Cover Photo: Imran Sulaiman

The young fintech leader explains PolicyStreet's unlimited leave policy and the importance of having more finance conversations with females in the workplace

What are the challenges facing female fintech leaders in Malaysia?

I think in Malaysia, many women still do not have the courage and confidence to start a business on their own. I understand what they are going through because when I started working in the finance industry six years ago, I needed a lot of encouragement from both my female and male counterparts. It’s not easy, but the good news is that there are more platforms available to encourage and promote entrepreneurship as a viable option.

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What do you think is holding more women back from accepting leadership positions?

Women tend to suffer from imposter syndrome, the feeling that they are unqualified for the positions they’ve earned. I think many women require external validation to show them that they deserve that promotion or raise. Speaking from my personal experience working in the corporate sector, I understand how they feel. Being new to the industry, I was unsure of my potential, and I often felt judged because of my age, experience and gender. Fortunately, things have changed as there is more female representation in the boardroom. While it isn’t a 50:50 split, it nevertheless is a goal that we are working towards.

Who has supported you and helped propel you to where you are today?

Most of those who have helped me along the way are men. While my first two bosses were female, I’ve had a few male bosses and mentors who have played a big part in my life. That is not to mention my male co-founders at PolicyStreet and my husband, who has unconditionally supported me while I juggle running a startup.

See also: Speaking Up and Embracing Challenges: 3 Female CEOs Who Walk the Talk

In your opinion, what are the strengths and capabilities that female leaders bring to the table? Who did you look up to during your rise up in your career?

I think female leaders bring so much because they are excellent multitaskers. They are also trailblazers in their own right, charting the path forward for others. I found it challenging to find a female fintech leader I can refer

to for advice in insurance tech. The reason may be that there aren’t many female talents and leaders in my field. That said, I concluded that if there was no one in this space, I had to step up to become the leader and role model to advise and help others who are coming up in the insurtech arena.

How do you support female talent in your organisation? Do you hold regular engagements with them?

Admittedly, I have not done a lot of check-ins with my staff lately because things have been busy, and the team is much larger now. But I used to organise mini chat sessions with my female staff back in the day when PolicyStreet was smaller. We would talk about investments, and I understood that many women are afraid of investing in their future. I always encourage my female colleagues to take charge of their finances during our conversations. This year, I’ve made it my objective to delegate more tasks to have more time to make these empowering conversations with the female staff in PolicyStreet.

More: TechSprint Academy Is Malaysia's First All-Women Coding School

How can companies create a more supportive working environment for women?

I think supporting female staff has to come from the very top, and it involves listening to their needs and implementing inclusive policies. For example, we have an unlimited leave policy for managers and above. If you need time off and provide a justifiable reason, there is no limit for the number of days you can apply for leave. Companies need to be aware of the changing family dynamics today and perform regular check-ins with employees. Start by doing monthly or quarterly surveys to gauge the effects of policies implemented and then adjust accordingly. It’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time and need to change halfway. I believe that employees do not see frequent policy changes as something negative, instead it shows that the company is actively listening and engaging with them. Do not hesitate to constantly adapt and change when change is required instead of changing because someone else has done so already.

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