Category Archives: Career Blog


Our Gender Bender discussion panel saw a great topic being openly discussed, with a fantastic input from our audience members (thanks) and one of the most balanced population we’ve had at an even (guys, you’re always welcome). We discussed the roles of parents, men and women, who should stay at home, how the Hong Kong helps and disables us with role changes, how employers react and behave and what we can hope for in the future.

To recap some of the points made, here is our #wmniwd stream of live Tweets, from the event:


No regrets, say the Chinese women who chose independence over marriage. The girls who took a lifelong vow of chastity are now in their 80s, the last survivors of a unique custom

Her mother carefully undid Liang Jieyun’s plaits, combed out the strands and pinned them into a bun. When her friends put up their hair, they wore the red clothing of brides. But as Liang left her girlhood behind and stepped across the family threshold, she was embarking on a lifelong commitment to remain single.

At 85, Liang is a rare survivor of a custom stretching back to the early 19th century in parts of southern Guangdong. Women here could vow to remain a “self-combed woman”, or zishunü, leaving their parents’ home to work without marrying. “If I hadn’t become a ‘self-combed woman’, the landlord would have forced me into marriage,” she said.

(Read the rest here)

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

I loved this piece, it was something I hadn’t heard about before. 

When I came across this article in The Guardian, I couldn’t believe that I had never heard about this tradition before. These are women who gave up the chance (which might not be a good one) of marriage in order to remain single and to work and support their families for their entire lives. While it sounds like a sacrifice, the piece in The Guardian shows that for many, given the era, it was a form of liberation. There are few such women alive still today and if you Google it, you will find some other articles but no Wikipedia page (which shows how unknown this tradition is, if you ask me!).


I had to share this with my fellow WMN organisers. It’s like a historical take on the having it all issue, of course, these women sacrificed having it all, really, in order to have more than they might if they married (because marriages then weren’t formed the way they commonly are now!).


Our ex Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin was excited by the article and shared this with us:


“What a touching article.


We were fortunate to have had during our childhood and into teenaged years an “amah” called “Lau Cher”, who was not single but was a widow who chose to have her 2 children raised by relatives in Penang while she was our live in housekeeper in KL. She sent money faithfully every month to support her children, and very sadly, they resented their mother for not raising them, and she spent her last days with them not being very loving to her after she left our family.


Lau Cher exemplified the women in the article – denying herself any comforts (she dressed in “black and white” amah uniform), and I remember going with her during her monthly trips downtown to send money to her children, when as a treat she would buy a wonton noodle lunch for herself and me.


How strong women are! It’s very encouraging to remember this!”

If you have any stories to share on topics like these, please get in touch!


This blog was guest written by an adorable, energetic and sweet friend of mine. I had no idea that this woman, who works for our sponsor, Turner, was also into stage performances! So, when she told me one Sunday that she was working on a play about maids who want to kill their boss, of course I wanted to go! Then, she told me that the two lead roles of the maids were written to be performed by men, a wish that had rarely been carried out. Ok, now she really had my interested. And then the other conversation came up – how does she do that, and her full time job? Can she have it all?

– Vickie, WMN




Having a full time job in Television, like most jobs in Hong Kong really, means long hours. And in a competitive environment like ours it also means a lot of mental energy invested towards that job.

I chase a career, which I love, spend time with my husband and go to the gym sporadically. I could consider myself underachieving, compared to women who are doing it all. Those marathon-running, brownie-baking, soccer-mum, investment bankers. And that’s usually ok.

I write usually, because there is a part of me that lies untapped that I wish I had time to expand on. A part that is too exhausted to get up and do it. And that’s my love of theater and more importantly my love of directing for stage. Owning the stage is a part of me, an integral core of ‘me’.

The stage is my medium of expression and art. I see the space and shape of a stage and think of a script. ‘Could I perform

here?’ I see actors and think ‘how can I mold them?’ I see spot lights and imagine them cast as shadows. I see the empty seats and think ‘how can I engage the audience?’

