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For our event, Secrets of Their Success: Women in Media Tell Their Career Stories, we invited three panelists: Anne Wong, Director of Strategic Marketing at SCMP; Desiree Au, Publisher of Time Out Hong Kong and journalist and Ellana Lee, Managing Editor at CNN International Asia Pacific. Co-hosted with the FCC, Tara Joseph (FCC President – their first female pres) moderated. For more information on them, please view our previous blog here.

The hashtag for the event is #wmnstories.

The event is exciting for us, from the minute we walks in. “It’s a sexy crowd”, comments Au and another audience member says that since women love to hear about other women, the turn-out should be good. But for us, it’s the whole set-up – it’s almost like a wedding, with name place cards and refreshments laid out before we even arrive.

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Another pleasant surprise comes in the form of a group of Journalism students, who the FCC have allowed in for free. It’s great to see the cohesiveness of this, and I’m interested to hear their feedback afterwards. I hope one of the will write a blog of their experiences at the event. Afterwards, they interview HK Chapter President, Christina Pantin.

As the panel introduce themselves, Wong seems charming and confident. Au is funny and says she probably didn’t even deserve her first job in editorial – she’s modest. Lee says she suffered perpetual jetlag for three years after landing in Hong Kong because she landed on a Saturday and had to be at work by 1am, Sunday. But she knows how to motivate her team – who she likes managing – which is perhaps less usual for most journalists (managing things other than deadlines, I mean). She believes in investing in her team, which makes her sound like the perfect boss.

 

So, what makes work exciting for these ladies?

Wong: “News is a 24 hour business, it could be ideas or news, but the most exciting part of the day is when something new comes up.”

Lee: “Success is 99% good luck and 1% hard work – and I believe in that.” She tells a story of her first days at CNN when she had to ask an interviewee to explain some jargon. The interviewee was so annoyed that someone from CNN didn’t know this, that she hung up. It taught Lee that she always needs to do her homework and that the name CNN was probably why the interviewee had taken her call in the first place. There was a sense of responsibility.

“You will find mentors who will support you and help you get from A to B,” she says. At CNN she’s found her superiours around the region are supportive and willing to give advice. “Be willing to give more than just your job spec,” she says. Advice comes as an added service.

Au: “Life is about someone giving you a chance, like an interview and so on.” Au believes that the generosity of others has helped her, so that should be paid forward.

Wong adds that you should think beyond your job but think about the business and go further than just what your boss told you to do. For her, hard work is about 70% of success. “Chemistry is also important in your work place. Can your boss envision the ideas you have? Is your timing and environment right?” If not, she says you can’t push it further than that. Know when to tell yourself ‘it’s not happening, so move on’.

 

What are their experiences of being a woman in the workplace?

Lee: “My mother worked, in Korea, in the 80s. That was unusual. So my mindset is not really about being a women or a man, just walk in to the room, not thinking you have some deficit.”

Au: “In Hong Kong, I don’t feel like it matters so much if you’re a man or woman – if you break a story, you break a story.” She also thinks that we’re all equal, so when she hears women say “I have family commitments” well, men do too. Au also believes in assimilating. Despite working in an English language publication, Au speaks Chinese at work because her team is predominantly native speakers – and we are in Hong Kong – she feels that expats can likewise assimilate.

Wong: “Media is fairly even – it’s a case of making what you can of it. Various well-known companies do have women in top-level roles here”.

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Is journalism a dying career? Especially with social media, isn’t everyone a thought leader?

Lee encourages students to still go into journalism, because digital won’t end it. It might change the game, but it can be a part of reporting and of course, those platforms aren’t verified. People still want the truth. “It’s healthy for us to have the digital industry, it helps us reach people in far away places and it keeps us on our toes. Verify,” she adds. For the facts, people will still turn to the main, trustable news sources.

Au says that news is personal taste and we know who we want to hear our news from and that having these options helps people to be more interested and involved. People get to know what they want and look for that source. As someone who grew up in the UK, I prefer the BBC for everything, even Wimbledon commentary.

Wong adds that choice is making it better because the audiences know what they want.

Another question brings up quotas because the BBC had said that women should equal 50% of those dispatched to report.

