Women Breaking Through Leadership

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am


Women Breaking Through Leadership
by Stefania Lucchetti, Anna Bisazza
Restless Travellers

Stefania Lucchetti has a burning desire to smash the glass ceiling that has been preventing women from getting to the top.

Having given up a high-flying legal career partly because of difficulties juggling a young family and work, Lucchetti has been through the struggles many working women face, and understands their frustrations in a world run according to men's rules. She has dedicated herself to fostering female leadership through 'learning, awareness and discussion', and Women Breaking Through Leadership is the culmination of such efforts.

Together with journalist Anna Bisazza, Lucchetti interviewed 12 remarkable women in Southeast Asia - including former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang - exploring the choices and paths they have taken and identifying qualities that contributed to their success. They seek to find out how these women have learned to be determined, fearless and strong, as well as how they balance family and work commitments.

The book includes ideas on what companies can do to promote female leaders, but more than that, the authors hope to inspire young women through the stories of female role models.

Among them are Marie-Amelie Hoffman, general manager of LVMH Watches and Jewellery Hong Kong, whose unwavering commitment to success in business since an early age has motivated her to overcome one challenge after another.

Meanwhile, with a dose of determination and resilience, international television journalist Deborah Kan has built a name in the industry after being rejected for a job early in her career, and later switched to financial news without having worked in finance before. There's also Junko Nakagawa, the first female executive managing director and chief financial officer at Japanese bank Nomura Holdings, who kept strong connections with the company during a four-year career break and then re-entered the profession and rose to great heights.

At a time when women still bear the weight of family responsibilities, many are caught - and often forced to choose - between being a good mother and wife and a successful professional. The book shows how they can integrate family and work, such as by becoming more focused, saying 'no' to the boss and dealing with the sense of guilt arising from leaving home in the morning to go to work.

'These [profiled] women often don't separate life and work in a surgical manner,' the authors write. 'All of them have a strong passion for what they do and how they do it, and ... are able to integrate their life and work in a particular way. All of them love what they do also because of the opportunities it gives them to influence the outside world, to make an impact, to have power to do things.'

Aspiring career women who want to have it all will find plenty of food for thought and a few nuggets of wisdom here.