But my full time job means I can never do justice to a script. To perform a script is to live, breathe and feel the script . And as a director it becomes all-consuming.

I had nearly given up on my dream to direct, when a month back, the phone rang and out of the blue I got an offer to co-direct a script. Sometimes when the opportunity to live your dream appears in front of you, don’t rationalise or evaluate, just jump right in. I jumped in and said YES. And then rather belatedly remembered I hadn’t asked what the piece was which is not the deep thinking director I thought myself to be. Content is King and Script is Prime.

And then a panic stricken realisation that I had said YES to an insanely short timeline to put together a performance for the public!

Don’t think, just make a commitment and move ahead to make it happen.

Lucky for me the script turned out to Jean Genet’s classic The Maids. And the most intriguing thing about this play is the fact that Genet wanted the two female leads to be played by men.

As the protagonists perform their roles, they also role-play. They act out their anger, their frustration and play-act their murderous plot. Through this maze of truth and lies, the audience is forever reminded that something is being performed for them. The illusion of reality is broken.





















I spent very real days at my desk at work and then surreal evenings directing female roles forgetting our actors were men. Weekends spent discussing hair and make-up, costumes and props.

I am sleep deprived but feel like I have run a marathon too. I did it all in my universe.

As the play opens in November, I will feel like a proud mother. Whatever the outcome, its my baby and she is amazing!


The Maids runs from November 6th-9th at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. To book tickets to see The Maids, contact Urbtix


Tina is Associate Director Sponsorship and Promotions – Creative Brand Solutions at Turner International Asia Pacific Limited. Follow Tina’s blog.



If you have thoughts, questions or readings to share, please talk to us via our social media accounts.


LinkedIn group

That there are not enough women working in higher up and management roles is a topic that keeps coming up – while in Hong Kong, we know from various studies how shockingly few women there are in the workforce, especially after child-bearing age, this is an issue all around.

This post, found on iMedia Connection, covers some important points and notes that this issue (notably in ad tech – and let’s face it, all tech industries including engineering) is not just a Hong Kong or Asia issue.




There is a clear gender imbalance in ad tech, especially at the senior level. Here’s how women can begin to flourish in the industry.

As an exciting, challenging, and constantly evolving sector, the ad tech industry has changed the way online advertising operates, attracting the brightest minds and spawning a wealth of innovative businesses. The result is an industry in which everyone wants to work. Yet despite all this dynamism, there is a distinct lack of women in the industry, especially at the senior level.




This issue actually starts well before the workplace even factors in. Although test scores and grades show that women are strong in mathematics and science throughout grade school and high school, when it comes to degree courses, women are significantly under-represented in engineering and computer science. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, fewer than 14 percent of computer science degrees are earned by women. This means the lack of females is much more than just an industry issue. The challenge lies in attracting more women to college engineering departments.

While this challenge won’t be solved overnight, the lack of female engineers and computer scientists has a direct impact on the ad tech industry. Because the majority of companies in this space began as innovative, small technology startups driven by engineers, there is a male-specific bias at the senior level that has been inherent in this sector from the start. Furthermore, the additional time demands and commitment levels associated with working for a startup are often greater than those of a more established business, which could also impact the willingness of women with families to join the industry. Finally, the fact that many of these startups are funded by venture capitalists or angel investors — another male-dominated sector — further perpetuates the issue, as most board members and advisors tend to be men.


While it might seem like the odds are stacked against women in ad tech, it’s important to realize that working in this industry and being a good wife and mother are not mutually exclusive. Women should not have to choose one or the other. This false assumption deprives the industry of very talented individuals, especially when women feel they cannot return after maternity leave because the demands of the company don’t support them when their priorities have shifted to support a healthier work-life balance.

