Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics, on International Women’s Day: “Glass ceilings are man-made and that glass is easily broken.”

Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics

In Singapore, women represent only 30 per cent of the tech workforce, but we can do better. We pick the brains of Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics, on what it takes to succeed in a male-dominated industry, and why it’s imperative to trust our own instincts

Dear women in the workforce,

The secret to success is realising that success is not happiness. It is not a permanent state. Wholeness is, and you should not confuse the two. But the first step to achieving something is to know who you are early on, realising that you want to achieve something, then having the vision and perseverance to pursue it.

There are no shortcuts in life and hard work is nothing to be afraid of. All dues have to be paid eventually. It takes courage and a great will to keep putting one foot in front of the other every day and to keep moving forward with passion and drive. But those steps must be taken in order to achieve anything.

Trust your gut, for that has never lied. Never lie to yourself for success is not a good teacher. It does not teach humility, it does not teach courage, it does not teach perseverance. Realise that there is nothing wrong with failure. Fail often and fail fast. Challenges bring lessons that cannot be taught in textbooks, but do not dwell on failure. Pick yourself up off the floor quickly, for you do not belong down there.

Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics
“Pick yourself up. You don’t belong on the floor.”

Look at everything, every problem and every situation in its entirety and find the positives. There is always a way forward, even if it is to realise that ‘it’ ends there.

Never be afraid to ask for help, the worst that can happen is the other party saying ‘no’. The truth is that you are never too old to learn. The world is constantly changing and you are not the authority on knowledge. There will be others who know more than you and that is ok. Listen to the advice given, learn from the mistakes made and be discerning about who you surround yourself with, for not everyone is on your side. Realise who is in your corner, who is not and trust those who are willing to help. They deserve your gratitude, loyalty and commitment. Success is nothing without integrity.

Motivation is a mind game. It comes from within. No one but yourself can help you. Hold your heroes to a high standard and be your own hero. If you look at male-dominated industries as a barrier to women, what you see are the obstacles. But if you look at it as simply having a lot of men and not enough women, you will see the opportunities. Realise that glass ceilings are man-made and that glass is easily broken. The difference between men and women is that there is none. Equality should be a standard and not a luxury that we strive for.

And if all else fails, remember your worth, stand up and straighten your crown!