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Inspiring Female Leaders: Tiffany Tang

Tiffany Tang has worked across local, regional and global roles on commercial and innovation development. She has considerable experience in leading strategic brand development on 3 to 5 years brand planning, insights mining, complex portfolio strategy, portfolio investment strategy, regional launch reco and multi countries communications /activation development. In her current role, Tiffany leads the innovation pipeline globally working closely with the global R&D and technical team.

Tell me about your career progression into your current role.

I started my career in FMCG as a Sales Management Trainee in Colgate Palmolive, literally going into traditional trade stores doing sales. On trainee program, we would be rotated to different departments and I subsequently went into Marketing and Product Development roles. I joined RB very early on in my career as a Brand Manager and stayed with the company, moving up to Marketing Manager and eventually Marketing Director of the Malaysia-Singapore cluster looking after the health and hygiene portfolios, before progressing into my current global role. This is my 14th year with RB overall, as I did leave for about three years working for GSK and SC Johnson, but RB is where I have best cultural fit which is why I came back. RB people are very passionate, entrepreneurial and non-political. RB has biasness for action and a can-do attitude, which I enjoy very much. I am currently responsible for moving into new spaces of Maternal and Infant/Children Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements, as well as exploring new technology spaces as it is a huge opportunity and evolving at a rapid pace especially spur by the recent pandemic.

Can you pinpoint when you first noticed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion around you?

If you live in Asia, from a very young age, we embrace different cultures, different races, so I would say that diversity is something that is very common. At RB, we don't work in silos, we are instead encouraged to reach out to different teams across different countries. Regarding gender diversity, when I started at RB as a Brand Manager, I had two very strong female role models. One was my local GM and the other was a local female Finance Director, they were not just great role models for me, but throughout the organisation and they owned the diversity and inclusion agenda at senior level. They were not only highly disciplined, dedicated and committed, yet very approachable at the same time. They showed that you can excel professionally, as well as have a personal life and a family.

What one factor has helped you most through your career?

Change is challenging, and changes are becoming more rapid in recent times because of market dynamics and consumer dynamics, so I would say that the first thing is having resilience and perseverance as the key to keep moving. When you're pushed back by obstacles, you need to go back to your baseline, you must have resilience to recover. When you have a lot of challenges in front of you, you have to have the perseverance to keep pushing forward. That's not just in your professional life, but your personal life as well because both worlds will collide. We need to keep developing our resilience and perseverance muscles over time. It's not easy to manage these kinds of emotions, but often I refer to motivational talks or speak to other people and try to build that internal muscle. I always tell myself, "Calm seas never make skilled sailors." 

What are your thoughts on mentorship, both being a mentor and a mentee?

I don't have a formal mentor, but I have a lot of good role models that I look up to. They’ve advised me throughout my career, whether that’s me observing their behaviour or via a formal sit-down coffee session. With role modelling, it can be a direct manager, senior leadership team member that you look up to or even peers who have different skill sets which you can learn from. When I observe positive behaviours, I use that not just professionally, but personally as well. One very important piece of advice given to me was to be my authentic self, and that for me, is being passionate in my work. If you're passionate in your work and you are being given the opportunity to speak up and contribute, you feel that you have a sense of belonging. The best mentors are those who push you out of your comfort zone and people at RB are very good at that. As soon as you are getting complacent in your role, they challenge you out of your comfort zone, and help you believe that you can take on new challenges.

It sounds like you have instigated and approached your own mentors too?

Definitely. I wouldn't formalise them as mentors because in your professional life you meet multiple people with different skills, experience and expertise. I seek out people with technical expertise and ask them questions openly and honestly. Sometimes you observe positive leadership traits from the senior leadership team, or you might have a conversation with your boss or peers about leadership skills and find out the areas you can work on. Developing self-awareness is crucial because you're going to have some very honest conversations and you must be able to take constructive feedback. 

As a mentor, what advice do you give to your mentees?

I have managed big teams before and I never look at myself as a formal mentor, but they can always come to me for advice. Going back to my resilience and perseverance muscle idea again, what I do is give them strength. People often have self-doubt. Sometimes they will feel overwhelmed. They may face personal problems that impact their productivity professionally. I will empathise and give them the confidence to believe in themselves, that they can overcome challenges or their self-doubt. That is the kind of advice or relationship I have with them. 

What are the benefits of diverse teams and diverse organisations?

A diverse organisation with diverse teams means a very open culture. And when you have an open culture, you encourage creativity, which leads to an increase in productivity because people would generally feel happier coming to work. They feel that they have a sense of belonging and feel appreciated when their points of views are taken into consideration. When everybody feels connected and there is a strong sense of belonging, they feel that they are able to make an impact either to the company or even to the broader society. Now, it's very difficult for diverse teams like ours where we are all from different countries. Many of us have moved to be nearer to our families during lockdown and it can be hard to find that work/life balance especially with different time zones.

Do you have any advice on dealing with that in the current situation?

I would say that it's normal to feel overwhelmed because all of us do. It's important to recognise that it's going to be like this for a while and carry on. Sometimes work hours may be extended due to this complexity. So, it's important to try and find a balance.

Posted over 3 years ago
About the author:
Tristan Bullworthy

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