For women who are concerned about not being able to dedicate enough hours to the job, they must understand that when it comes to the working day, less can actually mean more. It’s not possible to equate hours spent at work with output, so if someone is in the office for 12 hours per day, it does not mean they are more effective than someone who is there for seven. What matters is how you control and use this time. It’s important to realize that you are in control of your calendar and success. Rather than leaving your calendar open, use it to book time for key activities such as researching, brainstorming, and keeping up-to-date with the industry — even booking days to leave early in order to spend time with the family — and then stick to your plan (within reason of course). Although it might mean less time in the office than male colleagues, it can also lead to an increase in productivity. Focusing on priorities can make people far more efficient with their time in the office.

For women who do reach a senior level, you must ensure that the key skills you bring to the business are not suppressed, as the response to operating in a male-dominated environment is often to “de-feminize” in an attempt to fit in and be “one of the guys.” Our advice is to reject this premise, realize it’s unnecessary, and understand that it’s a pressure you put on yourself, not something your male co-workers are forcing on you. Have the confidence to accept that you’re different from your male colleagues, and remain true to yourself by using your own skills to add value to the business. This is especially important in a leadership role where authenticity is critical. You must mean what you say and say what you mean in order to gain trust and respect from your team, partners, and clients.

One trick we’ve learned from our male colleagues is to be sure the right people know about our career aspirations. Men are more forthright about articulating their successes and stating exactly where they want their careers to lead. Women can often be more passive, and if you don’t communicate to your boss what you want from your career, he or she might assume you do not want increased responsibilities and the additional pressures they bring. As a result, you could be overlooked for career advancement opportunities, even if you are the most qualified person for the role. Speak up from the start, and make sure people clearly know what you want from your career.

As well as being more vocal, when it comes to technology, you can never be too inquisitive. This is critical to anyone’s success. Overcome any fears you have and “dive into the technology.” Sit down with the experts and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Push people to explain things in a way that you can understand and ingest. The more deeply you can understand things, the more valuable you can be to your company.


Having more women in senior leadership roles will help address the lack of women in the industry for a number of reasons. First, they can become role models and mentors for other females as they overcome the obstacles traditionally associated with balancing home and work lives successfully. Women in senior roles can relate to the challenges facing other women who are entering the ad tech industry. At the same time, when it to comes to building effective and functioning teams, female bosses are less likely to consider the potential family aspirations of a female employee and will focus instead on what that person can add to the team and whether she is the right person for the job.

Over time, the ad tech industry will change for the better, and this will happen faster if we can incorporate more women in positions of true leadership and influence. It’s important for companies to encourage women to fully understand and maximize their potential while also developing a culture that supports a work-life balance. Women bring different skills and strengths than men, which can make organizations more holistic and resilient. Companies suffer when they lose valuable, skilled employees, as often happens when, for example, women choose not to return to this industry after they have children, or they stop looking for leadership opportunities because they feel discouraged.

We all passionately believe the ad tech industry offers a dynamic environment that can create enormous opportunities for women to imagine, create, and lead, and we cannot see ourselves working anywhere else. We must all work together to ensure we can attract and nurture more women in the industry who feel the same.

Denise Colella is president at Maxifier.

Nicolle Pangis, president at Real Media Group, and Maureen Little, senior vice president of business development at Turn, contributed to this article.



This article was originally posted here.



Please follow us on our social media platforms, to really get the conversation going.


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The Modern Bitch is a small but noteable blog run by a young English woman based in Hong Kong. Her posts vary quite widely, with women in mind. I tweeted this link out, but I think it’s good to have some insight here for our younger audiences as well.


TMB says:


This can be one of the most stressful and confusing decisions to make because everyone’s different. If you’re one of those people who have always known that a career in medicine or law was the path you wanted to take (and you have a passion for it), then great, you’re sorted!

For those of you who have never thought about what you want to do or where you want to be until it’s come to choosing classes in school, or having the careers talk, or have even ended up in an industry that you don’t enjoy working in, then don’t worry, TMB might be able to help in a small way! This can also apply to those of you who may want to study an evening course while working full-time, or even choose a different career path completely (it’s not against the law to do that).

