Raise Up

Go Far and Go Fast with Cindy Deekitwong

May 07, 2020 Amanda LeFever Episode 7
Raise Up
Go Far and Go Fast with Cindy Deekitwong
Chapters
Raise Up
Go Far and Go Fast with Cindy Deekitwong
May 07, 2020 Episode 7
Amanda LeFever

She's the first female engineer in her family, and has not only lived all over the world but journeyed up the corporate ladder at a rapid pace. I'm so excited to introduce to you to my new friend, Cindy Deekitwong, Global Head of Marketing, 3D Printing at Henkel. 

She believes in smashing Legos, and if you're not uncomfortable in your role, you're not stretching enough to be successful in the workplace. Cindy shares her Big 5 Real-Life Lessons, something you definitely want to hear, and how her mission is always to help one person to improve personally or professionally - and today that might be you. 

I can't wait for you to listen! Check it out now. 


RAISE UP SHOWNOTES:
https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/7


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Show Notes Transcript

She's the first female engineer in her family, and has not only lived all over the world but journeyed up the corporate ladder at a rapid pace. I'm so excited to introduce to you to my new friend, Cindy Deekitwong, Global Head of Marketing, 3D Printing at Henkel. 

She believes in smashing Legos, and if you're not uncomfortable in your role, you're not stretching enough to be successful in the workplace. Cindy shares her Big 5 Real-Life Lessons, something you definitely want to hear, and how her mission is always to help one person to improve personally or professionally - and today that might be you. 

I can't wait for you to listen! Check it out now. 


RAISE UP SHOWNOTES:
https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/7


Love the show? These sponsors make it possible!

Mission Mobile Medical
Connecting Communities, Continuing the Mission
https://www.missionmobilemed.com/

Cindy:

No matter how good you are as a high potential top talent employee, you can not go that far. So, don't under-estimate at all the power of collaboration. You want to go far, and you want to go fast, learn to collaborate with others.

Amanda:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the raise up podcast. I'm so glad you're here and excited to introduce you to Cindy Deekitwong. She is a global head of marketing for 3D printing in the adhesive technologies business unit at Henkel. She's a chemical engineer, has an executive degree in supply chain management from MIT, and is a master black belt in Six Sigma. During her 18 years as part of the Henkel organization, she has lived all over the world, including Thailand and Japan, but recently relocated back to Henkel's US headquarters in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, to take on the leadership role in global marketing in the 3D printing division. Cindy, thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm really excited to have you here today.

Cindy:

Nice to meet you, Amanda, and thank you for having me here.

Amanda:

Absolutely. So, first I was doing some research and I saw that you had lived in Japan for awhile. Travis and I visited in 2016 and I loved it. So, tell me a little bit about your world travels. Have you been all over?

Cindy:

Yeah, so, I started my career in Thailand at the time. I'm a first generation of female engineers, so you can imagine at the time I have a lot of energy and power to really go out of my country, so, that I can come back and help the people, especially the female engineers, to grow. So , that's why I reached out to the headquarters at the time in the US and applied for technical service engineering. I got the job in 2003, and since then, I've been moving within the country, across the country, international. So , Japan, Thailand, within the US, California, Boston, and then back again in California. So, yes, the key here is that my family is flexible. They go with me, my husband and my twins come with me along the journey. So, I'm very grateful for that.

Amanda:

That's awesome. And it sounds like you've been all over. How are you liking Connecticut?

Cindy:

Well, I looked at the school system, which is great, and I would say the food is also nice.

Amanda:

Good. That's awesome. So, let's talk a little bit about navigating corporate culture. Good and bad. You're a chemical engineer by training, and my husband says that chemical engineers make the best CEOs because they're trained to think about second, third, and even fourth-order cause and effects of a process change. Do you think he's right? Do you feel like he's right on that one?

Cindy:

I may be a little bit bias, but with an engineering background, I would say so, and the key for me is that the engineering background gives you such a sense of logical foundation, to be logical, to be able to take risks, to understand how to mitigate the risk in a more systematic way. That's why when I take any new project, anytime the engineering sense of thing helping me get through all the challenges.

