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Celebrating International Women’s Day: Breaking Barriers, Building Futures with Women Leaders at Dezan Shira & Associates

On March 8, Dezan Shira & Associates proudly commemorates International Women’s Day by celebrating the remarkable achievements of the women in our firm. This year, we honor Jennifer Lu, Allan Xu, and Jenny Liao, as they rise to become partners within the company. Their journey serves as an inspiration, not only within the firm but also in the industry, demonstrating the power of talent, perseverance, and dedication.

In a candid Q&A session, we had the privilege of gaining invaluable insights from our female partners about their experiences and perspectives as they embark on this new chapter at the forefront of our firm.

Can you share a pivotal moment or accomplishment from your journey that you believe contributed to your success in achieving this role – and how it impacted your success? 

Jennifer Lu, Partner, Hong Kong office:

Reflecting on my journey, it was during my early years that I discovered the power of building a support network. Success isn’t a solo journey. I surrounded myself with mentors, workmates, business partners and a supportive community. Collaborating, sharing knowledge, and seeking feedback were instrumental. Their insights challenged me, broadened my perspective, and accelerated my growth. My commitment to lifelong learning, resilience and collaboration will continue to guide me as I embrace new challenges and contribute to my current role.

Jennifer Lu (Center), Partner, Hong Kong Office, with Hong Kong team

As a woman in the senior leadership team of the company, how do you envision leveraging your position as a partner to further promote female inclusion within the firm and the industry  

Allan Xu, Partner – Business Advisory Services, Shanghai Office:

I will cultivate a culture that emphasizes equality, respect, and inclusivity. As a leader in the firm, I am at the forefront of this cultural shift. I would like to further enhance the environment in the firm to ensure employees have equal opportunities for advancement and career growth through training and career development plans, combined with establishing social and professional networks that support the development of women in the company. Periodic internal and external female success stories will inspire more women to pursue leadership positions.

Allan Xu, Partner – Business Advisory Services, Shanghai Office

Looking back on your career, what lessons have you learned that you believe are crucial for aspiring female professionals to know?

Jenny Liao, Partner – Corporate Accounting Services, Shanghai Office:

Commonly, female professionals often face more stress and difficulties in their jobs. The goal is to become a valuable employee of the company while achieving a work-life balance at the same time. Try to gain relevant experience as much as possible. Learn continuously by attending workshops, taking courses, or pursuing certifications that can enhance knowledge and build confidence. Being able to effectively communicate and staying calm in difficult situations will relieve the stress from work. Once you have confidence in your work and the industry, you will go further in your career.

Jenny Liao, Partner – Corporate Accounting Services, Shanghai Office

What advice would you give to other aspiring female colleagues within the firm and globally who aim to reach leadership positions?

Jennifer Lu

The journey to leadership is both challenging and rewarding. Believe in yourself, stay committed, and embrace the challenges.  Even when progress seems slow, stay committed to your goals, as small, consistent efforts add up over time.

Allan Xu

You need to know yourself: understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, and aspirations. Self-awareness forms the foundation for effective leadership. Don’t give up any opportunities, be proactive in seeking out opportunities for growth, advancement, and leadership roles. Don’t hesitate to voice your aspirations and take on new challenges. Lastly, be open to feedback. Welcome feedback as a tool for growth and improvement. Actively seek feedback from colleagues, subordinates, and peers, and be willing to reflect on areas where leaders can enhance their leadership skills. I believe female leaders have special skill sets they can leverage to the advantage of the team to make communication enjoyable and efficient.  

Jenny Liao

Effective time management and empowerment are the keys to becoming a leader. To acquire these skills, you should keep a few things in mind. Firstly, keep enhancing management skills in current work before becoming a leader.  Next, constantly keep yourself updated with new knowledge. Adapting to changes is important.  Be willing to share knowledge and experience with your colleagues and take responsibility for the result. Accept mistakes made by your team and be capable of controlling the risk.  Finally, always be patient and calm in your daily work and life so that you can maintain objectivity all the time, identify problems accurately, and figure out solutions effectively.

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