IWD2021: Jenny Yeung: It’s Important to Turn Dialogue and Good Intentions into Action that Actually Moves the Needle

At Intelex, we celebrate diversity and the accomplishments of womxn every day, and during the month of March, we are profiling employees, partners and customers as a way to celebrate IWD2021.

The theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 is: “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.”

Jenny Yeung, SVP of Finance at Intelex Technologies, is #choosingtochallenge by asserting herself, challenging the status quo, and advocating for the quieter individuals who tend to be overlooked. Creating diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important to Jenny and everyone at Intelex.

What is your name, title, and company?

My name is Jenny Yeung, and I’m the SVP of Finance at Intelex. I lead an awesome Finance team that is responsible for planning and budgeting, reporting, taxes, accounts payable, accounts receivable, treasury, and internal controls. We partner with all the departments across Intelex to manage customer contracts, operating spend, working capital, and hiring plans. We also provide information to help leaders analyze their results, make decisions, and track performance through modelling and KPI metrics.

How did you become in involved with EHSQ and/or technology?

I joined Intelex in November 2015 as Controller, mainly due to my experience with private equity-owned companies, specifically with their scaling, merger and acquisition transactions, and eventual sale. I had just wrapped up the sale of my previous company, Granite Global Solutions, and graduated from the part-time MBA program at the University of Toronto, which were both intense and incredible experiences, and I was looking for something similarly challenging.

Intelex had just been acquired by JMI Equity at the time, so I was excited by the prospect of building out a Finance team within a rapidly growing company, with the understanding that sometime over the next 5 years, we would see a major exit event by way of a change of ownership or perhaps even an IPO.

I didn’t have any experience with EHSQ or the technology industry, but I’ve come to appreciate the value that our software brings to improving work environments, enhancing product quality, and keeping people safe.

What were your greatest challenges – personally or professionally – in 2020? What did you learn from 2020 that you brought with you into 2021?

I took over the leadership of the Finance team in 2020 and expanded my portfolio significantly, while also serving as co-chair to the Intelex Visible Minorities and Fortive Asian employee resource groups (ERGs). My challenge was figuring out how to manage the workload, build new skills, and live up to these responsibilities. I learned to delegate more than ever to other members of the Finance team, and it’s been a real pleasure to see everyone grow, raise their profile across the company, and flourish.

2020 was a hugely eventful year for diversity and inclusion work. The challenge that I, the other ERG chairs, and the HR team faced was figuring out how to create a safe space for uncomfortable conversations to take place and how to turn all that dialogue and all those good intentions into action that actually moved the needle. I learned a lot from listening to colleagues sharing their experiences with racism and prejudice, from our training sessions, and from researching on my own. While we made some progress here, we have a lot more work ahead of us.

In your career, what have you decided to #ChooseToChallenge?

In every role I’ve held, I have worked with predominantly white, predominantly male senior leadership teams that tend to be quite extroverted, and that holds true at Intelex as well. As an introverted Asian woman, I see the world a little differently. I carry myself and move through the world in a slightly different way. I haven’t always been comfortable embracing my differences; I’ve spent much of my life trying to fit in, to figure out the rules, and to play by them hoping to be accepted.

I’m at a point in my career where I don’t feel the need to do that anymore. I feel secure in my identity, my abilities, and my right to be here now, so I’m able to assert myself, challenge the status quo, and advocate for the quieter individuals who tend to be overlooked, more than I did earlier in my career.

So much of what we associate with leadership favors people who are good at talking – in meetings, on stage, in interviews, at networking and social events – that I think introverts really get short changed when it comes to career progression. Introverts can be amazing leaders, too – great listeners, observant, detail-oriented, and collaborative – but their strengths can be more subtle and their names are not top of mind when great career opportunities come up, so they get passed over, and we miss benefiting from their talent and contributions.

This is especially critical because people from marginalized groups (women, people of color, LGBTQA+, persons with disabilities, among others) tend to be quieter and are proportionally underrepresented in the senior ranks. I managed to carve out a path for myself. Now I want use my voice and perspective to broaden the prevailing perceptions of what leadership is, so that we can have more diverse and inclusive management teams, not just at Intelex, but everywhere.

What are you focusing on in 2021?

Mental health is my big focus in 2021. It’s been a full year of lockdown now, and I think we’re all pretty tired of video conferences and not being able to see friends and family or do fun things. We’ve still got a while to go, so I’m trying to take better care of myself and encouraging my team to do so as well. My workspace is in the basement, so I’m trying to block off time in the middle of the day to walk my dog outside, ride my exercise bike, or do an online workout on the 1st floor just to break up all the sitting and get some sunlight.

It’s become more difficult to draw a boundary between work time and personal time, because there’s no physical separation of work and personal space these days. I’m trying to schedule more regular days off and disconnect a bit more, but that’s a still work in progress. I can’t wait until we can all be together again – and this is coming from a high introvert!!!

Other IWD2021 Blogs:

This entry was posted in EHSQ, Health & Safety Management and tagged by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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