Amanda:

That's amazing. And I love that you're a first-generation engineer by the way. I bet your family is so proud of you. Yeah. Okay, so before the show, we were talking just a little bit, and I would love it if you would tell the audience a little bit about your big five. Would you be willing to do that?

Cindy:

Amanda, but before sharing with you all about my big five, I call big five real-life lessons for me, the motivation is that why I'm doing this, to me, if after the Podcast, and I can motivate or inspire one, just only one person to go out and be a better self, not better someone else, I achieve my goal. That's why I come up with this big five real-life lessons, and the lesson throughout my career that I like to share. Number one is about seeking first to understand, and oftentimes we look at the person sitting opposite of you. You just give it in the context of what you think that person is. I myself, I grew up in a very moderate family. My mother and my father, were nurses. My mom is an ER nurse, and my dad is the nurse after the surgery taking care of the patients. So, I grew up in the hospital, and I see things that most of the kids at my age, they don't see. For example, the lady that came out of the building with the fake boob and people who design, right? I mean, this is surgery here. You didn't do this so and so, but guess what? The lady had cancer, right? So, sometimes it's always important for you, especially growing to be an authentic leader, to seek first to understand what's behind that, there's always something behind. Don't jump to the conclusion, and to spend time to at least to understand the other side of the table. So that is my number one, the big real-life lesson number two, if you look at the picture of the rubber band , right? The rubber band, to me, represents how you can challenge yourself. It's about knowing yourself, knowing your capability, your capacity, and always challenges yourself. Challenging your team, stretch out of your comfort zone, right? I always talk to my younger colleagues and say, do you feel comfortable in your career right now? If the answer is yes, that is not a healthy sign. Feeling uncomfortable, especially for the female professional, is a very good sign. You are growing. But at the same time when you talk about a rubber band , stretching yourself, one thing that is very important is the ability to bounce back. How do you deal with adversity when things are not going right? How are you recovering? How do you bounce back from those challenges? Right? And one thing I always share, the trick, and the technique to bounce back more effectively is all about acceptance. Acknowledge yourself, do you feel sad, mad, frustrated? Let it be. Allow yourself to be, and with that, you can recover. You can bounce back, be more resilient because your brain is reframing. Your brain is accepting, and now you don't feel so good, and you let yourself be, and then the ability to recover is even better. So, that's my lesson number two, is to think about the rubber band, stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone. But again, be aware, you don't want to break the rubber. You want to have the awareness to be able to come back, and you should. Lesson number three.

Amanda:

Lesson number three. I have one question. You feel like you have stretched a lot in your career? Yes, at every stage? Or do you think that there's been times that it's been a little bit easier, or do you think that you are constantly stretching?

Cindy:

I'm constantly challenging m yself. But of course, you have your down-time, right? When you have downtime, that doesn't mean that you don't stress yourself. I think that's allowing yourself to be, and acknowledge that you are tired today so, you sleep well, and then tomorrow, that's another day that you can challenge it more.

Amanda:

Yeah. That's awesome. Okay. What's lesson number three?

Cindy:

Lesson number three, this is my twins favorite . So, I have nine-year-old, identical twins. One of their hobbies, they love Legos. They s pend hours, and hours, and hours building with Legos. And guess what? Right at almost the end, they smash the Legos. E xactly, Amanda. I'm saying, oh, don't do that. It's given me such a huge moment of reflection, and do you know why? Because, they told me, mom, don't worry, I can make it better, and faster next time. As a n adult, I think we pretty much have a fixed mindset. We're building, we spend time doing things, and we don't want to break it. We feel a certain security in th is c ertain world th at w e live in. But look at my kids, that moment has given me so much power to really think about life, that there are also times to take ri sks. You lose 100 hundred percent of the sh ots y ou don't take. So, I think for me, it's about Legos, it's about growth mindset, and adults have a fixed mindset. So, I actually say thank you to my twins, that ga ve m e one of the big five real-life lessons.