Read the rest here.


Please discuss your thoughts with us:


LinkedIn group





A topic which is always close to our hearts at WMN is ‘Can women have it all?’.

It’s a topic that has been high in debate of late, from looking at how Marissa Mayer’s career and move to Yahoo! and then announcing she was pregnant, to our events surrounding disruption and of course, the discourse created by Anne Marie Slaughter in the US. (Check that link, there are reams of articles that are relevant to you).

Our Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin is someone who’s very intrigued and dedicated to this debate, she regularly shares articles that she’s read about the debate and looking at how we can use this to advise and inspire our WMN members.

AmCham HK is hosting an event in March, around this issue. To warm us up, here’s an extract of an interview with Anne Marie Slaughter, with some background to the discussion.

Anne-Marie Slaughter on women, work and Washington

by Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter November 7, 2012


The Princeton professor and former State Department official discusses her take on leadership and work-life balance.


FORTUNE — In what felt like a knockdown, drag out election season, we heard plenty about the problems in Washington and improving the lives of American women. As a foreign policy professor and a woman who has worked in Washington, Anne-Marie Slaughter knows these issues all too well.


Slaughter currently teaches at Princeton, but last year, she ended a two-year term as the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department. She was previously dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


Slaughter also, suddenly, reignited the perennial debate among working women this past summer after she wrote an article in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” She spoke with Fortune about leadership in Washington and why women should not blame themselves if they are struggling to balance work and family.


An edited transcript is below.


Fortune: You’ve been a dean and you’ve worked in the State Department. How do you lead differently in academia versus in the government?


Anne-Marie Slaughter: Well, my one-liner is that in academia, you’re rewarded for coming up with a really big idea that has only your name on it, but in Washington, you’re rewarded for cutting big ideas into little ideas and getting other people to think they thought of them. It’s an old adage in Washington that you can get anything done if you don’t want to take credit for it, and it is true.


But the real difference is Washington is the politics. I don’t know if the politics are fiercer but they’re different. I had to watch my back a lot more.


People were out to get you?


They certainly are very happy to cut you out. It’s just the way the town tends to work. It’s not a place that rewards team collaboration very often.


But I had to send very different signals, and I did. I would actually tell my people, “look, success is not having defended our turf, success is having gotten our ideas adopted.”


Were you rewarded for achieving your definition of success?


There are a number of projects that I am just enormously proud of having been part of, but my fingerprints are often not on them. It’s just the way it has to be. You know and your team knows, and inside, the Secretary will give you credit if she can, but by and large, it’s about a larger goal.


So how do you convince yourself to do major projects when your name isn’t on the work?


That is where I think being an academic really helped. I knew at some point I was coming back here. I have an outside life and an outside identity that many people inside don’t have.


I also made a choice early on that I wanted to be able to look back and have achieved one big thing. So I volunteered for this Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review which was a real bear because it had never been done before it involves putting state and aid agencies together and it was a huge process headache and a lot of people didn’t want to get anywhere near it.


Did that work? Does it hold up?


Yeah, it does. In fact, I often get students who say they want to get a job with some initiative or office that the QDDR was part of and I feel just enormously proud. I feel like, “yeah we did that, and it’s going to have a real impact.”


How should people think about leadership if they truly want to work across agencies and cultures, like you did for that project?


I would say it’s the difference between being at the top of the ladder or the center of the web. Power is whom you bring together and how you bring them together and what you enable. You are still exercising power, but it is a much more empowering kind of power.


And how, if at all, has your role as a female leader change after you wrote the article in the Atlantic?


Ah. Well, it certainly added an agenda to a life that was pretty full. Hanna Rosin has said I’m the woman who left the State Department to spend more time with my children and then I wrote an article about it, so it means I’ll never see my children again. I did not, of course, expect it to take over my life.


