Stephanie Yap Simonnet was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Cambodia in February 2020. She has been with Prudential for more than 18 years with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. Prior to her current appointment, she was the Chief New Distribution Solution Officer for the region leading the successful expansion of strategic partnership with Digital Players with rich databases and broad and deep data points. Before this, Stef was Chief Partnerships Distribution Officer – Prudential Singapore for 4 years, delivering double digit business growth and spearheading the launch of a Start-up platform called Fast Track Trade – a blockchain platform that facilitates the trade among small SMEs to support financial inclusion. Business strategies, partnerships expansion, digital platforms, innovations are her forte. Stef holds a dual degree in Applied Linguistics (French, English, German, Japanese) & International Trade from the University Toulouse II and undertook various courses in insurance from the Singapore College of Insurance, Singapore. She is married and has a 14-year-old son.
Thanks Stephanie for joining us today!
Tell us more about your career journey and what drove you to move countries?
This is where it is important for us executives when ourself in the role to accept that there are ways to work with our staff that do not have to be 9 to 5 onsite - as an example I had my head of Governance based in Brunei and working remotely who came to office only once a month.
So when the Cambodia CEO role came about I told them that I would commute weekly Monday to Fridays (2 hours plan ride) So I can be on site but also be able to see my family on week ends. They had no hesitation honestly. But I put it forward to them and not expected them to propose.
Now that helps but does not change the fact that I run 2 lives and end up alone while week in a brand new under developed country.
But becoming CEO was such an achievement that my family and I were ready to make some sacrifices.
However as you now know, with Covid 19 and the quarantine constrains and borders closed , my commuting arrangements became impossible and I refused to move to Cambodia living my family behind as I would not be able to return freely and the hospital / health services conditions in Cambodia are not sufficient in case of major accident and illnesses for me.
For mums , starting by taking regional jobs requiring regular travels, may help progress to “ the next level” as the kids gets used to new ways. The technology allows us to communicate in way not possible in the pass and therefore not loose touch.
I would totally do it again.
What are some of your challenges/ experiences of glass ceiling you faced and how did you manoeuvre your way around it?
When I stagnated, I went to ask for the role, listened to the feedback I received and worked on it and went to ask again.
What are you most excited about in the industry?
Insurance does good and combined with health can really add value to anyone.
What are you doing in the D&I space?
I helped other females of all ages working around me to push . I often see resignation in that they give up. You cannot give up If you want it, the surrounding is not going to come and pick you up.
How do you make sure you have a good balance of home and work life, especially during COVID-19?
Fix start and end time and be diligent. Allocate workout times too and meals with family.
What's next for your career?
Strategic planning to where I could add most value, listen more to the company pain points and see where I could contribute. Continue to speak business.
To connect further with Stephanie just download ElevatHer and have a chat to her through the platform.