Amanda:

I love that. I love that. Build it faster the second time. I've never thought about it that way, to be honest. My daughter tears them down very quickly, but she does, she makes them better each time and faster.

Cindy:

They're not afraid to take risks, they just do it.

Amanda:

I don't know where we lose that when we become adults. Somehow, we become more calculated a little bit. But I like that. I wrote that one down, I've written them all down actually. So, I'm ready for your number four. This is good .

Cindy:

I need your help. So, the number four is about a train. I want to ask you a question Amanda. You know the French train and a German train, which train, this is a controversial question, which train is going faster?

Amanda:

Oh, no. I have no idea.

Cindy:

So I'll give you a hint. So, Germany, they make a better train . The train technology in Germany is very, very advanced. The French, not so much. But the answer to the train that goes faster between the two is the French train. And the reason behind that is the French work with the tr ain t rack company. They create a collaboration between the train itself and the train track. The German train, they have a train company, and a tr ain t rack company,and they don't really collaborate. The message for me on my lesson number four is about the power of collaboration. As a high potential top talent employee, you cannot go that far. So don't under-estimate at all the power of collaboration. You want to go far, and you want to go fast, learn to collaborate with others.

Amanda:

I love that. Okay, so I know that I have a lot of high achievers that are listening, and so how have you, you're very much a higher achiever, I believe it shows. How have you learned to navigate that collaboration with a team where you are moving quickly because sometimes you feel like you're going slower when you have to collaborate. So what is your advice about that?

Cindy:

Yeah, to me, the collaboration is about give and take. Collaboration is also understanding what is in it for them, what is in it for me, right? Because in the end, you don't want to do just what is in it for me. You want to take something that is in it for them as well. So, that, to me, is a meaning of collaboration, right? You're not doing it just by yourself. You understand the big picture, the benefit to them, benefit to you, benefit to the organization. And then, when you start to steer the ship into that direction, then the collaboration comes in, because people buy-in. They know that if they follow you, t hey're g oing t o grow. They're g oing t o get something out of this relationship as well.

Amanda:

And so, there's an element of trust there too as well, right? That they know that you are going to have their back and that you will work with them instead of leaving them behind. I love that. I really love that. Okay, I'm ready for number five.

Cindy:

Last but not least my big real-life lesson number five, and especially with a younger professional, and female professional. As a female, we are so, so good at managing peers, managing people on the team, managing downwards. We all struggle when we manage upwards. The last lesson that I learned and want to share is about the foundation, how you present yourself upwards . Look at the picture of the table or the stool with the three legs, to me, that's a foundation. Presenting yourself upwards, first of all, you know yourself, you know who you are, you embrace who you are, and I give you an example of myself. I'm Thai, I have an accent, and I can step back, and not be so confident i n what I say. But I found out it's not about my accent, i t's about my content, about what I say, and how I say, it's not about having an accent, and it took me a long time to be myself. So ju st b e yourself, but embrace it, and tell yourself it 's o kay. I'm Thai, I cannot change my accent to have a Caucasian accent or a European accent, and it comes to understanding yourself. Another thing for us as a female is that in the form of presentation, right? Present to executive management, practice it, practice, practice, practice. You fake it until you believe it.

Amanda:

I like that, a lot of preparation.

Cindy:

And then , you know, look again at the stool and the leg. The second leg is about knowing your stakeholder, right? Know what is important to them, know what's in their head, know what's in it for them. And then you will contextualize the content that matters to them, right? By knowing your stakeholder, especially upwards , you can have a lot more confidence, more effective in how you do with the conversation, how you do with the interaction with the project, how you even know how to speak up in the meeting or dealing with the conflict. So, don't underestimate again, the stakeholder element of how you present yourself upwards .

Amanda:

So, with a stakeholder , do you feel like it's knowing their personality traits? Do you feel like it's knowing what is important to them or what they value in the company? What elements are you looking for, or advising that someone that is, trying to speak upward, what are they looking for? How can they better serve themselves in that position?

