September 3rd, 2014 | 6:00 am

Change Your Impact, Accelerate Your Career

SaraCanadayBy Sara Canaday

In July, I had the privilege of delivering a keynote speech to 500 incredibly talented professionals at Working Mother Media’s annual Multicultural Women’s National Conference in New York City. As I took the stage on the first morning and began to share my story, I was struck by the remarkable vibe in the room. These women weren’t just present; they were fully engaged. I was surrounded by current and emerging leaders representing a wide range of industries, ages and cultures, and they were all totally plugged in. The message was genuinely resonating with them.

The theme of the conference was “Vision & Impact: Charting What’s Next.” My work in the area of leadership and development has always focused on the importance of our impact in the workplace. Credentials and years of experience aside, our real career success is driven by how we work with and through other people – how we lead them, collaborate with them, interact with them, and react to them. When we manage that impact and ensure that others experience us in the way we intend, we can accelerate the pace of our professional trajectories.

Here’s the problem… Many times, there’s a hidden gap between what we see and what those around us see. When there’s an impact disconnect (even a very subtle one), our careers can be inadvertently derailed while we are left wondering what went wrong. I call those disconnects professional blind spots. Despite our best intentions, these blind spots may be holding us back or preventing us from reaching our full potential.

Think about your co-workers. Do you know someone who is generally smart, hard working and well intentioned, but still manages to rub people the wrong way? There’s a fine line between decisive and abrupt. Between passionate and overzealous. Between meticulous and annoyingly nit-picky. Between innovative and rebellious. These people might have great resumes, but blind spots are likely the reason they are getting overlooked for promotions or high-visibility assignments. Their intended impact on others doesn’t match up with the actual impact they deliver. Subtle behaviors and unconscious habits are sabotaging their success, and they simply can’t see it.

Quite a few women approached me after my presentation to recount fascinating stories about people in their organizations who were clearly struggling with professional blind spots. Surprisingly, quite a few of these people were bold enough to describe their own “a-ha! moments,” identifying blind spots they never before acknowledged but now see as the culprit behind some of their past career missteps. These women all seemed to understand that everyone suffers from blind spots, but those who end up in the boardroom or the corner office have just learned how to manage them better.

I challenged the conference attendees that day to move beyond their resumes as they thought about achieving their professional goals. I asked them to focus on the impact they have on others, ensuring their intentions were translating into reality. I gave them three ways to do that, and I’d like to share those with you as well.

First, increase your self-awareness. Be honest about your natural tendencies and habits when you interact with others. How do your colleagues feel about working with you? Ideally, how would you like them to feel? Eliminating blind spots certainly isn’t about changing who you are, but about understanding yourself and making conscious adjustments to improve your impact on others.

Second, get specific feedback from your co-workers to find out how you are really perceived. This process might be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely critical to help uncover any blind spots that could be slowing down your career progress. Besides that, getting feedback will also point out your strengths and the distinguishing qualities that set you apart. If you’ve had trouble defining your value proposition, this exercise can give you amazing clarity. You can gather feedback using a wide range of methods, from formal reviews with your manager to casual conversations with peers. Online surveys are another excellent option. For corporate clients and students in my virtual Career Acceleration Academy, I provide access to my Brand 360 Survey. This easy, online tool allows them to gather rich, anonymous feedback from a select group of colleagues.

Third, compare your ideal impact with the actual impact you discovered by gathering feedback. Look closely at the areas where you are right on target for strengths you can further leverage. Any areas with gaps represent your own professional blind spots. Armed with that knowledge, you can work to close those gaps and actively improve the impact you have on others. Simply being aware of your blind spots and unique differentiators will help you make the small changes that can make a big difference in your career success.

As women, many of us have an innate gift for intuition and emotional intelligence. Research proves that we are “wired” over several thousand years for greater empathy and stronger communication skills. I firmly believe these qualities give us a huge advantage in the workplace when it comes to uncovering and eliminating our professional blind spots. We can use that capacity to improve the way we impact others, to fuel our career progress, and to create greater business success. This nugget of insight truly resonated with the women attending the recent conference, and I sincerely hope it does the same for you.

