DP Architects' Angelene Chan Shares Her Secrets To Being A Successful Leader
April 5, 2018 | BY Karishma Tulsidas
As the only woman heading up one of the five main architectural firms in Singapore, Angelene Chan has guts and gumption—and plenty of heart. The award-winning CEO of DP Architects' has spearheaded a number of notable projects, including the Dubai Mall and Sunray Woodcraft Construction Headquarters.
What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?
Angelene Chan (AC) The best decision I have ever made is to marry my husband and have our children.
My family is the most precious to me, so every time I have to give up family time for work feels like a bad decision to me. But my family is my greatest support and they know that I only do that when it is absolutely necessary.
(Related: 10 women who are shaping Singapore)
What was your dream job as a child?
AC Exactly what I’m doing today—an architect.
In your opinion, what characteristics have made you a successful leader?
AC In my opinion, to be successful requires courage, pragmatism and hard work. Courage to trust your instincts, ignore the naysayers, to venture forth and do what others have not tried. Pragmatism to set realistic goals, to make calculated moves in the long-term interest of your team. And hard work; you have to work harder and smarter than everyone else.
As a leader, I am only as good as my team. In other words, my success is dependent on the success of my team. I care about the people I work with. In DP, we have a slogan, Every DPian Matters. It is important to me to empower my people by letting them speak, listening to their opinions, giving them opportunities to grow in their profession, helping them be the best version of themselves.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
AC Women are often too hard on ourselves. We feel the need to take on everything yet we feel guilty when we drop a ball or two. We are our worst critics. I think it is time we stopped going against ourselves. As women, we need to start taking our own side for once. Be our own cheerleaders, our own heroines. We need to trust that we are made for greater things, know that we can affect change and impact lives, understand that we have a choice, and step up. CEO or not, we need to be a leader in our own right and in our own place.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
AC Juggling family and work. Raising a family while pursuing a high-stress profession like architecture is tough. Both motherhood and design are 24/7 undertakings; both require fulltime commitment.
What is your vision for the future of DP Architects?
AC The foundations that root DP are firm and well-grounded. As CEO, my vision is to see the company go further and deeper. To achieve this and keep ahead of the competition, we have three key areas of focus: increase specialisation in architecture-related disciplines, harness the power of technology to enhance design, and raise the DP brand globally.
What do you consider your biggest weakness?
AC Not being able to sit for long to properly enjoy a movie or read a book.
What is the key for finding a successful work-life balance?
AC Be present. At work, focus on the job at hand; at home, put work aside and focus on family.
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