Leadership, Advice, Diversity & Inclusion

My advice on being ‘literate’ in the 21st Century - Diana Chen

Published 15 Jul 2020 by SANDRA AU


Diana’s road to success was painted with determination and discipline - and there can be no substitute for her hard work.

Over the 23 years at Singtel, she has managed to capture the essence of leadership and conquer the steep challenge of attaining well-rounded skills sets. While a superstar at work, she is also a supermom at home which she deems as a personal milestone. Her intrinsically driven nature inclines her team and peers to forge ahead.

When she is not busy directing the Business Segment Team in her close-to-packed calendars, she claims the time she has to detox her mind by doing some slow yoga or plugging in her ear pods to silence the chaos of the world. 

A Day in The Life of Diana

Diana’s role is to head up the Business Segment team which is focused on leading and growing the Singapore SME business market in the areas of Mobile & Fixed connectivity, ICT - Cyber, Cloud, SaaS & IOT services.

In a typical day, she is engrossed in meetings and engages with the practical discussions with stakeholders, including her team, senior management, customers, partners and government agencies.

She enjoys the camaraderie with the team, the opportunity to coach them and help them become better. She provides the team with a window of opportunity to learn, to grow in responsibilities and contribute.

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step’

Diana has picked up a sea of skills at Singtel and that has overall contributed to her spirit and growth.

‘’I’ve been very fortunate that the company has given me opportunities to learn and grow in responsibilities and be recognised for my achievements. I’ve been guided by my appetite to explore and contribute where I’m needed and valued.’’

There are two main valuable skills that she has mastered during this time: learnability and resilience.

‘’Learnability is the most important 21st century skill one will need to succeed. The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can’t read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn & relearn,’’ she opines.

She shares that in an environment where new skills emerge as fast as others fade, success is less about what one already knows and more about adapting one’s skills by expanding our knowledge base.

Second comes resilience — how one chooses to deal with roadblocks is what is critical to success. To Diana, resilience is not endurance, but the ability to bounce back when faced with obstacles. 

‘’When we are resilient, we don’t focus on the ups and downs, but stay focused on long term goals and not losing confidence in the ability to prevail. ‘’

‘’Resilience also enables us to handle stress more positively,’’ she illuminates. 

Her modern-day hero

Diana takes it personal by sharing with us about her modern day hero; her late mother.

Her mother taught her the important values and beliefs that have moulded her into the woman she is today, and that includes belief, compassion and authenticity.

Firstly, the magic of belief; the will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.  ‘’Our ability and desire to do things is born in our knowledge that we can do things. Without belief, we don’t take action.’’

They say a little compassion goes a long way. Diana shares that her mum is ‘’the most compassionate, thoughtful and kind person she has known’’. She loved helping people and making sacrifices because it was the right thing to do.

Last but not least, she taught Diana to be authentic. ‘’She encouraged me to be myself and be comfortable with that’’.

These set of values she has to her name is what drove her to become a leading light. With a great deal of passion for marketing alongside her compassionate nature, she won the Marketer of The Year in 2017.

Some of her key achievements in Singtel include fighting the competition when full number portability was introduced, transforming our Singtel shops which involved a redesign of workflows and retail experience, and introducing services which appealed to customers (e.g., Data Free Spotify & Ready Roam) which brought great excitement to and rejuvenated the Singtel brand.

Diana’s willingness to put herself out there and be susceptible to challenges is truly remarkable. As a leader, she encourages that being ‘literate’ is one of the most important things to be pursued so that one would not be crushed by a flurry of can’ts, won’ts and impossibilities as they ascend the career ladder

Related Articles