Sara Canaday ( is a nationally recognized leadership expert, corporate speaker and owner of Sara Canaday & Associates, a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. Sara is also a resource partner of and to help conference attendees use a systematic, quantifiable approach to improving their business impact, Sara offered an exclusive discount on her popular online course, the Career Acceleration Academy, including her Brand 360 Survey. For a limited time, Sara wants to extend that same offer to Glass Hammer readers. To register and get more details, please visit Use Code GH001.

September 2nd, 2014 | 6:00 am

Thought Leader: Alison Maitland, Future Work – Moving to an Output-Oriented Work Culture

rsz_maitland-highresAlison Maitland is a business author, speaker and conference moderator who specialises in leadership, diversity, and the new world of work. She is Director of The Conference Board’s Europe-based Council for Diversity in Business, a Senior Visiting Fellow at London’s Cass Business School, and co-author of the prize-winning book Why Women Mean Business. Alison, with co-author Peter Thomson, recently published the second edition of Future Work and she sat down with to share her views on why future work is a critical part of an organisation’s long term success.

The Glass Hammer: How is future work different to flexible working?
Alison Maitland: Flexible work arrangements tend to be tactical initiatives by HR, targeted at individuals and disconnected from any strategy being pursued by the organisation’s leadership. They do not fundamentally alter the current work model.

What we call “future work” is a business strategy to move away from focusing on inputs to viewing work as an activity that produces desired results. The focus is on performance and outcomes, not hours spent in the office, and people have much greater autonomy and choice about how, where and when they carry out their tasks.

Communications technology is of course the great enabler of this. Future work is about giving everyone the tools, information and objectives they need and then letting them get on with the job in the way that works best. To become a core part of a company’s culture, it needs to be driven by leaders across the organisation – IT, finance, communications and real estate as well as HR and leadership development.

TGH: Why is future work important now?
AM: The new workforce is looking for something very different from the traditional career and work model. The International Women’s Forum UK recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a survey asking current and emerging female leaders about success, including what they would do differently if starting again. While many of the senior women said they would not do anything differently, some wished they had said “no” more often during their careers or been less hard on themselves. One said “We have to change the concept of work to make it more relevant to a woman’s life.” The responses from the younger women placed strong value on balance, happiness, fulfilment, and the need to pace and prioritise carefully. These trends are supported by a global ACCA/Mercer survey, which we reference in Future Work. The survey asked over 3,200 millennial finance professionals how they felt about their jobs. It found that this generation wants a much broader range of benefits from working life and that making more money is a less important factor in career success than it was to previous generations.

What does this mean for organisations? Employers can no longer assume that employees will put up with having to work at rigid times in a fixed location if it does not make sense to do so. If employers don’t offer greater autonomy and choice, they will struggle to attract top talent. Future work also allows companies to draw from a broader and more diverse talent pool, which in turn should lead to more innovative organisations. Future work is not a nice-to-have – it should be a viewed as a priority by leaders looking to deliver sustainable success.

TGH: Are leaders really convinced about the benefits of future work?
AM: Those we feature in the book definitely are! But many managers still fear that people won’t work if they can’t see them sitting at their desks around them – hence the jacket-on-chair syndrome. In reality, most people are more productive and motivated when they feel empowered and trusted by their managers to get the work done, regardless of time or place. Through a combination of surveys and case studies, we’ve shown that there is a wide range of benefits for business, including increased productivity, more reliable business continuity, faster access to market, and reduced costs. Organisations need to do a better job of measuring these benefits to see what a difference future work can make.

Keep reading »

September 1st, 2014 | 6:00 am

Happy Labor Day!

iStock_000003543959XSmallThe Glass Hammer is taking a publishing break for Labor Day and will return tomorrow with more articles, profiles, and event updates for you!

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Enjoy your long weekend!

August 29th, 2014 | 6:00 am

Summer Fridays!

