Caviar Colony and ATE Group's Celine Tan on asking for a pay raise and other career tips: Leading Women #1
Welcome to 'Leading Women', a new monthly column where I'll be bringing you sage career and financial advice from successful Singapore-based female leaders and bosses. You'll hear the inside scoop on their personal journeys, how they reached the top, and their tips on how you can get ahead in the workplace.
To kick off the series, I've profiled Celine Tan who holds leadership roles in two businesses as co-founder and COO of Caviar Colony as well as the ATE Group. In a nutshell, she is responsible for the strategic initiatives of both companies, which include brand communications, client and operations management, and international partnerships.
Landing the Job
When you interview candidates these days, what's your favourite interview question, and why?
What is your greatest weakness? What are you not good at? This helps me understand if they are self-aware and confident that they are still going to be hired because their good outweighs the bad. I also be able to determine whether their shortcomings 'fit' my team.
It's a common belief that women get paid less than men. What advice or tips do you have for young female executives who are looking for a pay rise?
There is always equal opportunity. However, you have to be clear about what you want, and what you can achieve for the company.
Be realistic and do not jump the gun. Just because your parents think you should be paid a certain amount doesn't mean your employer has to. When asking for a pay rise, always be ready to talk about what you have achieved, but keep in mind that you work in a team. Do not ever discount others' contributions. Finally, outline what you intend to do for the company moving forward.
Being The Boss
From choosing the right outfits to saying no, women can find it difficult to lead and manage on their own terms. What have been your biggest challenges as a boss?
We have quite an open flat structure at our company, so sometimes helping the young executives understand that I am still their boss can be a challenge at first. I am always quite honest and upfront, so sometimes new staffers might get a bit of a culture shock.
Occasionally, they can get quite emotional when I'm hard on them regarding the way they manage clients. Ultimately, I spend time, explaining that at work, clients come first and that they need to strive to achieve the best for themselves and our business, which they need to see as their own.
It's important to be fair, clear, and kind. A rule I have and I am sure people who have worked or are working with me can attest to this — think before you speak. If it doesn't result in a positive change, don't say it.
Saving and Investing
With regards to earning, spending, saving and investing — how would you describe your relationship with money, and what's one thing every millennial should do with their money right now?
My husband and I just welcomed our first born late last year, so I am more careful with my money. I've started to think in terms of the next 20 to 30 years now, instead of the next five. It's about how can I make my money last for the long haul.
For millennials, I've got two words: invest and insurance. While you are young, you must protect yourself financially. Be sure to equip yourself with a trustworthy consultant that'll only advise you to buy the essentials to protect yourself and get some money back in a term plan.
Living the Dream
Looking ahead, what are some key skills you hope to acquire or goals you hope to achieve?
I am still learning every day, even from my most junior staff. I believe that everyone has something to teach me. I want to improve on my digital tech skills, so I'm spending time with some of my team members who have graduated from local design schools.
While ATE has been running smoothly for a while now, Caviar Colony is in its infancy, having launched just earlier this year. I want to ensure that Caviar Colony achieves global recognition. We are a Singapore-founded brand, and we truly believe that quality caviar should be accessible to a wide range of discerning customers through genuine pricing. We also employ sustainable practices by using most of the by-products as well as following a zero-wastage policy as best as we can.
When it comes to planning and dreaming success, what tools and tips have proven useful so far?
Perseverance is crucial. Never discount the value and impact of hard work. Having an open mind is invaluable, too. You never know where that will lead you in your quest for success.
One useful technique I've discovered was shared by my business partner Su-Lyn. It's a 5 year journal. Everyday on the same day, for 5 years, you pen down what you feel that includes any thoughts, dreams or challenges. You can look back on the same day every year to see how your life has evolved. It helps me take stock of my life and whether I need to improve myself. Sometimes I discover that I have been sweating the small things and that looking at the bigger picture is more important.