Narita’s Story

Narita Hang Chuon / 8 min read

How the ASEAN Leaders Programme helped Narita to leverage Cultural Intelligence to lead in the workplace and community.

Narita Hang Chuon first heard about Common Purpose from a friend who joined the ASEAN Young Leaders Programme back in 2003. Thirteen years on, her friend’s Common Purpose experience is still as relevant as ever and gave Narita more than enough reason to join the ASEAN Leaders Programme in 2016.

As the Head of Local Corporates for ANZ Royal Bank, Narita constantly works with numerous corporate clients and internal stakeholders that come from diverse backgrounds and different cultures.

Providing homes for lower income households

At Notting Hill Genesis, I work in the social and economic regeneration team, where we work with local communities to help them reach their aims and goals in life. Our team is responsible for carrying out a 30-year regeneration scheme that is deeply embedded in the community. We have a lot of competing priorities, opposing pressures and a very diverse group of stakeholders, each of them having different priorities they’re trying to achieve.

In my role, I have to be very mindful in making decisions and considering how those decisions affect the different stakeholders and their goals.

Building deep networks in the community

For the community I work with, I can’t just go to a community and offer solutions and projects straight away. In order to help and empower residents, I have to look deeper into the residents’ lives to gain a deep understanding of their needs. Once I do this, I realize that they're not just concerned about keeping their job or what they’re going to eat that day – they're also concerned about the leaking roof or the fact that they may not be able to pay their bills this month. It’s a multitude of issues that each resident faces.

If I have a better understanding of residents’ lives and their challenges, it enables me to offer effective solutions to help them achieve their goals. In the end, this creates a more meaningful partnership between the community and our organization.

"Before joining the programme, I faced some challenges in dealing with people from different background and often faced a clash of priority with some stakeholders. With all these challenges I faced, I almost quit my work place."

Seeing how it all fits together

Within the organization, I recognize that I’m not an expert in all fields. I’ve only been in the housing sector for three years. However in those years, I’ve been part of three different teams and worked closely with others with different specialisms.

I find that working across teams allows me to see how each piece of the puzzle fits together. It enriches my knowledge, gives me more confidence in speaking about things I may not be an expert in and enables me to collaborate and communicate with colleagues better.

Becoming a subscriber of change

When presented with challenges, I try to have an open way of thinking and become a subscriber of change. This encourages me to look at the positive and look for opportunities instead of focusing on the negative. I think that having this approach leaves you a little bit more open, a little bit more resilient.

The Common Purpose programme instilled in me the importance of broadening your network, although admittedly it has taken some years to truly understand this. Even now I continue to still work on that. It’s all a learning process!

Essentially, collaborating and networking with different people expands your horizons and enriches your learning. This improves your ability to lead beyond your authority. That’s priceless and I was first exposed to that through Common Purpose.

"After I attended the ASEAN Leaders Programme, I learned a new concept - Cultural Intelligence (CQ). I used CQ by first trying to understand the culture of stakeholders that I deal with. Only by understanding and listening would I then be able to apply the right strategy at the right time. I realized that by putting myself in other people shoes, helping them to understand about me, my culture and my expectation while also understanding their culture and expectation was the key in crossing boundaries."

Leading beyond the Workplace

The programme also helped to inspire Narita to use her knowledge and networks to help others within her community. Narita doesn't just challenge herself professionally, in her spare time she is a passionate advocate for women and is the instigator of a series of local projects providing education and opportunity for those girls who may not otherwise have reached their full potential.

Narita was recently elected as one of the board members of CWEA – Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association. CWEA supports women-owned businesses in Cambodia and empowers them to make a meaningful impact on the economic development of Cambodia. In this role, Narita will continue to lead and inspire the next set of leaders and help Phnom Penh become an inclusive city.

For Narita, her biggest takeaway from the ASEAN Leaders Programme was how Cultural Intelligence can help to drive success in a leadership position such as hers where every day she faces diversity and differences in culture – whether that’s with work, priorities, language or background.

Narita Hang Chuon is Head Of Corporate Banking for J Trust Royal Bank.
She took part in the ASEAN Young Leaders Programme, in 2016.

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