Happy Summer Friday from The Glass Hammer Team!

You can catch up on this week’s content here:

  • Voice of Experience: Nora Wu, PwC Global Vice Chairwoman, PwC Global Human Capital Leader
  • Voice of Experience: Stephanie Hui, head of the Merchant Banking Division in Asia Pacific Ex-Japan, Goldman Sachs
  • Voice of Experience: Paloma Wang, Partner, Capital Markets Group, Shearman & Sterling
  • Voice of Experience: Karen Loon, Banking and Capital Markets Leader, PwC Singapore
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    Enjoy your weekend!

    August 28th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Karen Loon, Banking and Capital Markets Leader, PwC Singapore

    Welcome the The Glass Hammer’s “Spotlight on Asia” week! We will be highlighting successful women working in Asia all week long!

    rsz_1pwc-loon_karen-2014-6p9a8351-fullBy Cathie Ericson

    Karen Loon, recently appointed as PwC Singapore’s Banking and Capital Markets Leader, knows that making assumptions based on someone’s gender is a mistake. Assumptions based on appearance are often equally misleading. That’s because while some might assume that Loon was born in Asia, she’s actually a fourth-generation, Australian-born Chinese.

    That’s why her interest in diversity runs deeper than just gender. “I am passionate about ensuring that both women and those from culturally diverse backgrounds are given the right opportunities to thrive within their organizations,” she says, which makes her the ideal fit to be PwC Singapore’s Territory Diversity Leader.

    A Career in Accounting Added up for Loon
    Loon began her career after graduating from Sydney University. Her parents were business owners who had business acquaintances who were accountants and encouraged her to consider it as a career.

    She participated in vacation internships with other accounting firms, and decided she liked the culture of PwC, which she joined in 1990. She was seconded to PwC Singapore in 1994 when a one-week training in the Netherlands opened her eyes to the possibility of working outside of Australia, coupled with her growing conviction that Singapore was ripe for a booming economy, and decided to stay for the longer term.

    The move was less conventional than one would guess, because as Loon says, “Most Australians have a strong affinity for the U.K.” Furthermore, though she is ethnically Chinese, Loon doesn’t speak Chinese. “It’s very difficult to feel like an outsider. I was fortunate to be coached and mentored by supportive people.”

    Climbing the Ladder as a Woman
    Becoming a partner was not easy to achieve and certainly ranks as one of her proudest professional achievements. In fact she says that though she didn’t realize it at the time, she had never met a female audit partner when she started in Sydney.

    “Women partners were few and far between in Sydney,” she says, adding that Singapore was more progressive in this area with some of the women partners having kids. “There is more family support in Asia. The values in Sydney tend toward mothers staying home.”

    During a recent two-year return to Australia, Loon reflected on her values and how she had changed — and how other aspects of the firm had changed. “There are now more women partners, but we are still clearly the minority. It made me more passionate about making sure there are opportunities for everyone.”

    Diversity Committee Feeds Her Passion
    That’s why she finds her work with her Singapore diversity committee to be so satisfying. In addition to her recent appointment as a Territory Diversity Leader, she is also the East Cluster Financial Services People Leader, East Cluster Diversity Coordinator and a member of the Global Financial Services Diversity Steering Committee.

    “Being open to diversity is how businesses can retain talent,” she says, adding that the broader issue facing all organizations is how cultural diversity, not just gender diversity, will continue to dominate the discussion.

    “Companies have to be cognizant of culture and open to accepting that people come with different values and backgrounds. Companies that continue to focus with a just a western lens will be at a disadvantage. Those who understand different types of clients and environments will be the successful ones. Otherwise it’s so easy to offend someone without even realizing it.”

