“What does Connect mean to you?”

SINGAPORE

NAME

Her Excellency Ms Margriet Vonno

FUNCTION

Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei

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“Connect to me means first and foremost trying to help others and not just thinking about my own business interests. By asking others what I can do for them I have experienced a lot of interesting events, adventures and have listened to touching stories. In general people will try to help you as well and look for a balanced relationship.

Challenge: I have tried to connect to a female CEO that I did not know personally. I have found that reaching out online without a personal reference did not work out. I could not get further than the PA-line of defense.

In hindsight I should have looked further into my own network to find somebody who had a personal link to refer me.

I sincerely believe in paying it forward. I try to actively look for interns from a diverse background, sometimes take a risk by giving a management position to a female without previous management experience or hire a heavily pregnant woman. The gambles so far have turned out fine. If you give people responsibility they tend to respond by doing their utmost. And lastly I will ask for help if I need it. It makes me feel stronger.”

NAME

Gina Fyffe

FUNCTION

Chief Executive Officer at INTEGRA Petrochemicals Pte Ltd

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“For me Connect has several connotations: The most important being the idea of not just bringing two or more things together but of them forming a bond or relationship that makes them more useful and stronger than if they were separate. To connect is a very basic and vital human function, and also very enjoyable and important.

A few years after I founded Integra Petrochemicals, we were struggling to expand and be organised fully for our growth plans, I could not manage the growth alone.

One of my clients working for Dow Chemical at that time was interested in leaving and setting something up for himself. He and I had formed a good working relationship and had a lot in common. He was super bright and organised as well. So we became business partners and he was the best thing that could ever have happened to our company. Together we managed to turn it into a US$1.5 billion usd global company. Along the way we got married and have two children as well, which makes this a perfect connect!”

NAME

Tay Bee Kheng

FUNCTION

Managing Director Singapore & Brunei Cisco Systems (USA) Pte Ltd

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“The theme Connect means to me connect with myself, love ones, people I work with and the community. Connect means prioritising time, being in the present and getting to know someone, something without the modern distractions and bombardment to our senses.

Striving to make an impact in someone’s life every moment of your life. It doesn’t have to be big things – a hello, a smile, a how are you will brighten yours and someone’s day. That, to me, is success.

Making connections is not always easy. It’s more about how open you are and what vibes you project. Sometimes a connection is difficult because you are not open to connect. Always believe that a difficult situation can be overcome with positivity, passion and possibility.”

NAME

Maureen DeRooij

FUNCTION

CEO Asia Pacific ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Country Executive Singapore

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My career has turned out to be very international living and working abroad for 24 years. I therefore have become a keen observer of differences in cultures but even more on that what connects us.

At ABN AMRO Asia we have 39 different nationalities in five locations. I also sit on various boards which have a highly diversified membership. To connect and to create a community where people can connect, I have learned that it has as to be about the values that bind us. It cannot be about the differences because we would never get beyond it. For instance, my staff wants to do right for future generations so we connect with our clients on sustainability and together drive that topic strongly in the region.

On boards, our key role may be governance, but we all connect on the aspiration and the values of the organization: the value a University creates for its students and future employees, how an NGO can impact society etc.

Of course, connections can start on a much less profound level. Ask any adult what they did as a child with the Chiquita banana sticker and most will say they stuck it on their forehead. An instant moment where a fond memory is shared and you are off to the races. Humour always is a true connector!

NAME

Esther Veltman

FUNCTION

Representative at Houthoff

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“Besides the obvious meaning of bringing things or people together, to me Connect is interaction with people: opening up to others, show interest, listen, be yourself, be enthusiastic, make eye contact, smile, give, make a joke and be sincere and open! I have always had the ability to connect easily with people form every background imaginable. Connecting to others comes very natural to me, which I think is mainly due to my open character. In my new role of representative for Houthoff in Singapore this has proven to be a very valuable character trait.

Sometimes the connection to someone comes from a surprising angle. My youngest son, who was one of the winners of a drawing competition, was invited to have lunch with HE Margriet Vonno, ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei. It was him, playing ‘hide and seek’ at the residence and eating a sandwich together with the ambassador, who established the initial connection between Margriet Vonno and me. Margriet kindly accepted the invitation to participate in the panel at the Singapore edition of Houthoff’s Global Corporate Ladies Event and also enabled me to connect with several other very interesting ladies for which I am still very grateful!”

NAME

Marielle Koppenol-Laforce

FUNCTION

Partner at Houthoff

PRACTICE AREAS

Arbitration
Litigation

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“Connecting or being connected means to me:

  • to find the topic that is closest to the heart of the person you want to connect with to have a sincere connection
  • to be able to laugh with other people
  • that you have to work for it but with large rewards if it works
  • that you are not imposing but respecting and open to receive
  • a secret wish to be able to do a world tour without hotels because I would be staying over with old and new connections with my tent in the garden or on the balcony, which would be a great adventure

You have to work on the connection with each individual team member to build the team to be a whole, to show that connections are of utmost importance, to make the team grow and perform above each individual member, whether this is in your own small private space or on a larger scale at work, or even with foreign teams involved. Only in such way you get a supreme result which makes the client and the team happy and awaken the best character and abilities of people. Why do you do it? It is fun, rewarding and above all because you think it is right and fits with your own approach to the world.” Click on read more for the sequel.

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