Reinventing the leader

18 August 2017

Asialink, in consultation with the Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC), and with support from the Australia ASEAN Council (AAC), has produced a video series highlighting the personal experiences of successful and innovative women from across the Asian region and Australia.

The video series addresses issues raised at the Asialink Women in Leadership Dialogue that took place in Singapore in 2015, and which brought together female leaders from across the region.

Woman sitting at a desk and talking
Malaysian environmental activist and working mother, Yasmin Rasyid, recounting her grandmother’s concern for green spaces and water resources in the Asialink Women in Leadership video series. Credit: Two Gongs Media.

One issue raised was the need for more awareness of the tensions that exist for women in the region when it comes to workplace demands and the traditional roles of women.

‘Arguments for elevating women into leadership have mostly focused on the economic imperative to supply more talent for the workforce, but new thinking is needed to examine the cultural sources of discrimination,’ says dialogue participant, Professor Azirah Hasmin, Director of the Centre for ASEAN Regionalism, University of Malaya.

Dialogue participants recommended that promoting the stories of successful leaders would be the most effective way of inspiring and supporting younger women to take up leadership positions.

‘Our media needs to look at the possibilities that can be created to share stories and receive more attention, there are so many extraordinary stories to tell — we should be considering how to promote these women as role models,’ says another Dialogue participant and Asialink Singapore Patron, Simone Lourey.

Woman looking at family photos on a mantle
Singaporean business woman, Jannie Chan, is featured in the Asialink Women in Leadership video series. Jannie moved to Australia as a teenager and cared for her younger siblings while studying at university. Credit: Two Gongs Media.

Women featured in the video series include Indonesian fashion designer and technologist, Irene Agrivina, Malaysian environmental advocate and social entrepreneur, Yasmin Rasyid, Singaporean business pioneer and founder of Asian deluxe watch retailer Hour Glass, Jannie Chan, Australian immunologist, Misty Jenkins, Vietnamese rapper, ‘Suboi’, and Philippine tri-athlete, Ani de Leon-Brown.

The profiled leaders speak frankly about the professional and personal obstacles they have overcome, from feeling left out of the public conversation through to raising a disabled child while growing a successful business.

Woman jogging with a group of people
Three-time national champion in triathlon, Ani de Leon-Brown, who mentors the next generation of Filipino women training for competitive sports. Credit: Two Gongs Media.

Ultimately, the videos are uplifting and encouraging. The women featured leave the viewer with a sense of optimism and hope as they demonstrate ways to bring creativity and inner resources to solving life’s challenges.

‘Whatever strategies you have planned, it could change tomorrow, it’s women’s balancing, multi-tasking, the ability to adapt, to tap into our intuitive powers — these are women’s strengths today,’ says Jannie Chan.

The video series was first launched by the Governor of Victoria, the Hon Linda Dessau AC, in Singapore in May 2017.

Asialink and its dialogue partners hope the video series will provide a lasting and useful tool to grow and expand the numbers of confident and connected female leaders and will promote Australia as a nation committed to and deeply engaged in Southeast Asia.

Asialink is Australia's leading centre for the promotion of public understanding of the countries of Asia and of Australia's role in the region.

Last Updated: 22 August 2017