Leading by empowering for a better workplace and society

Updated: Mar 11

INTERVIEW: In a pandemic-stricken world, the first thing the community needs is a leader that empowers an organisation to give back. Here, Aileen Tan of AIA Singapore shares the collective effort of the company to better peoples’ lives — both inside the organisation and across the wider community.

Aileen Tan, Chief HR Officer of AIA Singapore (centre) / NOTE: The photo was taken pre-pandemic.

COS Asia: Please describe your most impactful corporate social responsibility programme.

Tan: Our strategy and mandate to enable healthier, longer, better lives for everyone, including our people, is rooted in AIA’s business practices. We have moved away from the traditional transaction-focused insurance model to become a trusted partner for every life stage.

In 2021, to fulfil our brand promise and celebrate 90 years in Singapore, we launched the AIA Green Pledge and the AIA Better Lives Fund. The Green Pledger speaks of our environmental, social, and governance ambitions while supporting the creation of green environments for healthier, more active living in Singapore.

The Better Lives Fund is an initiative for disadvantaged children, youth, and their families, that aims to give them greater access and opportunities in education, growth and development. AIA Singapore has also committed SGD 5 million to the Garden City Fund for Singapore’s parks and nature reserves over the next five years. AIA’s contribution to the OneMillionTrees movement and the Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Tree programme is the largest by any private organisation.

COS Asia: It takes a good leader to ensure the success of these kinds of activities. What’s your management style?

Tan: I aim to manage with empowerment and fairness. I tend to take on more than I can handle. I have been making a conscious effort to now get out of my team’s way once we have decided on a course of action so that the team will have room to grow. I learned that “more” can sometimes be “less”, and I try to do things with more impact.

COS Asia: If you were to look back, what was that one stumbling block that has impacted you as a leader?

Tan: Not recognising the usefulness of mistakes. I started work in a different era for multinational corporations, one that emphasised execution at all costs. So, I made mistakes without spending enough time reflecting on avoiding them. Instead, I moved on and got cracking at my next task. Now, I recognise the importance of reflecting and learning from both the successes and the setbacks.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's exclusive interview with Aileen Tan, AIA Singapore’s chief HR officer. For further coverage please see any of the below links:

The lens of optimism in a pandemic-fatigued workforce

Aileen Tan: AIA’s longevity and productivity secrets

Leading by empowering for a better workplace and society

Getting to know: Aileen Tan, Chief HR Officer, AIA Singapore

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