When Gillian made her first foray into the video production industry 14 years ago, she was a young 23-year-old navigating a man’s world. “It took a while to earn the respect of my crew, especially since most of them were men older than me,” she says.

Today, the 37-year-old trailblazer is leading not just one, but two of Singapore’s most highly successful online video production companies. Here’s how the tenacious woman earned her way to the top:

Work from empathy.

“You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of those you work with, so that the working relationship isn’t one-sided. If you’re just delegating without understanding where others are coming from, it can cause miscommunication and unhappiness. It also means being able to keep an open mind. There is something to learn from everyone, whether they’re a newbie or a veteran.”

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(Gillian behind the camera at a gala event in Seoul. Photo courtesy of Gillian Tan.)

Communicate your vision clearly.

“First, you have to know what you want and then be clear in communicating it. Be aware of how others react when you’re talking, as it will help you understand if they’re confused or not. Keep asking questions to make sure you’re understood; just because it seems clear in your head doesn’t always mean it’s clear for others. And don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong.”

(Photo courtesy of Gillian Tan)

Learn how to separate your emotions.

“As a leader, you have to make difficult decisions that won’t please everyone, but you just have to make the call that is right and fair. Even if it’s not a popular decision, stick with it if it’s better for the company in the long run.”

Listen to voices that matter.

“Criticism from the public or from people I don’t know well doesn’t really bother me because most of the time it’s just noise. The kind of criticism that hits me the hardest is usually from those close to me or from people I respect. In cases like that, I’ll reflect and see how I can change to be better.”

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