But I felt a sense of responsibility that is just part of being a teacher, a mentor, a mother — just somebody who looks after other people. And people tell me every single day how much they’ve talked about it, what a difference it made.


When I read it, I just thought, “thank God I’m not crazy.”


That’s one of the things that makes it worth it for me — so many women were out there thinking it was their fault. Many have had to make compromises they didn’t expect to make and they feel like failures and they’re not failures, it’s the system.


We have not enabled people to have children and be with those children and still stay on the career track in ways that allow them to rise over the course of a lifetime.


Somewhere along the line, we got to a place where saying, “I’m choosing not to accept the promotion because I want to spend more time with my children” is regarded as some kind of weakness or unprofessionalism, and that’s very bad for society as a whole.


When I sort of ripped it open, everybody was like, “Whoa, I’m not alone.”




AmCham HK is hosting Male-Female Differences at Work on March 12th at 8am which we think will be an interesting debate in the lead up to our next event on March 26th, Deconstructing the having it all myth (#wmndeconstructing)

The ‘fit’ between gender and the different stages in an organisation’s ‘lifecycle’ will be used to illustrate that it’s very unlikely that the same individual will be successful leading an organisation throughout its entire ‘life’.

The implications of this research for corporate careers and corporate success will be presented, as well as some development implications.
All attendees will be encouraged to complete a questionnaire beforehand to compare results with Selby & Mills research findings at the event.
Dr. Colin Selby is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with a PhD in Business Management. He has extensive consulting experience in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. He has taught at Manchester University, London Business School and the Open University. He has been an executive member of the Division of Occupational Psychology of the British Psychological Society with special responsibility for public & international relations for the profession. Dr. Selby is responsible for Client service and relations, product development and consulting. In 2010 he was shortlisted for Occupational Psychologist of the year in the UK.



As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Please contact us if you’d like to write a blog, or join the conversations on social media:


LinkedIn Group 



When I first read this article, I thought it was going to be about pitching to new clients – to win business. It’s not really, to me it’s more useful as an internal tool but perhaps I’d always consider not making the client look stupid before I open my mouth.

That said, the piece might still be useful to some of you, especially those accused of lacking tact or those who are just starting out in their careers.

Thanks to iMedia Connection for their useful blogs.



Digital marketers spend a lot of time pitching new ideas — to their clients, to their bosses, to their own teams. And that’s a good thing. New ideas are what make this industry such an interesting place to be.



That said, for an industry that revolves around the art of the pitch, some of us are quite bad at it. We say inappropriate things. We stick our feet in our mouths. We back ourselves into corners. We put other people in the room on the defensive.



Whether you’re trying to sell a client on an innovative marketing concept or introducing a new idea to your internal team, the words you use are vital. And saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can shut down a roomful of open minds in an instant.



If you’re trying to sell your great idea, don’t let these words come out of your mouth.


Read the rest here.



Writing tips are always interesting – some even conrtadict others, though many are repeated, like write all the time, write every day, practice your trade.


But the most interesting are those from renowned, famous writers, especially those we know from the literary field.

Gifted writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Anton Chekhov worked according to certain tenets of the craft. Here are some favorites.

Just because you’re writing blogs or website content doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few things from the great writers of yesteryear. In looking at the tips below, you might be surprised at how relevant and timely their advice can be.

Here are 10 ways to improve your writing, online or otherwise:

1. Write, write, write.

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” —Ray Bradbury

You know what they say, “If you want to be a writer, write!” What applies to novels and newspaper columns also applies to the Web: The more you practice, the better you become. Keep churning out content, refining as you go, learning what works and what doesn’t. Over time, your content will improve.

Read the rest here.

Lots of people have social media accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook, but they don’t always know the right way to use each one. And they are different, so should be treated and approached differently. After all, who wants to give a potential employee access to their Facebook page? That’s what LinkedIn is for.

