A tale of two countries: How the Avanade Women’s Circle brings together women colleagues in Singapore and Malaysia

  • Posted on March 14, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Foong Kiew and Poh Poh (both are based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and Joanna Lee (based in Singapore) share their journey of how they established the Southeast Asia Avanade Women’s Circle and expanded it across geographies.

What is the Avanade Women’s Circle?

The Avanade Women’s Circle is a network established for women at Avanade Southeast Asia to connect regularly, exchange ideas and perspectives, as well as share their experiences. We believe that the collective sharing of perspectives and experiences is critical for women to build personal effectiveness and confidence for professional development.

What was the journey like establishing Avanade Women’s Circle in Southeast Asia?

The Avanade Women’s Circle was first established in Malaysia sometime in 2019/2020 as a core pillar of our Inclusion and Diversity strategy.

Shortly after launching the Avanade Women’s Circle in Malaysia, we organized our very first event where we gathered our female colleagues together to attend an Empower for Growth workshop. Through this event, we created a space where we could exchange our experiences and share our learnings from the workshop. It was at this very same event where we introduced the digital book: “Mastering Your Inner Critics and Top Seven Hurdles to Advancement” to the Circle.

The programs we designed for Avanade Women’s Circle were inspired by the Avanade Leadership Program for Women (ALPW) – a global program designed to advance the careers of women in technology and increase the number of women in leadership roles. This meant we organized programs that focused on helping females build skills that will enhance their ability to lead, communicate, network, and negotiate.

The feedback we received from the participants was overwhelmingly positive – with many of them expressing how much they benefited from the inspiring and insightful sessions. With the resounding success we saw in Malaysia, we expanded the Avanade Women’s Circle to Singapore in the following year.

What challenges did you face when cultivating the Avanade Women’s Circle? How did you address these challenges?

We had initially planned for our programs and events to take place in person, but this was no longer feasible when the pandemic happened. It also meant we had to pivot quickly and shift our plans towards virtual events and interactions!

Many people can probably relate to this: we were concerned that virtual events were going to be less impactful and engaging. To overcome this, we created a pre-event survey to gather feedback, and used the survey responses to inform the approach we took for each of our events. The Insights gathered from the surveys helped us tremendously with tailoring the content to ensure we delivered exceptional experiences and were able to meet our participants’ expectations.

We also invested more time to engage with our participants, following up on their interest to attend as well as reminding them about future sessions. Although these sessions are not mandatory, we felt strongly that by engaging with our Circle before each session, it would help to drive higher attendance and encourage better participation.

Reflecting on the entire experience, the feedback we received after our virtual events were positive and very encouraging! Interestingly, the pivot to virtual events helped us overcome another challenge: women who preferred 1to work from home or work at client sites were able to seamlessly participate in our events – without having to make arrangements to commute, etc.!

Looking ahead, what are your plans to sustain the momentum that the Avanade Women’s Circle?

We have planned a series of programs for our female colleagues that include: exploring the theme of challenges to career progression; distributing the digital book “Mastering Your Inner Critic and 7 Other High Hurdles to Advancement”; and finally, collaborating with Avanade’s global Women’s Employee Network. Ultimately, we hope this series of sessions will leave a lasting impact on all women at Avanade!

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