Lee isn’t a fan but has never had to employ or dispatch journalists that way. Au also thinks it’s a dangerous game to play. “How can you put a system in place in an industry that changes every day? It’s about chemistry, not quotas.”

Wong relates to marketing and says “the idea that women and men should be 50-50 is perhaps more of a PR stunt than anything else.” But quotas can be good, she says. “The Women’s Foundation has a 30% quota for boards. If it changes the norm, then it’s not a bad thing.”

 

Is there a difference for women and men in journalism and are women too emotional?

Wong says “well, giving birth is emotional but we handle it quite well!” She adds that there are differences in genders which will change the chemistry and the story. “Women probably have a different emotional approach and reaction to men – a different EQ,” she adds.

Au thinks that men just have a different approach and are more results driven. But Lee, has never really thought about this before and says that empathy is important and perhaps women listen longer to find out what’s behind an interviewees feelings, behaviour and performance. “But in editorial discussions, everything counts. Your age also affects what you are thinking about or care about in your life, so that will be brought to the table when you do your job,” she explains.

 

What do you have to do to be everything you can be?

Wong: “Have faith in yourself and in others and in your future.”

Au: “Hard work and humility”

Lee: “The art of hiring is important. It’s instinctive and gut-driven. I have to think how that person will fit into our environment because every little detail counts so I need everyone in the team to do a good job,” she says, adding, “it’s important also to know you made a mistake and how to amend it.”

 

 

If you have thoughts, questions or readings to share in advance of the event, please talk to us via our social media accounts.

@wmnasiapacific

www.facebook.com/WMNAPAC

LinkedIn group

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We’re really looking forward to our first co-hosted event with the FCC here in Hong Kong, Secrets of Their Success: Women in Media Tell Their Stories. We’ve also had a fantastic response to it, so it seems that a lot of you want to hear the stories of these incredible women who are members of our local media industry.

So, here’s a short bio on each of them, so you can prepare any questions or thoughts before the event (#wmnstories), next Wednesday.

Anne Wong, Strategic Marketing, SCMP

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Anne has spent over 25 years in marketing, beginning her career in the UK in advertising before moving to Hong Kong in 1994, where she joined DDB. She then spent 12 years as the head of marketing for Disney’s theatrical movie distribution business, encompassing 12 countries in Asia Pacific, before moving to the Disney US headquarters to manage global theme park marketing strategy and planning and Disneyland alliance marketing.

Anne currently heads up marketing at the South China Morning Post, a position she has held for the past three and a half years. She writes a regular blog on marketing in the publishing industry for INMA and sits on the board for SOPA, and chairs the SOPA marketing committee.

 

Desiree Au, Publisher, Time out HK

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Desiree has spent over 15 years in Hong Kong media. She is currently the publisher of Time Out Hong Kong, part of an international network of city magazines covering 41 cities from London to New York to Dubai, as well as a communications consultant. She started her career from the ground up, working as a features reporter for the Hong Kong Standard, before becoming their youngest features editor at age 27.

Desiree then spent six years with the SCMP, holding the positions of Arts Editor, Post Magazine editor and launch editor of monthly glossy, STYLE. Concurrent with her position at Time Out Hong Kong, Desiree also writes for the International Herald Tribune and has a column in ELLE LUXE.

She was born in Hong Kong and educated in the US. She sits on three non-profit boards: Society of Publishers Asia, The Women’s Foundation, and The Ambassadors of Design.

Ellana Lee, Vice President and Managing Editor, CNN International Asia Pacific

ellEllana has had a longstanding and accomplished career at CNN, having initially worked in New York as a producer to help launch the program ‘In The Money’. She subsequently worked as a business producer and a senior planning producer, coordinating major events out of the Asia Pacific for the network.

Ellana Lee is based in the network’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong. As head of the network and its editorial output, her role encompasses managerial responsibility for news stories from across Asia Pacific that reach hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

In recognition of her work, Ellana’s awards include a 2008 Peabody Award for the network’s global coverage of the U.S presidential primary campaigns and debates and a 2005 DuPont award for CNN’s coverage of the South Asian tsunami. She.was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and is an Asia 21 fellow, awarded by the Asia Society. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. For CNN she has been awarded the Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year, 2012 and Cable and Satellite Network of the Year and Cable and Satellite Channel of the Year at the 2011 Asian Television Awards.

We look forward to seeing you there.