Cindy:

Yeah, that's a good point, Amanda. And the key for me when it's come to managing stakeholder upwards, I always think about the golden, the millionaire question, the CEO question that they always ask one thing, how do you grow a business? That's in general, that's for their vision. That's very important. That's its priority. How do you grow a business? Keep that in your mind when you talk to the executives, Right? Because in the end, it's not about what you do, it's about what you do that matters to the business growth. What do you do that matters to them, and benefits the company? So again, yes, knowing your stakeholders, know their personality. Is this person more of a de tail p erson? So, you give a de tailed b ackground. If this person is a bottom line, like me, you go with the bottom result first, and then you ca scade d own to t he de tail.

Amanda:

And don't overload with the details, Right?

Cindy:

And that's actually linked to the last part of the stool. Knowing your storyline. As a woman, especially, I see myself in STEM, engineering scientist , technical;we love detail. We always love details and we think the details are the greatest thing in the world. But when it comes to managing upwards, understand what's the key message, and is that key message, is simple and clear? It's not about being detail- oriented, and it's about being clear. And how do you convey that story to your stakeholder? Make it short and simple, and it's so hard, Amanda, very hard, with backgrounds like ours, it's so hard. I c annot make it simple and clear. It has to have a lot of detail and that if, again, if you reflect to this three-legged stool, it will help you more effectively deal upwards. I guarantee it because it's happened to me. If I can do it, everybody can do it.

Amanda:

I love that. Okay, so self-awareness, knowing your stakeholder , and then, is it being clear, or what was the third one?

Cindy:

So, it's knowing yourself, knowing your stakeholder, and knowing your story line.

Amanda:

Your story line. That's right. Okay. I wrote that right there, but then I wrote really big, being clear with your story line, so that's amazing. All right , let's see here. So that's your foundation. Whenever you're talking, which one do you feel like is the most important of the big five real-life lessons?

Cindy:

I think at the end of the day, if you ask me one thing, it's all about how you reframe when you deal with a challenge or adversity. That's going to stress yourself, I think it's very important that you understand how your brain works. There's something that I want to add to that piece, is the brand theory, the energy flow where attention goes, if you have challenges in your life, difficult times in your life, you think positive, you turn things positive. If you think negatively, then you get a negative result. That's why the ability to be resilient and bounce back by allowing yourself to be. That gives you such a huge rebound quickly. So your brain reframes that energy so quickly into the positive side of things . Again, the energy flows, where attention goes.

Amanda:

I love that. That's so good. Okay, so I have a question about conflict. How do you personally deal with conflict? Is that something that you've learned to just navigate? I know a lot of my listeners, especially my women, are a little bit more hesitant when it comes to confrontational situations.

Cindy:

Yeah. I have to admit this is something I deal with every day . Personally, If you ask me if I like it, I don't think it's about like it, or not, but it's a part of your life, right? If you grow in a leadership role, dealing with conflict is a part of your leadership skill that you have to be able to deal with. So, when I look at the conflict, first of all, maybe there's still a bit more at stake that some of the leaders, especially the female leaders , didn't take, it's that you didn't acknowledge the situation when the conflict happened. The strong leader, first of all, has to acknowledge that. These are things that are not going well, I feel some tension, and I feel that we have to address a certain thing in order for us, as a team to move forward. So, I think that's a huge part of it, from my point of view when you deal with the conflict, the first thing you have to do is acknowledge it. Don't ignore it, and don't underestimate. The more you ignore the tension, the more it goes up, high up, high up, and then it blows up. And that's not a good result. So, I think, first of all, acknowledge that some tension, some conflict is there. And the second one and this is the female thing, that can come very naturally, be a good listener. The conflict comes when we don't have the same opinion or same direction. So, I think by having active listening and be a good listener, you can dig deeper, why it happened that way from a different perspective. And then with that, you can start mapping it out. What does the solution look like? You can start steering the ship from going in a different direction, and start building things and say, Hey, the conflict comes because I see this as a g ap. Then, how can we address, as a team, the solution-oriented, not the problem- oriented, but again by that point when you are already laid out, what is a potential r oadblock or gaps and when you put on the table, I think when people see it then I think it's easier to address some conflict o r t ension.

