Huilin M. joined Kimberly-Clark four years ago as strategy director for the Asia Pacific region and rose to Managing Director of Taiwan within two years, even though she didn’t “check all the boxes” for the position.
“The support from my manager helped me step up to be the leader I am today,” she points out. “Many people tend to first think about why a person is not ready and go externally to fill a vacancy. Instead, managers need to think about how we can support a high-potential person in the team to rise to the challenge.”
It’s a philosophy endemic to Kimberly-Clark, which actively develops internal talent through a variety of strategies and training programs.
Huilin says she feels supported by the can-do communal attitude that ripples throughout the company.
“Kimberly-Clark’s culture is caring, and the teamwork-oriented collaborative culture helps bring out the best ideas to support the business,” Huilin reflects. “The company is filled with smart, good people who have the right intentions and are trying to do the right thing. It makes my role rewarding to be surrounded by employees who care about the company and each other.”
That culture helped her and her team transform Taiwan from a stagnant market into a profitable one. In fact, the region posted its highest profits ever in 2020, she notes.
“I feel that my biggest accomplishment has been helping bring out the best in the Taiwan team to turn around the past challenging business trends in a mature market with flat to declining categories,” Huilin notes. “I am very proud of the team’s accomplishment.”
She’s inspired by Kimberly-Clark initiatives for Inclusion & Diversity, Social Impact and Sustainability — missions that are woven throughout the company.
“I especially appreciate Kimberly-Clark’s self-reflection and commitment to supporting the progress of females, not only through Kotexâ brand consumer efforts but also internally within the company with various programs,” Huilin says.
She also values the company’s publicly stated goals to slash its forest and carbon footprints by half and to achieve sustainable water use at all sites in water-stretched regions by 2030.
“It tells me that Kimberly-Clark is making a major commitment to do our part in being a good corporate global citizen and transform into a more environmentally friendly company,” she says. “It’s a good and important step.”
Huilin herself is no stranger to bold moves. In fact, she says taking a risk put her on the path to executive general management.
Eight years into her career at a different multinational company, Huilin switched from marketing to sales despite warnings that she was leaving the firm’s track to general management.
“The transfer to sales turned out to be one of the best career decisions I made,” she reflects. “It led me to become more open-minded and take on different types of assignments, including mergers and acquisitions and strategy. These experiences gave me broader learnings and better prepared me to be a general manager.”
Huilin relaxes by doing yoga and outdoor activities, such as hiking with her children.
“I like to think of myself as someone who has a good heart and genuinely cares for people and am fair and honest in all my dealings with everyone,” she says. “I would also describe myself as fast-paced and determined.”
Authentic, accountable, innovative, caring — these qualities typify Kimberly-Clark employees.
Thinking of applying? Huilin suggests you consider this culture and whether it’s the place for you to grow your skills and career.
She also reveals one of her go-to questions for job applicants: “If you could be anyone, who would you be, and why?”
“I have gotten a lot of very interesting responses, and my favorite answer remains, ‘I would be myself,’ because it shows self-confidence of staying true to who you are,” Huilin says. “People don’t expect to get this type of question in an interview. As a result, it forces them to think quickly on the spot, and the answers I’ve gotten have revealed how candidates think under pressure as well as how analytical and creative they are.”