Leader Q&A: Constance Kong

Post by: Abbey Baldacchino
Published: 28 August 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career in sales so far.

“My sales career spans across industries IT, ICT, Hospitality, and MICE for more than 20 years.

I am a working mother of four grown-up children who are between 25 years old and 16 years old.  Known to friends and colleagues, I am a “Tiger Mum.” 

I enjoy many sports, cycling, swimming, running and hiking. I still actively cycle regularly. I used to represent my school teams in netball, swimming and track & field, team sports competitive events.

My participation in competitive sports events has instilled discipline, time-management, and the ability to focus on everything I do at work and on my personal front as well.  Reflection is something I do to remind myself to identify areas of improvement and mistakes.

Time is finite for everyone and I always try my best to allocate time for work, my family, and lastly time for myself too.  This is challenging but it is important to ensure you live a fulfilling life. Constant recalibration is needed to stay in balance. 

I have mentored new hires, built teams and been active in facilitating cross-functional team collaboration. “How to build a winning-team with sales and non-sales members?” has been my mantra as a sales leader. 

I realise diligence, discipline, focus, reflection and time management are key success criteria in my sales career.”

You work in an interesting niche – iGaming of Cybersecurity, what are some of the challenges and interesting aspects of working in this space?

“Gambling is one of the oldest forms of social entertainment and it is made available online with the technical leap in the internet and invention of super computers. 

iGaming refers to all forms of online gambling and betting on the outcome of events, games or sporting competitions on the Internet, encompassing: Poker, Online casinos and Slot games, with casino games accounting for the largest portion of market share. There are definitely sensitivities around socially-acceptable entertainment, involving specifics of in-country laws and regulations.  I would say a book could be written on the history and evolution of gambling to online-gambling with the advancement of technologies supporting and protecting the online forms of gambling activities. Since this is a lucrative business in its own right, it is subject to the high risk of cyber attacks to such kinds of online gambling platforms and its business operators.

In iGaming of Cybersecurity, I am personally not promoting gambling but I am promoting and advocating solutions to mitigate Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack.”  It is a cybercrime in which the attacker floods a server with internet traffic to prevent users from accessing connected online services and websites.  Additionally, the company I am currently working for also offers solutions that protect web applications from attacks resulting in sensitive customer data compromise.”

You’re a big advocate for diversity in the workplace, leading by example when hiring for your own team. What are some of the positive impacts of a diverse sales team you’ve observed over the years? 

“Diversity in the workplace is key to continual improvement and success. If a company keeps hiring the same personnel for one company or the same industry, very soon you have a team, a department, the entire company thinking and working in a similar fashion. As a result, there is the lack of opportunities to think out of the box, innovate or challenge the norms. In a fast changing business environment, regional and global landscape, an individual or a company can risk being economically, technologically obsolete and irrelevant.

At a team level, the benefit of a diverse team made of individuals of different industries backgrounds,  sales experience, ethnic origins, age etc could compliment one another if they are enabled to work and learn as a team with some healthy form of rivalry. There is no one successful or winning formula but you can experiment with the team, allow room for error and recalibration, promote positive and  open communication and reduce frictions at work. 

The end result is a highly cohesive, performant team that each individual can add value to. You can also nurture individuals who want to take on leadership roles or individuals who prefer to be individual sales contributors in the capacity of a hunter or farmer.”

What are the top things you think the tech industry could do to achieve better gender diversity?

“The tech industry can conscientiously and deliberately foster work culture and devise policies in selection recruitment, hiring to promote gender diversity. 

Gender diversity and inclusiveness go hand in hand. The value of gender diversity needs to be included in the companies’ core values. When put into practice with continuous leadership support, this value can be percolated down to all parts of the business.  It may take a longer time to make this work in some countries and cultures. 

This has to be executed as internal campaigns repeatedly in order for the value to be adopted and sit in the inner core of a company’s culture.”

How has being a mother impacted your career and approach to leadership – both negative and positive?

“Being a mother has impacted my sales career and approaches leadership in many ways.

I am a nurturing leader by allowing my team members to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I tend to give guidance and close coaching to my team members. Having regular one on one sessions with all my team members and direct reports is second nature to me. This allows me to understand each of their challenges and status at work if they are motivated or demoralised. I can give encouragement or advice if needed. 

With a motherly nature, I need to also step back to ensure team members do not become so reliant that I would need to do the task(s) for them. There must be clear division, positive reinforcement of roles and responsibilities within the team.   

It is also important to foster team-spirit where anyone would step in to assist in times of need.”

What advice would you give to other female sales professionals wanting to progress into leadership?

“For female sales professionals wanting to progress into leadership roles, please do not be disheartened by the fact that you are always outnumbered or by ratio, you are not represented in the company or business unit or department. You need to overcome this mental hindrance. Being confident, self-worth, knowledgeable in your job role and responsibilities and understanding the expectations and your limitations are important. 

Some tips help me to take the leap of faith in myself to jump on any opportunity that allows me to take on leadership roles and take the lead informally in any work group.

  1. Refrain from taking anything too seriously e.g. from unfair and unjust remarks from others. Once you have shown your worth and capabilities, naturally you will gain support from the ground up as well. 
  2. Know the limits. Limits could be one’s limit then. The limit could be overcome over time by working on one’s areas of improvement. It could be limits set by others around you, due to stereotypes. Do not give up easily by boundaries set up by others. 
  3. Focus on what you can do or bring to the table to contribute without really expecting anything specific in return first. This way eventually you will gain respect from co-workers. Every existing limit poses a challenge to oneself, try to overcome the limit and find ways to break through the boundaries, and you reach new heights or achievements. 

You may need to spend a longer time or be more diligent to be noticed. It is a fact you need to accept. You adopt an open mind and embark on a continuous learning journey that there are always opportunities and moments to learn on the job. 

Be brave to take up new roles, goals and challenges that some of our male colleagues shy away from since they are not short of opportunities to be noticed and promoted. 

Volunteer, raise your hands to take up the responsibilities if you strongly feel that you are up to it.

Thank you so much to Constance Kong for her valuable contribution to our Leader Q&A series. Click here to read our other editions. 

To keep up to date on Constance’s career find her LinkedIn here