Women in business

Interview with Andrea Lorenz, Richard Wolf Singapore

We talked to Andrea Lorenz her about her life and career in Hong Kong and Singapore, and got some good insights on career opportunities for women.

Andrea Lorenz is looking back to more than 15 years of business experience in Asia. We talked to the General Manager Operations and Administration Greater China and Southeast Asia at Richard Wolf Singapore about Hong Kong and Singapore, her definiton of being a successful leader (spoiler alert: be the boss you want to have!), and got some useful insights on women in business in the region. An interview from our #peopleinournetwork series.

Dear Andrea, let’s start our interview with a current topic! Recently, the board of the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK Singapore) was newly elected – and you are one of four women. What does that mean for you?

I am happy that SGC (AHK Singapore) managed to get four women in business on the board, and especially that one of us, Ms Shirley Qi from Evonik, has been elected its first female president. With a total of four women on the 12-member board, the Singaporean Chamber has a very good quota compared to other chambers – thanks to the commitment of the chamber and its members themselves.

Women in business is a topic that moves you from the very beginning. How would you describe the career situation for women in Singapore?

In Singapore, there are comparably many women in leading positions and meanwhile, a big part of Singapore’s richest people under 35 are female. But there is always room for improvement! It is still important to make women more visible and support them, for example through our Women in Business Committee. Another initiative is “Damenwahl”, set up by Tanja Jesemann of Paulaner Singapore which is a regular networking event for German-speaking women from all backgrounds.

Finding a job has become a big issue for expat spouses. At this time, the Singapore government sucessively raises the bar and changes the requirements to hire foreign workforce. I have met many women who would like to work, but just do not get a work permit. We support them in getting started in the first place even if that means that you need to work under less comfortable working conditions than what you were used to in Germany. Our experience shows that once you have a first job and a work permit, it often works out with a subsequent job that better suits your needs.

You are leading a very diverse team in different countries and locations at Richard Wolf. What does being a successful leader imply for you?

First and foremost, it’s about collective success, because I could not have achieved much without my team! So, when I started at Richard Wolf, I imagined what my “ideal boss” would be like – and tried to follow this idea. In my opinion, success is more a quality than a quantity. That is to say that me and my team with many longstanding and loyal employees have achieved a lot in the last few years. We are proud that our efforts are being recognized, which gives us a lot of motivation for the future.

In terms of working abroad, I am proud of what I have achieved and I probably would not have come so far in my career in Germany. Why am I saying that? Without a doubt, it took a bit of luck. But especially for German companies, there are not many suitable applicants for certain positions and the competition abroad is simply less. But if you are planning to stay for longer, then both sides can agree on reliable and long-term commitments.

After 14 years in Hong Kong, you have been living in Singapore now for almost three years. What fascinates you about Singapore?

All things considered, I really like the cultural mix in Singapore! In Hong Kong, a lot has changed in recent years, and as a foreigner, you are now a bit of an exotic. Here in Singapore, it is just natural that people have their roots in many different countries. Above all, English is the first and an official language, so consequently communication is very easy. In addition to that, the food is as colourful as the people here. You just go to the “Hawker Centre” (i.e. local food court) and enjoy an incredible variety of food for little money. I moved to Singapore with my husband two and a half years ago. We have not regretted it for a single minute.

What can we in Germany and Europe learn from Asia and vice versa?

That is a very interesting question. I would like to mention three aspects:

First, the desire and fun to learn, especially here in Singapore. Even after completing their training or studies, employees are constantly continuing their education. These efforts are often sponsored by the government, which provides additional motivation. In this fast-changing world, I think it is wonderful that people really want to keep at it.

Second, that my employees do their jobs quickly and efficiently, whether in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing or Singapore. There are not many discussions, I always notice that when I’m back in Germany.

And finally, I like the way my teams tackle their tasks and stay on track. Be it as it may, whether it’s a new task or a problem, they take care of it and find a solution.

What Asians can learn from us Germans? I would be happy if they were sometimes a little more decisive and less afraid to make a mistake. Making mistakes is part of life, and you always learn from it. My message to my team: Don’t be afraid, just try it out.

Above all, this is where our topic “women in business” comes in again, because I would definitely like to add what Germans can learn from Singaporeans: Working mothers in management positions are the norm here. A woman with three small children who manages the business for the entire region is not a big thing here at all. It’s left to the families to organize it for themselves. Certainly, there are other aids here that do not exist in Germany. However, I have the impression that a mother will not even be considered for such a position in the first place. In Germany it is often assumed that she will not be able to travel or work full time.

About Andrea Lorenz

Andrea Lorenz fell in love with the region in 2006, when she and her husband moved to Hong Kong. The qualified logistics manager worked in different positions abroad, for example as Assistant to the CEO at Otto International. 2013 marks the beginning of her employment with Richard Wolf. The company is undoubtedly one of the leading manufacturers of products and systems for endoscopy and extracorporeal shock wave treatment. In Hong Kong, the company had established the first subsidiary in the Greater China region, having previously set up offices in Japan, India and Dubai. In the following seven years, Andrea Lorenz continued to drive the company’s expansion, establishing the offices in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai and then Beijing, which she still manages today.

Richard Wolf Singapore has been located in the German Centre for six years. What services would you not want to do without under any circumstances?

The great networking events in the first place! I love networking here at German Centre Singapore. They are a great opportunity for those who are new here in Singapore. They can meet new people, make contacts and exchange ideas – not only between women in business. That’s a big plus.

And of course, the offices are very modern and beautiful, and people like to come here to work.

Finally, our classic: What is your favorite place in Singapore?

Undoubtedly the Botanic Gardens! Even though I’ve been there so many times, I love it!