half the sky was in attendance at the People Matters TechHR conference in Singapore where we had the opportunity and privilege of interviewing Joji Gill the Managing Director, Singapore & Global HR Delivery & Corporate Functions Leader for DuPont.
In this exclusive interview Joji shared with us her advice on being a leader in Chemical & Technology sector, how to manage work travel when you have a young child, the 3 main skills people need to have for the future of work and 3 essential career tips.
Enjoy our interview with Joji — we know you’ll be inspired!
JOJI: I'm Joji Gill. I work for DuPont. I'm responsible for international HR. That includes all of Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, Middle East, Africa. I also wear the hat of a business role, I'm the Managing Director for DuPont Singapore. So I have dual hats - I have a business hat and I have an HR hat.
SABRINA: And Joji, historically, leadership positions within the technology and chemical sector which is where you are in now. The sector has been male-dominated. So in your experience, what advice would you give to other aspiring females if they want to be a leader, just like you?
JOJI: You know, I just think that you have to be very clear of what you want in life, and in your career. You have to be able to ask for it. Once you know what you want. If you want to be a manager, if you want to start managing people, you want to become a business director, you want to become a director of a function, you want global responsibility, you want regional responsibilities, you've got to have that clarity of thought and then you should go ask for it. People are not just going to give it to you just because you want it. You also have to then go share that with your leaders. I think the last thing I would say is you got to be very good at what you do. And I just don't believe in entitlement. I don't believe that you should get something just because you fit a certain category. I think you should always aspired to get a job because you're the best candidate.
SABRINA: And with the technological change taking place in the global economy, what do you think female talent can do to stay relevant in the workplace?
JOJI: I actually don't think about that from a male/female perspective, I actually think if you're a professional, you've got to know what's happening in your profession, in your field, but also in the world. The world is changing I actually think technology's going to make it easier for individuals to be able to work across geographies, across the world. Maps are going to be really irrelevant. So I really think that you just got to know what's out there. You got to know what's changing in your own field, and you got to be able to see how you can drive your own efficiency. you own productivity by utilizing some other technologies.
SABRINA: Joji, as you know, women are significantly under-represented in the technology sector. In your opinion, how can we attract more females to be interested inS TEM?
JOJI: I think it's a combination of a few things. One I've talked a little bit about how
women candidates have to be very clear about what they want to do and have to be experts, but I think companies and organizations have to take very very conscious decisions, and be very intentional about making sure that they're providing the career ladders, they're providing the environment and there is openness to having more females. I've always believed that just doing events or talking a lot about it is not what's going to get us there. I think being very intentional, having this conversation at every level of the organization, including at the board level is very important because if we don't talk about it, it’s not going to happen, if we don't set targets for ourselves, it's not going to happen. I don't like the word “quotas”. I don’t like the word “targets”, but I've also seen if you don't put a number it's not going to happen.
SABRINA: I like what you said because not just being part of a conversation, that's important but we also need to be part of the solution, set a target to reach there. - Yeah. That's wonderful. And Joji, what are the benefits in developing a diverse workforce?
JOJI: The world is not just made up of men, right? The world is made up of men of different races, cultures, religions that are half of the population is female. As an employer, or as an inventor of products or services, you've got to think about, that you're addressing only half the population out of smaller percentage of the population when you're thinking only with one set of people, so the more diversity you have, you'll have diversity of thought, have diversity of ideas. So I just think it's a great business opportunity to be able to really leverage the potential of many different employees and individuals.
SABRINA: Yeah, definitely. You're right. And, what investment is your company making to be diversity ready?
