Cover Angelica Chan (Photo: Traveloka)

The country manager of Traveloka Malaysia shares the values that shape her leadership style today

After more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, Angelica Chan learned very early on that perseverance was the best response to adversity. She recalls applying for multiple hospitality jobs in Australia as a fresh graduate, only to be turned down repeatedly. Her first job after university was back in Kuala Lumpur at Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur, where she started her career in the housekeeping department. She also worked as a receptionist and a waitress before moving into sales and marketing.

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“Doing laundry, tagging people’s underwear, receiving reservations and bookings—I knew I had to start at the bottom. It was a great way to understand the inner workings of the hotel,” muses Chan, who worked at online travel platforms like Agoda and Orbitz before joining Traveloka in 2016.

Reflecting on her career experiences and how the right leadership can be a game-changer for mums in the workplace, Chan shares her biggest takeaways as a leader in the travel tech sector.

Getting to the top means starting from the bottom

After university, I had a degree but no working experience. Applying for jobs in Australia was really tough. Australian kids typically studied and worked part-time, so many of them would already have some work experience. As Asians, we tended to focus studying. So I came back to Malaysia and started working in housekeeping, as a receptionist and in F&B. It was a helpful experience.   

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Taking a chance on the younger generation

Applying that experience to Traveloka Malaysia, I realise the importance of giving opportunities to new graduates, even if they might not have any work experience. That's where training comes in. If not, how else will the younger generation have the opportunity to grow? 

Employees are more likely to stay in the company when they have a clear career path 

In the hotel industry, people move from company to company. I often wondered: Why can’t we retain good people? It's important to have a career growth path for every individual. One-to-one communication with team members is vital at Traveloka, and we ensure that every team member has a career path drawn up after we understand more about their interests. 

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Being a leader dedicated to helping working mums succeed

Being a career woman with kids is not easy. I found it difficult to juggle my career and my family. When I managed the pre-opening for a wellness resort years ago, it took a lot of my energy. Time management was crucial, especially when I also had a young daughter to care for.

Managing your time is important, but so is having a good boss. I’ve been through that experience. I know how to guide younger women who are going through the same thing. For our team members who are planning to have kids, we ensure they have the right career path so they won't have to abandon what they have worked so hard for after starting a family. It’s just a matter of balancing things and ensuring they have a solid team behind them.

Caring for the wellbeing of employees outside of work

I've always believed that family life is just as important as work life, and both must balance. If you’re happy at work, you’re happy at home. If you’re happy at home, you’re happy at work.

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