    Keep reading »

    August 27th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Nora Wu, PwC Global Vice Chairwoman, PwC Global Human Capital Leader

    Welcome the The Glass Hammer’s “Spotlight on Asia” week! We will be highlighting successful women working in Asia all week long!

    rsz_nora_wu_photoBy Irene Solaz

    Nora Wu believes that achievements do not determine success, but that success is determined by the obstacles that have been overcome. She herself has faced numerous challenges and barriers on her journey to being appointed PwC Global Vice Chairwoman and Global Human Capital Leader in July. “My professional career got off to a late start,” she recounts. “I started my family before I began to focus on my career and by the time I joined the accounting profession in 1988, my daughter was already two years old.”

    As she recalls, she was the only female staff member from mainland China to be hired by one of the then-Big Eight accounting firms in San Francisco. “I was born and raised in China, which back then had yet to open itself up to the rest of the world. The US work culture was completely different and it was tough for me to immerse myself in such a highly competitive and demanding environment,” she explains.

    Her new job required that she learn new professional skills and improve her English, but it also prompted her to appreciate cultural differences and new communication styles, while learning the importance of work-life balance. After her son was born, she took two years off to focus on her young family. “When I came back to work, I was competing with much younger colleagues who did not have the same challenges as me,” she says. “Becoming a partner at the firm did not even feature in my wildest dreams.”

    In 1995, she moved back to China and became the only female manager in the Arthur Andersen Shanghai office. Five years later, she would become the first female partner. “Although my career got off to a later start, I never let that become a disadvantage,” she recalls. “I had the opportunity to see my kids grow and be there when they needed me but I was still able to dedicate myself to my career. Most importantly, I learned to focus on what I wanted to achieve in life and how to strike a balance between being a mother, wife, daughter and respected professional and leader.”

    Women in Leadership
    The challenges Wu has faced in her career have made her a better, more effective leader. When she was appointed PwC China’s Shanghai Office Lead Partner in 2006, she faced difficulties garnering support, especially among her predominantly male colleagues with more experience. “Giving up was never an option,” she remembers. “Instead, I reached out and found areas where I could add value as a leader, and slowly I began to earn the trust and respect of my partners and team. It was a rocky start but I’m proud to say that the mindset has since changed.”

    Women face several barriers in the industry and Wu highlights two: fear and self-doubt. “Women tend to underestimate their capabilities,” she admits. “This is something that we can learn from our male counterparts. In many cases, even if they doubt themselves, men will still grab an opportunity and embrace it. Organizations can do more to help women, but ultimately, it’s up to us to take on new challenges and show we can lead.”

    She advises women to let go of their fears and inhibitions, take advantage of opportunities and treat every challenge as a learning opportunity. “You never know where one opportunity or interaction will lead you and you only can find out if you give it your best shot,” she says. “You should never be afraid to work hard or put in the long hours. Work-life balance is indeed possible, especially if you do not separate your work and your life. By aligning your purpose, personality, and aspirations, it will be easier to create a balance. I’ve personally seen the transformation in our young associates who have risen to become very successful.”

    But it can be hard to know your purpose in life when you are young and just starting your career, so Wu advises people to ask themselves what they want in life and what will bring them meaning and fulfillment. “To begin finding out what your purpose in life is, imagine looking back forty years from now and asking yourself what would make you proud, or if you would be able to admit to having lived a full and meaningful life,” she suggests. “The answers will give you a good indication of what you want, or should, aim for in life.” Wu also encourages the development of peer groups that are both trustworthy and supportive, as this enables sharing and mutual learning from different challenges and experiences.

    Working in PwC
    In her new role overseeing the development and execution of PwC’s global human capital strategy, Wu is very excited about the opportunities for the 184,000 people throughout the global network of firms. “We want to see how we can move the network’s people agenda forward,” she says. “The digital revolution is changing the world at a rapid pace and each year, PwC firms around the world hire about 20,000 graduate millennials. These future leaders grew up with technology, smartphones, tablets and cloud computing.”

