As part of our Leading Women series, we want to highlight the professional challenges and career aspirations of the women we work with here in Asia.  

In this feature, Suzanna Smith, Global Sourcing Director at Tom Tailor, shares what it means to be a leader in today's fast-paced apparel industry and how one fateful decision landed her a role in Indonesia with a company she never heard of before. It turned out to be one of her best career decisions yet. 

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Q: What are some lessons or stories that are unique to you being a female leader? 

In my view, women tend to not ask for things that are important to them; women also question whether they deserve a promotion. Women generally don’t complain about pay inadequacy. Although women seem to work very hard and drive for results, it’s assumed that this will gain them the recognition and compensation they deserve. It doesn’t always work out that way, especially if they don’t ask for it. 
 
It’s my personal goal to help young women through these issues, as I’ve had to go through them myself. For example, when I was promoted to Senior Director at Gap, I didn’t expect this or understand how I got there. I’ve learned now as a leader what it means to be assertive, to ask questions, ask for support and insist on clarity on how to get ahead.  
 
Is this a question for women leaders or all leaders? I feel it is both. In my view, companies don’t put enough focus on communicating what the expectations are and set a clear path for each person, man or woman, in terms of how can we all be successful.
 

This is an abridged version of the full interview with Suzanna Smith. For the full version of the interview, click here.

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