Vanessa Teo, Great American Insurance Company Singapore branch
Chief Financial & Operating Officer
With ongoing news of inequality, unequal pay and a lack of women in the senior level, female professionals clearly still have challenges to face.
I have been a key in running a new start up insurance company for six years now and it certainly has not been easy. Seven days a week, 18 hours a day - it's tough, but being a woman it did not deter me to excel and enjoy what it takes.
There have been occasions when I have suddenly become uncomfortably aware of my gender. A head hunter once asked questions that hinted at whether I intended a career switch - I supposed my professionalism would have determined his decision to offer me something more interesting.
Then there is the look of surprise when you tell some men, especially in the general insurance industry you are the Chief Financial and Operating officer of a multi-national organization, you will get some kind of patronizing remarks and not being treated as an equal in meetings.
Despite the odd experience, I do not believe being a woman has held me back or altered my chance of success. Being a successful professional really comes down to personality and getting things done decisively. I have always been independent, confident and determined to succeed. I never fail to impress on others of my entrepreneurs spirit and readiness to make changes for the good outcome.
Self belief is in my blood and if you think you can, you can. Confidence is essential if you want to win clients, staff and build a portfolio of loyal and profitable business. You need to have the courage to be as ambitious as men.
My firm approach as a female professional is always to be passionate about and enjoy what I do because I can create the difference and obtain buy-in to make things happen. My operandi modus is to have a strong sense of purpose and we must believe that we are destined to handle great things.
One thing I learned is not to rest on your laurels when you run your business. The creative landscape is always changing, so I will constantly need to keep up and innovate. Continue to strive to boost the morale of my staff and their skill sets in order to navigate in the challenging market and move the business/company forward as a team.