Claire Chiang, a Taiwanese businesswoman, excelled at Chanel, Moet Hennessy, and Diageo over two decades, reaching the pinnacle as Managing Director. With valuable lessons in leadership, she now aims to mentor others as she embarks on a new career path.

Time. Especially for oneself. That’s something Claire Chiang didn’t have for many years. For over 20 years, she worked as an executive, most recently as Managing Director for Moet Hennessy in Taipei. She turned her back on her demanding job to focus on her new career. Currently, she is undergoing training to become a coach, aiming to pass on her experiences to other executives and employees. Indeed, she has learned a lot in her career and, above all, achieved a great deal. She rarely took a break. „Even on vacation, I checked my emails,“ she openly admits as we meet in a café in Taipei’s Da’an district. Every morning, she woke up at six to go jogging. She even ran marathons. „It wasn’t that enjoyable for me, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.“

Suddenly, she has so much time, can go with the flow, no deadlines, no numbers, no appointments. „I’m really enjoying it,“ she says. Her latest goal, to become an excellent coach, is firmly in her sights. Goals have always driven the mother of a 14-year-old son. She has always been very disciplined, knowing from a young age that she wanted to become a General Manager. She studied Marketing in Taiwan and pursued a double major in Marketing and Management Information Systems (MIS) at Buffalo, New York. Even for her second degree, she chose MIS, a subject she knew she wasn’t good at, but she wanted to prove herself. It wasn’t always easy. When her Indian classmates took a day to solve a problem, it took her a week. „There were often many tears shed, but I persevered,“ she says.

She learned about corporate culture early on from her father, who worked as an HR Director for a major Taiwanese bank. Her younger brother also works in banking. In New York, she interned at a bank, but she realized it wasn’t for her, so she decided on marketing. She wanted to interact with people. She thought very early on about which brands she liked and which ones she would like to work for.

Her talent and ambition took her far. She worked for Chanel, the American technology conglomerate 3M, and Diageo, a manufacturer of alcoholic beverages. She also worked abroad, totaling five years in Singapore. „I always told my young Taiwanese colleagues that it’s important for them to go abroad. Taiwanese children are driven by their parents when it comes to school and education, but they are also very pampered,“ she says with a laugh. That’s one reason why she sent her son to the German School. „I don’t speak German, so he was initially very much on his own with his homework. By now, he speaks German very well and is very independent at the age of 14.“

Claire Chiang took away a lot from her time in Singapore. In the highly modern city-state, there is an abundance of well-educated people from all over the world. It was a cultural clash for her too at first. „When Indians agree on something, they shake their heads. I didn’t understand that at first until I asked my colleague, and he explained that all Indians do it,“ she says. Her biggest learning during this time? „It makes you even more humble.“

Claire Chiang had her first leadership position as a People Manager at the age of 30. Looking back, she is very self-critical of her early days as a manager: „I focused heavily on my position and role, ensuring that the numbers and results were right. I drove my employees hard and paid less attention to what they personally needed and wanted. I wasn’t a good listener at that time,“ says the 48-year-old today.

Her leadership style changed when she became a mother at the age of 34. „I became more approachable, showed more understanding.“ Today, she is proud to say that after many years, former employees come to her for professional advice. During her time at Moet Hennessy, some young colleagues went abroad. She supported them in preparing for the interviews.

She approaches her new career as a coach with as much enthusiasm as her time as an executive. „I want to become a blessing to others,“ is one of her main goals. Just as it is not common in Taiwan and other Asian countries to go to a psychologist, the coaching market in Taiwan is not yet particularly established. She has had experiences with foreign coaches herself, but not all of them could give her the right advice. „I found that although I had very nice coaches, they hadn’t previously worked at the executive level like me, so they couldn’t help me with certain issues.“ And it’s precisely these experiences in the workplace that Claire missed from other coaches that she brings with her. „A good coach doesn’t tell someone what to do; instead, you work out the pain points that are important for solving the problem,“ she says. Because the pain points come from within oneself, and that’s what you need to work on.

When her son asks her today whether he should study computer science because it’s trendy and part of the professions of the future, she tells him, „Do what you love and what you’re passionate about.“ Just like his mother loved marketing and now coaching.

Taiwanese trailblazer: Claire Chiang’s journey from executive success to mentorship


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