JOJI: It's the first time I've worked with a company like Dupont, a science organization. Most of my background has been in technology. But I'm just very impressed with how intentional Dupont is about this dialogue. When I joined the company one of the things that attracted me about the company was that our CEO at the time in 2012 was a female, and she was homegrown. She was hired from GE 25 years ago. She was groomed very intentionally amongst many others. And she ran the company for many years. And it wasn't an easy time for her but I think being intentional,
I think we're very intentional about their dialogue. It's also the culture, your ability to deliver and manage your personal life. I always say that there are some things at home that only a wife thinks of and is able to do. And I think your company has to be able to give you that flexibility, to be able to function, and to be able to manage their workload, I think we do that, and we remind ourselves there's also a lot of focus on the development.
and having this kind of dialogue. We have many different forums where we hear our employees and what they want. And then we also strive very hard to make sure that we are delivering that development aspect. So the conversation happened at the board level, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) level, at the business level, and also at the regional level on what we're going to do differently, so we continuously talking about this in solutioning.
SABRINA: That's good to hear. And Joji,Half the Skyis a career platform for women. We connect females to better jobs with companies that care, so what do you think are the main challenges for companies to attract and retain female talent?
JOJI: I think we all have to be honest. There is an unconscious bias sometimes when we're thinking of talent. A lot of people think women can't travel as much because they have duties at home.
I travel more than 50% of my time. I have a young child, so I think we've got to constantly remind our managers, our employees, our leaders, even women managers, that we've got to be creative in terms of how we source female talent. We've got to be creative in terms of how we help them facilitate their productivity, how we enable them in an organization, right? And like I said, there is a lot of technology which enables you to work either from home, part-time, etc. Those are some of the things that companies have to very intentionally do.
SABRINA: Joji, out of my curiosity, you just mentioned, you have a young child, you travel 50% of the time and I'm sure the audience would love to know how do you handle that, when you travel, and you have a young child?
JOJI: You know, again, like I said about priorities. I have very few priorities in my life. One is my job and one is my family. I don't do much else. I have a few hobbies, I like to travel. I try to be home on the weekends. And when I'm home on the weekend I am very focused on my daughter and my husband. And I just think you just have to be very clear about where you want to spend your time and how you want to spend your time. I plan my work, in a way. I mentioned to you earlier, I work late nights, which is fine, but I'm always there for dinner when I'm home. I'm always there when my daughter is going to sleep. I'm sometimes not there because there is an urgent call, but there are a few times whenever I'm home, I make sure I'm very intentional. I use a lot of technology. irrespective of where I am in the world, I will always say "goodnight" to her. I will always say "good morning" to her. So you have to figure out ways to really stay connected. Since she was very young I've been very open with her. I gave her a calendar where I marked my travel dates and she would look forward to me being back. So she knew. So I just think you have to communicate with your child just in the way you would communicate with your employees. You manage her expectations as well, not just your employees. She's not happy sometimes when I get on the plane, but, you know, she understands.
SABRINA: She'll grow up and will be an amazing individual as well, definitely. And, Joji, in your opinion what are the 3 main skills people need to have for the future of work?
JOJI: Our world, our future is changing significantly, and one of the things we're gonna talk about is this whole conversation about A.I., right? You're seeing that everywhere, and
I think if you're an innovator, you have to think about design thinking and how do you bring creativity, ideas, kind of the social aspect, really, to figure out what products are going to come into the world. I'm also a big believer in systems thinking. Not many people do that, which is, how do you connect all the aspects when you are trying to solve a problem. So I think your ability to solve a problem and your ability to be able to understand the context is going to become very important.
There are generations of employees that only know this world that we live in today, and there is a generation of employees that are just becoming familiar. So I think to be able to understand the larger picture is very important. And I think the last thing I would say is your ability to connect the dots...there's so much information available. It's an overload of information and your ability to be able to sit back and be able to rationalize and think and connect the dots, it's going to be very, very critical.
SABRINA: Thank you for that. And last but not least, definitely a lot of our audience would like to know 3 essential career tips from you.
JOJI: Know what you want to do. Very important. Make sure you ask for it, right? And third, I would say have the support of your family. It's very important, especially as a female, whether you're married, not married, whether you have kids, don't have kids, you need support in your personal life to be able to do anything... make sure you have that.