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Olenia Chen

Senior Manager of Digital Supply Chain Solutions (Asia), Micron Technology

As Sr. Manager at Micron Technology, AWE Accelerator Olenia Chen is responsible for the DSC Solutions team based in Asia, comprising a team of Supply Chain Engineers, Business Process Analysts, Business Intelligence Engineers and Program Managers. We sat down with Olenia to discuss leadership principles, breaking out of her shell, and her renewed love for piano playing.  


Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Olenia. You studied Industrial and Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore. What led you away from engineering and towards digital supply chain management?

Looking back, my formative years in a Manufacturing Production and Planning background were stepping blocks that helped me in this pathfinding journey, leading to my current role. I would admit though – in  my  junior years, be they educational choices or early career options, it felt  like I was going with the flow and readily took up opportunities as they come.. It takes a lot of self-awareness and self-reflection to realize where my strengths and passions are, and eventually grow confident in this assurance. For example, upon graduation, I wouldn’t have thought I would work as a solutions manager. Once I  started being protective and intentional of my career journey, the path forward started to become a lot clearer. 

I love what you said about self-awareness and self-reflection. Do you credit your success and where you are today with your ability to look intently at yourself?

Looking inward is definitely important, but I would also credit leadership programs such as AWE and mentors at work who believe in me. One of my mentors was very invested in helping me. When he saw that I was staying too much in my comfort zone, he said, “You should look for opportunities and if you don’t find them, you might just have to create them.” So, while having self-awareness helps, having someone else see your strengths also validates you. His comments helped me really settle in and look inward and ask myself, “what do I truly want?” In this interaction, I became more aware that I haven’t been courageous enough to ask myself those tough questions about the future of my career.  

Can you tell me about your experience with AWE Accelerator

AWE Accelerator was the most impactful eight weeks of my professional life! It was well structured and led by the facilitators. The topics were thought-provoking and insightful. Everyone felt comfortable sharing their challenges and I found myself much more open speaking up about my own experiences. Meiko can attest that I shared that I used to be that kid who sat at the back of the class, an introvert, but programs like Accelerator made me comfortable with myself! I saw true value in participating with the team and everyone was interactive too! Eventually, with such synergy, I spoke up a lot during our weekly calls. I’m in awe of Accelerator!

You were a part of a single company cohort since your group consisted of women only from Micron. How was that? 

It was nice getting to meet women from Micron from all around Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Singapore. It felt like a reunion with some familiar faces, while with others it was our first time interacting. It was a great opportunity to network with colleagues whom I wouldn’t have met in my regular course of work interactions. Now I have friends in various departments on the other side of the building and in other countries. We are still in touch and even keep each other accountable on our development journeys – it’s great having someone alongside to grow together! 

You have 10 years of managerial experience leading a team size of up to 15 in various leadership roles so far. What makes you an effective team leader?

Thanks to my mentor and current supervisor for his guidance on this matter. Once I stopped worrying so much about impostor syndrome, my perspective on effective leadership changed. I accepted that I wouldn’t know everything at the start, nor am I trying to be an expert in everything. However, knowing that my role (and strength!) is akin to a sports coach, putting together the right team with the right skills, potential and mindset is the game changer. Coaching and mentoring teammates became a significant activity in my day job. In the end, once I started feeling more comfortable in my own skin, I executed more naturally and confidently! I believe I earned the respect and trust from the team and that has made us effective. 

It takes a lot of trust in your team, right?

Exactly. I think the key to success is trusting your team – teamwork makes the dream work! My guiding principle is to toggle between leading from the front and guiding from the back. This helps allow some space for my team to grow and mature, yet with clear direction with where the team is headed. It’s easier said than done mastering the toggling between these principles, but I strongly believe my team members need to flex their creativity and evolve their own leadership skills. 

What can you share with us that we wouldn’t otherwise know about you? Any hobbies? 

I became a piano enthusiast during the pandemic period! I only had very novice skills when I was younger given what we could afford but, thankfully and despite circumstances, my family retained the piano. In the past two years, I’ve challenged myself out of my comfort zone (an ongoing theme!) playing piano covers with the help of lead chord sheets and piano tutorials found online. While I got to re-learn a skill for myself, I found solace in music through this period. I surprised myself by creating a YouTube page and uploading one song per month to keep myself accountable to this self-learning journey. I now openly share it as I have become less afraid of people’s judgment. I get to release my creative side!

 This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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