Anne Lochoff is the Strategic Advisor at World Vision, in this role she acts as an advisor to Asia P3 Hub, a cross-sector platform that works with corporates, start-ups, government and non-profit organisations to build strategic, mutually-beneficial partnerships to address humanitarian challenges.
As an accomplished female leader who has worked at global advertising agencies, what traits do you think are necessary for success?
In the creative sector, skills such as intuition (trends), empathy (insights), emotional intelligence (consumer understanding) and planning (strategy) are established as traits of an accomplished leader who manages the creation of ideas.
With that in mind, how do these traits influence your management style or hiring decisions?
The traits mentioned are key to any innovation process I have realised how valuable they are when applied to other industries requiring a fresh perspective on their approach to business. We often focus on the hard skills (knowledge of process) when hiring innovative leaders. In my experience the soft skills or emotional intelligence of a leader is just as important to consider in the recruitment process.
What advice would you give to business leaders who want to promote diversity through talent attraction and development?
It is important to create a corporate culture that sees diverse ways of thinking as a valuable tool for innovation. Innovation comes from looking at an old problem in a completely new way, which creates growth, solutions and sustainability. At Asia P3 Hub, we use the term “combinatorial innovation”, meaning the idea of combining existing elements together in new and innovative ways.
Another thing would be identifying where we lose female talents within the leadership pipeline and work with them to decrease the risk. We often hear about women holding board positions, but rarely about how one can get there. Therefore, how do we know that business leaders are detailing the steps required and that equal opportunities are given to all genders in progressing through the board leadership pipeline?
According to your observations, what can the society do to better empower females to thrive?
Value the contribution of women. Sometimes it helps to put it into numbers so valuing their contributions to the world economy would be a start. According to IMF publications, “our new estimates show that, for the bottom half of countries in our sample in terms of gender inequality, closing the gender gap in employment could increase GDP by an average of 35 percent—of which 7–8 percentage points are productivity gains due to gender diversity. Adding one more woman in a firm’s senior management or corporate board—while keeping the size of the board unchanged—is associated with an 8–13 basis point higher return on assets.”
How has your experience as a mentor in supporting women entrepreneurs been?
I believe mentoring should be a learning experience for both the mentor and the mentee. As a mentor, I have learnt a lot from my mentees and have found inspiration in their resilience, empathy, ingenuity and courage. Mentoring has also given me valuable insights into start-ups, cross-cultural considerations, business models and innovation processes that I can constantly apply to my way of working.
What are your thoughts on the use of technology in terms of gender diversity/balance?
People programme technology and are teaching it how to think. For technology to be beneficial, we will have to ensure that the unconscious bias people might have isn’t programmed into it. Equally for it to value and respect the contribution of women and men equally, that way it can be leveraged to build a corporate culture that better embraces diversity.