Liyana Fauzi

“I am a Senior Product Manager where I work on initiatives like the Singapore Government Tech Stack and Government Commercial Cloud. My career in tech has enabled me to shape and impact the daily lives of Singaporeans. I launched Singapore’s first Open Data Portal, helped create the first Smart City Index and developed Singapore’s first Digital Government Blueprint – a national master plan that outlines the strategy for digital products that impact people living and working in Singapore.

I am also a volunteer with The Codette Project, where I created Singapore’s first-ever women-only hackathon. The hackathon challenged participants to address issues inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and saw participation by women of all ages and all backgrounds, including students and stay-at-home mothers.

Recently, I graduated with a Technology MBA from NYU Stern, during which I served as a consultant to Shutterstock and organised a start-up panel for the Singaporean community in New York. As part of my MBA, I specialised in Tech Product Management, Strategy and Ops Management.”

#CandidWithCodette

An ideal vacation would be:
Somewhere scenic and peaceful. Up in the cold mountainous areas with views for days.

The best food in New York is:
Piping hot fresh cheese pizza! Or khachapuri (which is technically Georgian cheese bread which I was introduced to in New York. So good!)

What are the 3 underrated qualities in women leaders? 
Most women have a gentle side to them – it’s underrated because a lot of people see this as a sign of weakness. I have seen this trait, being put to good use, especially in working with very stubborn individuals who would otherwise, not listen to anyone who faces them aggressively.

Two other underrated traits are perseverance, and the ability to be comfortable with failure. 

Which is the worst pet peeve for you? 
I am uncomfortable with unauthentic behaviour when someone pretends to be something they are not, or when I can sense that they are not being sincere. 

One of the most memorable experiences in your life: 
I visited Montego Bay in Jamaica last year, and loved the beautiful beaches and waterfalls. I ended up doing a cliff jump even though I am a terrible swimmer (life jackets ftw!). It was an amazing experience. 

Most unexpected situation you got yourself into: 
I spent a year in NYC doing my master’s. It was an unexpected situation for me as I never really thought about studying overseas until given the opportunity. I was nervous of course, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions.

Who is a feminist icon that you admire?
I admire Michelle Obama. I think she has a lot of poise and charm, but at the same time, is firm and kind. I think she’s used her position well to enhance the status of women.

What book or film has inspired your views on feminism?
This is going to sound really strange, but one of my favourite childhood books was the Ramona series written by Beverly Cleary. Ramona is basically this incredibly gutsy little girl who gets herself in all sorts of trouble. Ramona is not afraid to speak her mind and she lets her imagination run wild. Her gender doesn’t hold her back, and she always stands up to fight injustice, even if it’s what might seem like a small thing to an adult, like an unfairness on the playground. I was really shy growing up, so Ramona inspires me to have a little spunk.

A common misunderstanding about minority/Muslim women: 
We are only good at domestic and administrative tasks.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from the woman who raised you? 
My mother taught for more than 30 years before she retired. Seeing her manage her work and family life taught me how to have a good work ethic (i.e. prepare early, prepare well), and how to be firm yet kind to get things done. 

Something you would love to tell an aspiring young female of today: 
In today’s world, it will be very easy to tie your successes or failures to your gender. Don’t let anyone use your gender as a way to hold you back, and more importantly, don’t let yourself hold you back. As a first step, make sure you hone your craft. Be good at what you do and nobody can take that away from you. And while you are honing your craft, seek out support systems and communities – these could be anyone – fellow female friends in the industry, or male allies. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need – you will be surprised at the outcome.