    Keep reading »

    August 26th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Paloma Wang, Partner, Capital Markets Group, Shearman & Sterling

    Welcome the The Glass Hammer’s “Spotlight on Asia” week! We will be highlighting successful women working in Asia all week long!

    paloma_wang_shearmanBy Michelle Hendelman

    At just 37 years old, Paloma Wang’s rapid ascension to the partnership at global law firm Shearman & Sterling, where she specializes in initial public offerings (IPOs) and other corporate finance transactions in the firm’s Hong Kong office, is a tale worth telling. Her career achievements are a testament to the value of establishing a long-term vision and having the drive to make it a reality.

    “You need to determine your own path and carve out your own unique identity,” Wang advises when reflecting on her career to date. “Don’t let anyone else dictate who you are as a professional or as a person.”

    She adds, “By establishing your own priorities and doing the things that truly make you happy, you will drive your career path in the right direction. Don’t make concessions because you are junior or because you are a woman. Plant your feet firmly and set your sights on achieving everything you want.”

    Career in Law
    Born and raised in China, Wang graduated from a top law school and afterwards was offered a three-year, fully-funded scholarship to study law at Oxford. Wang received her training at a UK law firm in Hong Kong and in December 2005 she became qualified to practice law in Hong Kong.

    Traditionally, the legal market in Hong Kong has been dominated by UK firms, but over the last five years, Wang explained, more and more US-based law firms are opening Hong Kong practices. Wang joined the team at Shearman & Sterling when the firm launched its Hong Kong law practice in January 2010. Currently, her practice focuses primarily on capital markets, representing both issuers and underwriters in IPOs. She also advises investors and corporates on private equity investments and listed issuers on compliance, general corporate and regulatory matters.

    Although the majority of her practice is focused on Hong Kong, Wang noted that there is definitely an increase in large deals that require a lot of cross-border work and coordination with institutions in foreign jurisdictions, particularly the United States. “The integration of US law and Hong Kong law has been hugely successful at the firm’s Hong Kong office since many of the IPOs on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange have a US component as well,” she explains.

    Changing Regulatory Landscape
    According to Wang, the regulatory landscape in Hong Kong is very different from that of the US, but one of the most exciting aspects of her job recently has been witnessing the transformation of the Hong Kong regulatory regime.

    Keep reading »

    August 25th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Stephanie Hui, head of the Merchant Banking Division in Asia Pacific Ex-Japan, Goldman Sachs

    Welcome the The Glass Hammer’s “Spotlight on Asia” week! We will be highlighting successful women working in Asia all week long!

    Hui, Stephanie (1)By Michelle Hendelman

    “Earlier in my career, I was more reserved about expressing my views,” said Stephanie Hui, head of the Merchant Banking Division in Asia Pacific Ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs.

    “But over time, I realized we are in the business of taking calculated risks and just keeping my head down to produce top quality work while hoping others would notice would not make me a leader. Instead, I would have to effectively and respectfully influence outcome. I learned that being vocal in the right context is important,” she added.

    Hui noted that being a Chinese woman who grew up in a conservative family in Hong Kong certainly influenced her professionally, but that finding her voice has definitely had a positive impact on her career.

    Career Journey
    Hui joined Goldman Sachs in the Principal Investment Area (“PIA”) as an analyst in New York after graduating from Harvard College in 1995 with a biology degree.

    “At first,” she said, “This was supposed to be a short stint before graduate school, but I ended up staying, leaving and then returning again. Now, I am going onto my 18th year at the firm.”

    After spending her first two years at Goldman Sachs in the New York office, Hui transferred to the Hong Kong office in 1997 for a year to be with her family and also to witness the handover of Hong Kong. Once this year was completed, Hui returned to the United States to earn her MBA at Harvard Business School.

    “There, I met my husband and upon graduation, we both decided to return to Hong Kong to live and work,” Hui continued. “It was natural for me to seek out Goldman Sachs, since I wanted to continue to do private equity. Goldman Sachs’ Principal Investment Area was a pioneer in the field globally, but particularly in Asia, and I had an excellent analyst experience.”

    Hui was promoted to Executive Director, and in 2010, to partner. In 2012 she became the Co-Head of the Merchant Banking Division for Asia ex-Japan. “I am proud of being trusted to run a leading private equity business in Asia with a multi-billion dollar portfolio that continues to grow. I am also most proud of the team that we have developed and built,” Hui explained.

