#IWD: My advice to a young girl looking to break into the industry….

We asked 7 leading female leaders who are at the top of their game give their advice

(marketingmagazine.com.my)– By: Malati Siniah


Happy International Women’s Day or IWD!

Getting ahead in the advertising, media, marketing and communications industry is no easy feat especially with its reputation of being typically dominated by males.

Glass ceiling or no, getting ahead of your game is not impossible. Throughout the years we have seen so many bold, bright and talented women who are razor focused on achieving their career goals.

So how do they do it? I spoke to 7 female professionals in the industry and asked them to share their advice to a young female fresh graduate who wants to break into the industry.

Here is what they said:

Manminder Kaur Dhillon, Founder Supernewsroom& PR agency Intelectasia


“Believe in yourself, sounds very cliche, but no matter what, whether you are planning to join the PR industry or venture into anything else having self-belief is important. Once you have that, you can overcome any obstacle and challenge, you can even push yourself to try something new.

Be flexible, be fluid and follow your instincts. There is no such thing as failure, only lessons. I was a teacher and today I’m a PR practitioner and a technopreneur (Supernewsroom is Asia’s first digital PR platform). So believe in the impossible and go for it!”

How do you stay inspired?

A book that has really inspired me and guided me each step of the way when I started my entrepreneurial journey was and still is Think and Grow Rich (original version) by Napoleon Hill. Also, my favourite quote is from Invictus- ‘I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul’ it is something that has guided me always.

Freda Liu, Producer/Presenter, BFM


“My journey into broadcasting has been totally accidental so my path has been rather unconventional. All I can say is to not to be so quick to get into the “limelight.”

Take time to learn other things and expand your horizons so when you do get the opportunity, you can come in on merit and content. If you get an opportunity to join the industry, take whatever comes your way so you can learn the ropes and everything that goes into the industry. That time will come.

The one who is most prepared and adaptable will be noticed. I have done so many things in life during, before and even now that is not related to the industry. Nothing beats life experiences.”

How do you stay inspired?

I read a lot. The Bible helps keep me calm and gives me perspective all the time. I am currently reading Exponential Living by Sheri Riley and it’s inspiring. One book that got my mojo going was Playing Big by Tara Mohr. My personal quote in life is “Be better, not bitter.”

Jean Loh, Corporate Communications Director, L’Oréal Malaysia


“My career in Corporate Communications has been a series of fortunate events, and I credit it to seizing the opportunities when it was presented. When you first start your career, don’t be afraid of hard work or do more than your job scope, and putting in the time to learn as much as you can.

Take initiative, bosses usually pay attention to people who do. Always find a sponsor or a mentor who will support and guide you.

Someone once told me, “A smart woman learns from other people’s mistakes”



How do you stay inspired?

I take inspiration from the life of Stephen Hawkins, life handed him lemons and he made much more than just lemonade. Despite being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and grim circumstances, he never gave up. He used his time to not only find love, not once but twice and made the most important scientific discoveries. This is a man who won’t let adversities get in the way of his dreams.

Margaret Au-Yong, President of the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA)


“Life is now super competitive, this includes the Advertising, Media and Marketing Industry.

The ability to be a part of a team, to be a leader and able to mix with different cultures will make a difference between having a good career and a superstar career.

So go out there and start your career by being focussed, take calculated risks, enjoy the challenges and be adaptable by acquiring diversify skill sets.You will be a winner.”


How do you stay inspired?

Motivation does not necessarily have to come from motivational books as I find that they tend to be repetitive. I feel that it’s more important to stay abreast on what’s going on daily.

I read everything, from The Star’s Leaderomics, Time Magazine, Fortune, Stephen Covey, and Martin Roll (On Asian Strategy). I also keep up to date on the daily international news by watching ANN, BBC, Al Jazeera for News.

People who have this sort of diverse experience will be more confident, eloquent, opinionated, and be able to think and express th
emselves better. They will also be more innovative and digitally savvy especially in today’s evolving Industry. At the end of the day, I feel that we are all born equal.”

Melati Abdul Hai, Senior Director – Marketing, Communications & Insights McDonald’s Malaysia


“I love the theme of Women’s Day this year – Be Bold for Change.

Only when you can embrace change – and women do it gracefully, graciously and confidently – can you truly unleash your inner potential. In every action that you take, be BOLD and take people with you. Always see the good in people as no one has ever succeeded alone”

Fiona Liao, Chief Brand Officer- Prudential Assurance Malaysia


“I had the privilege to “taste” different vocations in my first job as a management trainee with an international hotel chain, from handling dirty laundry in housekeeping to being part of the crew that opened their new Japanese restaurant. This experience early in my career helped me to identify what I liked…. marketing and brand communications.

The key is to be open to different opportunities so that you are able to match what you like with what you are good at. And usually, what you are good at, is what you are passionate about.This is important because you want to wake up excited in the morning.For me, it is the excitement of being able to come up with creative ideas to communicate and engage with my target audience, which means having light bulbs constantly going off in my head.”

How do you stay inspired?

The quote that guides my leadership style at work by Eleanor Roosevelt where she says “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.”

Niniek Sugiarti, Head of Social & Outreach, Lion & Lion Digital Agency


“Be open to learning new skills and be prepared to realise that not everything you learnt in school is relevant or enough to make you shine. Be ready to hustle, absorb everything around you, and learn quickly.

From my experience, I started being more observant of all the advertisements and digital marketing techniques that came my way and tried to rationale their purpose. I also then weighed in on whether or not, looking from a consumer’s point of view, I would buy into the advertisement.”

How do you stay inspired?

I usually turn back to this quote “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” -Howard Luck Gossage.

I hope that you were as inspired by them as I was speaking to these powerful women.

What would my career advice be?

‘Never box yourself up and look at the positive in every opportunity.’

When I first started my career many moons ago I was upset to be made to write for online as seeing your name in print was the ultimate pride of a writer and online news was an afterthought. Today I’m so blessed to have exposure in both platforms.

Happy International Women’s Day may you strive further and come out stronger!


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