role as Global Head of Operations while studying for my part time Executive MBA with Columbia Business School and London Business School. It has taught me how to be a better leader, how to manage my time, and more importantly, the importance of having diverse talent and thoughts to solve a business case.
What was the last book you read? Any interesting take-aways and would you recommend it to fellow leaders?
The most recent book I read was, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. An interesting take away and my biggest learning was how to structure your time and create unbroken blocks for individual think time. I would recommend this book to everyone.
What was your last holiday destination and where do you plan to visit next?
My last holiday destination was Taiwan and for my next trip, I am planning to go glamping in Cambodia.
What do you to unwind at the end of a hard day?
A glass of red wine and a good book.
To learn more about May, click here.