26 September 2023

How to think beyond your role and advance your career

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Fairygodboss* shares advice from an experienced manager.

Claire Chen took on the role as the department manager of Wilton Research for ASML last April, after transitioning from being the group lead of a mechanical engineering group working on the EUV (extreme ultraviolet) reticle stage.

Claire tells Fairygodboss that she believes she was given the opportunity to move into the role because she demonstrated an ability to “make it happen”— which she views as a key element in advancing your career.

“When taking on a task, don’t just do what’s told; think broader — holistically — and think through the problem,” she advises.

“Take the full responsibility; don’t limit yourself on what’s your responsibility and what belongs to others.

“When you see a gap, try and fix it.

“This shows your critical thinking capabilities — and that you’re ready for a higher level of ownership.”

“Additionally, “when you show this drive and initiative, people are usually more than willing to help,” Claire tells us.

So, don’t be afraid to speak up about your career ambitions so those around you can help you achieve them!

Here, we caught up with Claire to learn more about her manager role at ASML and her wise words for others looking at leadership positions.

To start, what’s your No. 1 piece of leadership advice?

Be self-aware and have good situational awareness.

How about your top three pieces of advice for women looking to enter a leadership role?

  1. Set realistic expectations about yourself and your team

Fairly assess your strengths and pitfalls, and understand what you’re bringing to the table.

You are not going to be the best at everything, which is okay.

This could help with “imposter syndrome,” or dealing with feelings of not being good enough and self doubt, which might occur from time to time.

  1. Be authentic

You might be taking over from someone to lead the team.

You do not need to copy your predecessor, as you may have different strengths.

  1. Make time for yourself

You need to take care of yourself first before you can really help others.

Consider putting one hour on your calendar to self reflect, plan out the week, and think beyond your day-to-day work (strategic thinking).

Can you tell us more about making time for yourself?

There was a period of time when there was a lot of stress at work; I was so drained after work everyday that I didn’t even want to talk with my family.

This put some strain in my personal relationships, and I felt a lot of guilt.

This also negatively impacted my health.

After some self-reflection and talking with my support system, I decided to set up better boundaries between work and personal life, and check-in with myself regularly to make sure I didn’t overexert myself.

As a leader of a large team, how do you make sure that you’re able to support and empower your entire team?

I ensure regular interactions with each team member, and give time based on their needs.

I also focus on empowering the team rather than micromanaging.

I create some hierarchy to delegate and allow people a few intermediate steps to develop their leadership skills.

How has ASML supported your own career growth?

Mainly with on-the-job trainings, stretch assignments, as well as leadership training programs such as the TTP (talent traineeship), ADP (architect development) and LCP (leadership capacity) programs.

Finally, what is the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

Always keep your promises, but don’t make promises you can’t keep.

*Fairygodboss is a job search site that can be used by anyone, but specialises in helping women find work in almost any industry.

This article first appeared at fairygodboss.com.

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