This is a single part of a series of stories of 21 women leaders of Cambodia. Download the full publication here.
Give a short introduction about your life (family, education, marital status) and how has your experience been as a leader and what achievements are you most proud of?
My name is Tang Gech Lieng. I’m 37 years old and I am on the Board of Directors of H&L Group Co. Ltd. I am so lucky to have been born into a wealthy family with parents who were business people, where I had an opportunity to manage the company since the age of 17. For the sake of my parents’ business, I decided to quit my studies in grade 7 and started managing their business.
We learned and implemented at the same time; made mistakes, and corrected them.
When you first started out with your career, what were your most significant challenges?
I was a brave and friendly girl, someone who liked to improve myself and things around me, dared to take risks and use highly creative ideas so I could use these talents to help make my family’s business, TANG PHENG POR Company, grow both goodwill and product branding and expand to have many branches across the city and provinces as a result during the period 2000-2005.
After I married my husband, whose favorite business is in property, we started investing in properties. We have been very successful in this business since 2006; as friends and others have acknowledged us for our achievements. In 2008, there was a world economic crisis as we all know; however, luckily we saw this downturn coming and sold we most of our land and properties in areas far away and in the provinces and used the proceeds to buy land and properties in the city. That protected us from most of the crisis. However, we did suffer some challenges. But, we both tried to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and we solved the problems together. Fortunately, there was a clear blue sky after the storm and we were able to overcome those tough times and together we continued our business.
More importantly, we did not waste time during our hard times; in contrast, we spent it on both local and overseas training, to gain more knowledge and experience. We also founded more companies, which in turn, increased our income. We learned valuable lessons and implemented change at the same time; made mistakes, and corrected them.
We faced challenges, and we solved them. We always support each other, inspire each other, understand one another, learn from each other, and always find more opportunities to catch up and grow together.
Over the years, what valuable lessons have you learned as a leader?
We have learned a lot from everything we have done and from the people around us. Because we are leaders, we commit to being role models.
In the whole family, my husband and I are fully committed to being the “Example Couple”. In society, I commit to being a good example as a mother, friend and a good woman. This includes the way I wear my clothes, my attitude, my words in communication, as well as my respect towards people. I always learn good things from others and try to do better myself. Being a role model inspires me to love people unconditionally, not only those people around me but to all people in general.
What are your core values and how do you ensure your team is aligned with your values?
Being humble, soft, friendly, respectful, valuing people and sharing, are all the qualities that make people recognize me, love me, and respect me from their heart.
What are some of the behaviors or traits that you think are negatively impacting leadership?
Here are negative traits to avoid:
- Too demanding
- Too bossy
- Blame others for unexpected results
- No clear guidance or instruction
- Not giving enough value
- Not giving opportunities
- No inspiration
- No appreciation of others
- Not being open to new ideas
These will not make you a good leader, but will negatively impact your leadership ability. You will not be able to grow yourself or the people around you!
What we should do:
- Don’t correct others, correct yourself.
- Stop demanding.
- Don’t look for others’ mistakes.
- Patience, forgiveness, and giving people chances are the good qualities of a leader.
- Moreover, there is always one sentence in my head which I always tell and remind myself of: “Their destiny is in my hands, so what can I do for them?” This question really inspires me to do more!
What are you doing to continue to excel as a leader (leadership tips in doing business and promoting women’s economic empowerment or gender equality)?
Leadership is not only for men; women leaders are needed, everywhere.
- In a family, she is a mother who takes good care of the children, leads them by example, teaches them, gives them advice and many more tasks which all mothers cannot avoid.
- In a company, she plays an important role in coordinating tasks from all sides through thick and thin, and is also a positive force toward progression. Maybe women are more patient than men?
- In society, only women can understand women, inspiring them, taking care of each other, sharing with each other, and learning from each other… It is what we always do.
What are some of the biggest risks you’ve taken in your career and how did they turn out?
Trusting people too much created a very big loss during the years 2007 – 2010. At that time, my husband and I helped each other to solve the problems one by one, solve them with understanding, and create ‘win-win’ solutions. We have never wanted others’ property. We were willing to suffer a loss and treat it as a lesson learned. We operated on the principle “Lose to Win”. We didn’t create any arguments or fight back.
By our own principles we aim to keep a good bond among friends and relatives. We today have and make more friends as well as have good relationships among them.
What advice do you have for young Cambodian female entrepreneurs?
- Women are a force that family and society cannot do without.
- Everyone has his or her own inner leadership. Some may be less interested and are more dependent on others. That’s why they may not have the chance to use their inner strengthen and develop it.
- Be independent.
- Dare to do what others can do.
- Learn to manage people. The more you manage people, the more responsible you are and the more cautious you are. Then your leadership will improve too.
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
- Dare to make decisions. But before you make them, you have to analyze things from every corner.
- Before blaming others, learn how to ask first.
- Lead yourself first, before you lead others.
© Copyright 2019
This is a joint publication by Woomentum and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Download the full publication here.