Amanda:

Yeah, absolutely. Because that's really true. Whenever you ignore it, or you just push it aside, that it does just blow up, and there become assumptions, and it gets bigger than it probably ever should have. And so, I really liked that first piece, acknowledge. I'm not sure that I've ever heard anybody say it like that, but I do have one question, we've found some research showing that women, in STEM careers, have a particularly hard time negotiating these waters. Do you have any strategies for young professional women starting out in a big organization?

Cindy:

Definitely. So how I see this , let me start with very basic fundamental thing that I want to encourage the younger generation is that I see a lot of younger generation, they try to grow themselves very fast and they, sometimes they forget about understanding who they are as a person. They try to grow; I want to be CEO, I want to be a CMO, and I want to be a President. So, sometimes by jumping too fast, too quickly, without understanding who we are, what you're good at. Then, be a better self, rather than build yourself to be a better someone else, and that most of the time, you lose that foundation of who you are, and you try to negotiate or try to rebuild something u p on yourself, and you don't have yourself yet. And that's a style that's very simple Amanda. But I see I have a lot younger generation on my team in the past as well, and that is for the topic that I c oach them all the time that to understand yourself an d do n't tr y t o be better someone else that's not go ing t o w ork for you, and it's not sustainable.

Amanda:

Right ? Yeah. Because I know a lot of my audience and even my friends that they're striving for more and they want to be better, and they're growing, and they're pushing, but then they're frustrated and so, I've never thought about that being a better self, your better self. And it goes back to like the foundation too , doesn't it? A lot of self-awareness?

Cindy:

Yeah. But, that doesn't mean you can not stretch yourself. And I give my personal career aspiration I share with my team, my goals, I want to be chief marketing officer. I want to be CMO one day, you dream big, you dream high, but I dream of being a better self. And I think that's the key. I mean, you be a better self, you know yourself, you still stretch yourself, but it comes from you. It's the inside out energy, from inside out, and it's sustainable.

Amanda:

I love that. That's so good. Oh my gosh. Okay. So is there anything else, I hate to close, but is there anything else that you want to add to our conversation about young professionals advancing their careers?

Cindy:

So , what I'd like to share, lastly, about how I see or how we should see the business today. Even in Henkel, we have an acronym, VUCA, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, which is a huge driver. When you look at the market today, globalization, digitalization, competition in the market, and social responsibility. And I think it's important for us to reflect on the situation and understand the impact on the leadership in the 21st century. Right? What is it going to take to be an effective leader? To me, when I look at myself in leadership, I consider myself to be inclusive and an adaptive leader, and in order for me to do that, it's all about the small experiments , small adjustments on your leadership style, and remember, go back to that big five real-life lessons that will definitely help you grow.

Amanda:

I love that. Thank you, Cindy. So much. So, where can people connect with you? Because I wish that we had more time. This has been amazing, and you have given us so much, and so many gold nuggets out of this episode. Where is the best place to connect with you?

Cindy:

Connect with me, and I love to connect with all of you on LinkedIn. If you look at me, Cindy Deekitwong and again, if you can help me achieve my goal, sharing your story with me that you go out, and you are trying to be your better self , not a better someone else, I would love to hear from you.

Amanda:

I love that. Not a better someone else. Thank you Cindy, so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it.

Cindy:

Oh, thank you, Amanda. It was such a pleasure to have this discussion, so thank you for having me.

Amanda:

Now, if you did find some valuable tips in this podcast today, please take a minute to subscribe to the podcast, because it will only get better from here and be sure to share it, and tell all of your friends about it on Facebook and Instagram and all your social media sites. I would truly appreciate the social media love. Thanks again for listening, and I can't wait to connect with you again. Bye for now.