What I Learned From My Career Mentors (Part 3)

by Elaine Cercado

On TRANSFORMING self, people and business

The only lady among my mentors was Anne, my former boss who was a vice president, and was leading a solid and growing MNC in the Asia-Pacific, which was competing in an industry that was going through a major technology (i.e. analog to digital) transformation.

Before she became my boss, she agreed to be my mentor. I was then working for another business unit, which was going through the same technology substitution, with responsibility for the ASEAN business profit and loss.

Leadership development – it’s all about NETWORKING

What struck me most was Anne’s strong belief with networking, be it internal and external. She suggested that I network with other ASEAN managers from other business units. She suggested for me to volunteer in projects, for example, to represent Digital business development projects in Greater Asia Region.  She also suggested that I network externally, and that I read interesting industry and market bits that I can share with the team (“it’s important not be too inward focused”). In short,  do and gain something that would increase my leadership competencies, and make me more marketable within the company and outside. All these would also help me radiate a leader’s confidence.

People management – DEVELOPING PEOPLE is key

Anne encouraged me to invest on my ‘high potentials’. In fact she encouraged me to approve a request for a post-grad course from one of my key managers, and to ask the manager to share the learnings with the team on a regular basis. She was also a big believer of on-the-job training, and because she knew my balancing issue (as I had a young son then), she suggested to use my key managers/direct reports to do the regular ASEAN market visits, and for me to go for the “big impact” visits. This was indeed a great way to develop people – as they gained first hand/field knowledge, got exposed to the region & its diverse cultures and environments, and got motivated in the process!

Business transformation – being STRATEGIC and PRO-ACTIVE

One of the things Anne asked me to do was to make a job description of what I wanted to do in 3 to 5 years. Part of that process was envisioning the market and business we would be in. That helped me draft a clear-cut “digital strategy plan” per country. She emphasized for me to focus on the areas for improvement and growth, and to look at the big picture and the long term. Two examples were to proactively develop & implement the path forward for the new digital product we launched in a key country, and to engage an industry & independent authority in discussion or partnership.

A couple of years after my mentoring sessions with Anne, she recruited me to join her business unit, which continued to face the challenges of industry and technology transformation.  I said yes, and had a great time applying all over again the things I learned from Anne herself!

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