Anthony A Rose, Chairman & CEO, House of Rose Professional

By Channy Lee

“It was my moment of victory,” Anthony A Rose says, describing the sight of 443 people in their seats early in the morning for the Break the Ceiling Touch the Sky Summit, an event that endorses the success and leadership of women.

“I have never been to any event in Singapore where people are in their seats by 8:15 in the morning. And out of the 443, only three people left early at the end of the day. There were 440 people in their seats at 6pm when the summit closed.”

Rose and his company, House of Rose Professional, a professional firm in Singapore providing services related to public relations, publishing and people services, hosted the summit where 40 international business leaders recognized and showcased the success and leadership for women.

Prior to starting his own business, Rose served in a leadership position in Walmart Asia Headquarters with a team composed of all females. With the talent pipeline he built in Walmart Japan, a female talent was promoted to become a VP to lead the local chapter of the organization for the first time ever in history of Walmart Japan.

The motivation to support gender equality so vigorously came from his mother. “Watching her, it became very apparent that in terms of capability, there is no difference in capability between women and men. What changes as we grow is the social conditioning. Society conditions men and women to behave differently,” he explains.

Rose deems both his parents as his biggest inspiration – his mother for supporting her family while running her own kindergarten and his father for impeccably supporting her through her career. He explains that he has learned more from his role models than from any leadership training. “I was convinced that women are making an incredible difference,” Rose says, speaking of how he gradually developed the passion of empowering women as he watched his parents.

The working environment he advocates and actualizes is one where talent utility is maximized without discrimination against gender, and every talent is kept track of. On the same line of thought, Rose believes that men should approach gender equality through doing what they are each capable of. The belief echoes his personal philosophy that each individual’s talent should be utilized to their full potential.

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The “He For She” mindset also derives from his familial background, and is a basis on which he argues that male involvement is key in achieving gender equality.

“Women can’t do it without men. Currently only 4.5 percent of CEOs in big businesses are female. 94.5 percent of the top jobs in business – the CEOs – are men. So if you are excluding men from the discussion, you are excluding 94.5 percent of the most important people in business who can help women get to where they want to be and can help women and men to gender equality,” Rose says.

With the compelling set of data, Rose asserts that it is important to make opportunities for men to help. “Many men want to help. It’s not as if all men are opposed to women being in place of power. No, I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think men want to help but they don’t know how to help or they feel awkward to help,” he points out.

In addressing such a problem, the strategy put forward by the summit was sharing what is being done for empowerment of women at the workplace. He repeatedly emphasizes that instead of complaining about what is not being done, it needs to be shown what is being done so that those with the exposure can leave the room feeling positively inspired and say ‘Hey, I can do that.’

With the success of the summit, an Indian edition of the conference was planned for, immediately. Break the Ceiling Touch the Sky Summit – India is to happen in February 2016, designed to suit the relevant circumstances of India and the culture of male dominance that he believes need to be fundamentally addressed. A new book of his is also to be published in the same month. He hints the book will be about having the dream job.

Rose persistently moves to champion for causes he strongly believes in. “There is a beautiful phrase I like to use. ‘The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.’ You have so many people talking about it. For me it’s about taking action, it’s about being an example, it’s about doing something small and growing into something big.”