“At work, I’m known as the ‘tiger mum’. It’s not because I’m fierce and demanding, but because I’m very protective,” she said.
Taking on the role of nanny came naturally for Chua – the second of five siblings – who grew up in a one-bedroom flat in Beach Road.
“I learned to take responsibility. In my daily interactions with members of the community, including butchers and fishball noodle vendors, I have witnessed life in all its quirks and challenges and developed the will to work hard. .
“Humble backgrounds are often seen as limitations. But for me, having four more siblings cultivated my teamwork habits and the ability to take care of others,” Chua said.
Still, Chua found herself having to adapt her personal “mummy bear” brand to professional life.
“I’ve had mentors tell me I’m way too protective. One of them said that I had to let people realize that they had to change – that I couldn’t keep telling them to change.
“I learned that all you need to do is steer people in the right direction to make them realize for themselves that they need to make some changes. It’s more powerful than telling them to change,” she said.
ON LEADERSHIP AND MOTHERHOOD
Decades of experience working at the same company are part of the foundation on which she builds her success as chief executive, but Chua insists no one is ever 100% prepared for a new role.
“Before stepping into a new role, there are a lot of doubts. That’s perfectly fine. I find women in particular like to make sure we’re 110 per cent prepared before stepping into a role.
“But trust me, you’ll never be fully prepared,” she said.
Despite changing gender perceptions, the mother-of-two said women who take on new roles tend to have “a lot more consideration” when it comes to their children and family, compared to to their male counterparts.
To remove “roadblocks” so these women would not have to choose between responsibilities at home and taking on a leadership role at work, Chua cultivated a culture of teamwork and flexibility.