Michele Wee, Head of Financial Markets for Singapore, Australia and Brunei
I’ve recently taken on additional responsibilities which I’m handling by adopting the ‘new style’ of leadership. By this I mean I don’t feel I need to know everything, but I feel secure enough to surround myself with committed individuals who are experts in that area. This makes the team even stronger; everyone is given the opportunity to excel in what they do best, and get recognised and rewarded for their individual contribution. I have my core expertise, but I must continue to build on this. Learning never stops. I’m not afraid to ask questions, to acknowledge that I don’t know it all.
In banking, there are multiple moving parts and it’s common to wear multiple hats concurrently. It means leaders must acknowledge it’s impossible to stay on top of every granular detail. I’m only human; I need to spend time with my family, eat and sleep!
“Don’t be afraid, and don’t hold back. Be the change, make a difference.”
I joined the bank in 2011 after reaching a point in my career when I wanted to do more for my home country. When the opportunity came, there was no better fit than Standard Chartered, a global bank with Singapore being a core market and home to its global businesses as well as innovation, technology and operations. Being given the opportunity to lead and develop FM’s e-commerce business, in the capacity of a bigger and global role, and in my home country nonetheless – considering I also just gave birth to my second child at that time – it was a big ‘YES’.
The bank has so much to offer. We have a diverse unique footprint around the world with an established onshore retail market presence, and real clients. I say ‘real clients’ because we understand them, and have maintained relationships across generations, working with each other like partners than counter-parties. Also, to me, the Bank is a Human bank. Just look at all the initiatives we have in sustainability, employee welfare and well-being, and Diversity and Inclusion. We truly care for our people.
Of course, we care about our business and our clients as well. It’s about delivering a good Return on Equity for our shareholders.
As a leader, I hope to create an environment where people are eager to come to work; people who want to do their best, people who want to be meaningful to their clients. To do that, I first need to create a sense of community where they feel belonged, letting them know that they are supported in every aspect. This requires focus, consistency and empathy. To help with this I’ve started a support group called ‘FM Singapore Women’. It’s still in its early stages, but my vision is for this to be a community outside of the working environment where our FM female colleagues should feel safe to turn to for support, be it work or personal issues. I hope to be able to do much more for women in our workforce as I understand and empathise with what women go through to strike a meaningful balance between family and work.
If someone was to ask me for career advice, I would say leave your insecurities at the door. In fact, be proud that everyone brings a different skill set and mindset with them. Also, have the patience to learn and fully appreciate the job. Don’t be afraid, and don’t hold back. Be the change, make a difference.