Leadership Reflections with Lisa Chan

  • Source: Article
  • Article Date: 6/11/2017

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​From a distance, Lisa Chan may look like a fresh graduate starting her new job. Her appearance belies the fact that she is the General Manager of Business Function-Operational Excellence (BF-OEX) division at PETRONAS ICT.

Seize Opportunities

Prior to joining PETRONAS ICT, Lisa was with the consulting company Accenture, where she worked on a range of projects for PETRONAS, such as Plant Operational Performance (POP) Scorecard, PETRONAS Project Management System and Technical Integrity System (TIPS).

After being involved in delivering various projects for PETRONAS, Lisa realised that she could do more for this Fortune 500 Company if she was a part of it. Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself in 2015, Lisa immediately seized it.

Lisa also volunteered to take up the role of Advisor to the Group ICT Young Professionals Club (GIYPC) when it was chartered in February this year. 

GIYPC has a special mandate to nurture young talents and develop future Group ICT leaders. As the club advisor, Lisa provides guidance to the club’s young members in organising activities such as leadership talks, knowledge sharing sessions, and industrial visits; aimed at empowering young professionals.

Accountability as a Leader

Lisa believes that being a role model is every leader's responsibility. Through her experience, Lisa has seen how a leader can shape a team to become efficient or dysfunctional, and therefore, thinks it is mandatory for leaders to be good role models. Good leaders demonstrate excellent leadership behaviours such as being accountable practising good work ethics and governance.


Lisa Chan at the Brilliant Young Mind Showcase, in May 2017.

Find Opportunities in Challenges

Lisa tries to detach emotion from her work, which helps her to handle difficult situations at work. When there's a "stormy" situation, she does her best to objectively find a logical solution.

Lisa believes that “No situation is so stormy that (one) can't work (his or her) way out of it. If (one) makes a mistake, be better next time. If you fail, find a way to succeed in the future – it is not the end of the world”.

She encourages the practice of stress tolerance – stay calm and figure out an action plan to solve the problem.

When someone in her team needs guidance, Lisa will coach him or her to help improve the staff’s performance. However, if the coaching did not improve his or her work performance nor situation, she concludes that the job may not be suitable for him or her.


Lisa encourages her staff to tell her if there is any part of their job that they do not enjoy doing so that she can help map out a better job plan for them. According to her, “There is no such thing as a universal failure, everyone is good at something”.

Lisa’s secret to a sustainable work-life balance is proper planning and managing your superior's expectations. We need to work hard and focus on achieving our goals – be it to get a promotion, start a family, or pursue further studies.

Advice to Young Professionals

Lisa’s advice to young professionals is to avoid being rigid and picky on what they want to do. Being a young professional comes with the advantage of having plenty time to figure out what he or she wants to do.

Sharing her experience, Lisa said she did nothing but PowerPoint presentation slides in the first six months of her first job. Some would say it was a boring task, but Lisa’s attitude towards it was positive, as she recognised that PowerPoint was a useful skill to learn.

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Lisa concluded her sharing with these pearls of wisdom for the young professionals at Group ICT:
  • Learn how to compartmentalise your emotions as it helps you manage failure and stress- when things do not work out, do not be quick to quit.
  • Learn to accept the reality - sometimes things work out as planned, but sometimes they do not.
  • Do not rely on only one coach or mentor. Rather, refer to many good examples to get a broad perspective.
  • Junior staff may be successful when they are good at what they do, but to progress to managerial level, this is no longer good enough. You must be liked and respected by your peers and teammates. A good manager must know how to motivate, delegate and organise work for a team.


Lisa Chan joined PETRONAS ICT in 2015 as the General Manager of Business Function-Operational Excellence. She graduated from the University of York with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and a Master’s degree in Management. Prior to joining PETRONAS ICT, Lisa was with the consulting company, Accenture, where she served as Head of Talent and Organisation. Lisa brought with her 10 years of experience in management consulting, some of which were gained through servicing PETRONAS’ Group Operational Excellence, Downstream Operations, Exploration and Production, and Technology and Engineering (now part of Group Project Delivery and Technology), as well as PETRONAS ICT.