Here’s a re-post from Firebrand Blog with some tips for those using LinkedIn.


Almost everyone I’m in contact with through business is on LinkedIn these days (and if you’re not, you should be). It’s a brilliant, professional, online business networking site and a place where you’re expected to promote yourself through your own profile and other areas of the site. Having said that, I consistently hear people moaning about a number of things that their connections do that really annoys them.

Since my post on 18 things you should not do on Twitter was so well received, I thought I’d share my candid thoughts on what you should avoid on LinkedIn.

Read the rest here.


UEST If someone told me when I was in university that I would one day work in social media I probably would have laughed.  In fact, my father’s response to me working in social media “so do you just sit around on Facebook all day?”

He remembers my early teenage years when I spent more time on ICQ than I did doing my homework. I think he spent many sleepless nights worrying that I would never get into university or get a ‘real’ job.


Little did we both realise at the time, but by 2012 most professionals would barely be able to survive without social media.


We’re now at a point where Google basically serves as your unofficial CV. Before you walk into a meeting, an interview, the office of your newly hired boss or a blind date, the person waiting on the other end is likely to have already Googled you, read your Linkedin profile and checked out a few of your tweets. I’m pretty sure this behaviour has progressed from online stalking, to somewhat socially acceptable.


One of the most effective ways to control that ‘first’ impression is to be in control and aware of how you’re representing yourself in social media. I think the same approach we take for brands can be applied to defining our own social presence:



  1. Define clearly what you’re looking to achieve. Do you want to be a thought leader in a particular area? Are you looking to learn more from industry experts? Are you looking to recruit new talent, or just network with similar professionals in your city? Are you looking to promote your own small business to a wider audience?
  2. What platforms can best support that objective. Once you’ve locked down what you want to do, the next step is looking at what platforms can best help you achieve that in the geography you’re trying to operate in.

    Here in Hong Kong, at 83.13% penetration of the online population, Facebook is king, but great for keeping up with people you already know, or for promoting a brand or business. If you want to branch out and really build your personal-professional network, Twitter, Instagram and are a great way to build relationships with like-minded individuals.

    Though Twitter often gets a bad rap in Hong Kong for not having a huge number of followers (somewhere around 100K+ only, compared to over 4m on Facebook and 2m on Sina Weibo), what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in power users

  3. Use those platforms in a way that best reflects the persona you want to project.  When looking at brands’ activity in the social space, we talk a lot about the ‘brand idea’ and then how that identity is translated through different channels through ‘brand behaviour.’ The same is true for how we should approach our individual ‘brands,’ so we need to define what our key interests/ areas of ownership are and build from there to determine how we will and won’t behave in social media. For example, my personal interest areas are in social media, creativity and China, so I build all my personal and professional social content around this.

    This also helps to provide a basis for what platforms I select to be active on and what role I decide to play on them – an important consideration in the age of a-new-social-platform-per-day. For me, the best place to learn and share social media news is on Twitter, where all my fellow social media geeks hang. For creativity, I love visually driven platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. I’ll turn to Weibo and Mainland Chinese blogs to keep up to speed with what’s happening in China.

  4. Learning & optimising – always. Digital and social presences are meant to live – not die. This is an important thinking for people active in social – either professionally or personally. When we build something in the online space we have to constantly evaluate and learn from our activities in order to improve and evolve over time.  That’s why it’s important to take risks and learn from them, emulate social media superstars, and keep up with the latest news to keep a step ahead.


About the author:

Jocelyn Liipfert is the Head of Social Media at TBWA\Digital Arts Network and runs the Social media Arts (SmArts) Lab for Greater China. Her work is primarily focused on developing and implementing social media strategies for international fashion brands across the region. Jocelyn was responsible for bringing Social Media Week to Asia, and is a co-founder of monthly social media networking group, HKSocial.

She has been interviewed by Bloomberg Asia, The Wall Street Journal Asia and South China Morning Post to comment on various topics in digital and social media.