    She added, “We have talented individuals who have a passion for investing, a strong desire to achieve excellence, and are just good and fun people. Being shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches with my esteemed colleagues makes each day a new and exciting adventure.”

    According to Hui, one of the most exciting aspects of her job is working in the epicenter of economic growth. “Our job is to go around the region, sometimes to remote areas, meeting with entrepreneurs and searching for the next exciting company that would become the sector winner. There is never a dull moment,” she said.

    Women in Private Equity
    Hui indicated that from her experience, the most successful investors in private equity tend to be those who have had longevity in the industry and have witnessed many boom and bust cycles. This is one reason, she noted, that funds don’t have a lot of people movement. “Since teams are lean, recruiting at the junior level is sporadic and tends to be done via informal referral. Hence, to date, few women have been hired into the industry,” Hui explained.

    Keep reading »

    August 22nd, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Summer Fridays!

    Happy Summer Friday from The Glass Hammer Team!

    You can catch up on this week’s content here:

  • Voice of Experience: Pamela Yeo, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, AIG PC Asia Pacific
  • Update: Spotlight on Asia 2014 – China and Singapore: Baby Steps Towards Improving Gender Diversity
  • Update: Spotlight on Asia 2014 (part 2): Japan Continues to Lag in Diversity Rankings
  • Voice of Experience: Anna Chung, Counsel, Project Development & Finance, Shearman & Sterling
  • Want to get these stories in your inbox? Sign up here for our weekly newsletter.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    August 21st, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Anna Chung, Counsel, Project Development & Finance, Shearman & Sterling

    rsz_anna_chungBy Irene Solaz

    To Anna Chung, landing your “dream job” is not a question of whether you are female or male but rather of how good you are. As a Singapore-based senior lawyer at global law firm Shearman & Sterling, Chung has demonstrated the ability to shine on client work throughout Asia and, increasingly, around the world.

    A project finance lawyer, Chung’s practice focuses on power, LNG, oil and gas, and petrochemicals projects. She began her career at a leading Australian firm but left after a few years for Shearman & Sterling.

    “To be honest, my career was not particularly planned out, but I’ve been fortunate in having opportunities come my way,” she explains. “I knew I wanted life experiences in cities beyond the city where I grew up, and with Shearman & Sterling, I’ve been able to work in our London and Shanghai offices and am currently working out of our Singapore office.”

    While she works on projects throughout Asia, Chung says it has been particularly meaningful to be one of the firm’s leading lawyers serving clients in Korea. She has been doing joint pitches, coordinating marketing trips to Seoul and preparing business plans as the firm expands its client base in Korea.

    “It’s meaningful for me as Korea is where I am originally from,” Chung explains. “Our global project finance practice is quite an integrated one, and from fairly early on in my career, I’ve worked with senior partners from different offices on projects involving Korean financial institutions or corporates.”

    She adds, “Korea is increasingly an important market for us with Korean financial institutions and corporates so active in the international project finance scene. We have been investing in our Korean relationships for some time now and it’s rewarding that as a firm and individually, we are getting significant market recognition.”

    Loving Your Job
    Chung has had two professional role models during her career to date – partners Bill McCormack at Shearman & Sterling and Michael Harrison at Minter Ellison. According to Chung, they are recognised experts in their fields but the real reason is that despite “the pressures and demands that come with such busy practices and management roles,” they manage to have a great sense of humor, treat every person with respect and be dedicated to their family.

    Just like her role models, Chung finds humor in difficult situations. Throughout her career as a lawyer she has learned that little details, such as the correct date of an overseas pitch, do matter.

    “Sometimes errors can work in your favor,” she explains. “One of my partners at Shearman & Sterling still teases me for getting the date wrong for an overseas pitch for a $1.2bn project. We arrived at the client’s offices a week early but still managed to win the pitch.”

    Keep reading »