‘Fail Faster to Succeed Sooner’ — Advice From a Seasoned Career Pivoter and ‘Dream Big’ Intrapreneur

Sponsored by Henkel

Cindy Deekitwong

Photo courtesy of Henkel.

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It can be intimidating to make a career change, but a sense of confidence, not fearing failure and a great company culture can make this pivot a lot easier. Luckily for Cindy Deekitwong, she had all of these for her career pivots!

“Since my first day, I’ve felt a sense of belonging,” says Deekitwong, now the Global Head of Marketing & Customer Experience, Incubator Business at Henkel Adhesive Technologies. “I’m grateful for the support of my teammates. Our unique culture makes me feel comfortable to bring my best self to work and leverage my strengths.”

This sense of belonging and collaborative spirit, combined with Deekitwong’s passion for her work and belief that the power of failure helps you achieve success, has enabled her to thrive in her work and many career moves. Here, she shares some of her best career advice for facing your fears and making a career leap.

Tell me about your career trajectory and pivot.

I entered the 3D-printing industry in 2018 after returning from a three-year international assignment in Japan as the Head of Purchasing and Head of Supplier Innovation. Upon my return, the 3D Printing Incubator team was growing and needed help in the Marketing and Strategy area. As a part of Henkel’s small start-up team, I was excited for this opportunity to pivot my career to driving this team and growing the business. 

My current mission is to use modern marketing and the unique capabilities of our Loctite brand storytelling, digital data and technology to connect with our ecosystem of partners and users. I am passionate about using a human approach to marketing based on the “job-to-be-done” methodology and leveraging omnichannel capabilities to obtain a picture of our users and create user experiences that add value as they engage with our Loctite brand.

An example of Cindy and the Loctite brand. Photo courtesy of Henkel.

What helped you pivot your career? 

I grew up in Thailand, and we lived paycheck-to-paycheck. We might have been limited financially, but we were rich in terms of love and empowerment in our family. My parents are my heroes, and they always modeled integrity, perseverance, and an entrepreneurial mindset. They taught me to be brave enough to try and stop fearing rejection, since mistakes and failures help you grow.

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day? 

I focus on mindfulness about life with gratitude. I’m an early bird and start the day around four or five a.m. First, I reflect on three-to-five things I’m grateful for, such as my health and having food and a home — sometimes it’s something simple like a nice cup of strong espresso! It is my quiet quality time to be with myself. With my fast-paced and driven personality, it is very important for me to pause first before going full-speed ahead! 

What’s been your favorite career mistake that you’ve made? 

I am a “dream big and hustle hard” entrepreneur, and the way I look at failures might be different from how others do. 

I celebrate mistakes and failure. I know when we fail faster, it will help us reach success sooner. Eliminate the fear of rejection, be brave enough to try and remember my favorite phrase: “Fail faster to succeed sooner!”

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received? 

To me, it’s all about a strong foundation: know yourself, embrace who you are and continue to develop a better you. Be uncommon and be you.

In life, nothing worth having comes easy. In your career you’ll break a lot of barriers, succeeding in a business where the situations weren’t exactly in your favor. It’s not just okay to be different — it can actually be a BIG advantage! To really capitalize, you have to work hard and work smart. Think outside the box.

What advice would you give to other women interested in making a major career change? 

I’d like to focus on leadership values that can be applied to any career milestones:

  • Know your customer and know what business you’re in. One of the most important questions a CEO will ever ask you is, “How do we grow the business?” Always be prepared to answer it. 

  • Remember WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Every time you face challenges with managing your stakeholders, ask yourself, what’s in it for everyone at the table? 

  • Nothing replaces action. Just do it!

  • Blending works better than balancing. In your busy life, there will be many times when you’ll have to manage work and family. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Learn how to blend the two. It works!

  • Collaboration wins. Know why French trains are faster than German trains? France invested in high-speed tracks. To achieve results, you have to optimize the synergy between train and track.

  • Failures are just lessons. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

  • Love what you do, and do what you love. When you work with your brain and your heart, you will experience achievement in an authentic way!

What has stood out most about Henkel?

It’s been an exciting 20 years. I’ve had the opportunity to travel, work and live in many different places around the world. I’ve been exposed to many different cultures, each with unique values but with a lot of common ground. Regardless of location, our customers are striving to compete and win, and I'm committed to helping them.  

At Henkel, our 145-year-old culture makes us unique. We believe that business transformation comes hand in hand with culture transformation. I live up to our four leadership commitements: We act as entrepreneurs, we collaborate as a strong team, we develop people with passion and we own our results. Every day, I lead my team as a role model, while embracing our team spirit. 

I am grateful for the opportunities for growth and development that Henkel offered me over 20 years. I got to experience work in different functions (Sales, Technical Service Engineer, Supply Chain and Operation, Innovation, Purchasing and Marketing), experience working in multiple countries (Thailand, here in America, Germany and Japan), and the opportunity to interact with different business units.

Henkel also strongly values diversity and inclusion. For example, women hold more than 33% of positions with business responsibility in the 3D-printing incubator. Moreover, we’re committed to sustainability and a circular economy— we’re aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations by 65% by 2025 and by 75% by 2030, and we want to become carbon positive by 2040.


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