Tag Archives: Mia Saini

I came across Women Media Networks when doing research for my own site, The Modern Bitch, in August 2012. At that point I thought it would be a dream to be part of WMN and eight months later I was given the opportunity to attend an event in celebration of International Women’s Day.
One thing that inspired me to create a site for young women in Hong Kong was a TED Talk by Tavi Gevinson, a teen blogger who discussed feminism and how she was still figuring things out. Feminism has always been something close to my heart and since I was a child, I’ve always looked up to women and had female role models whether it be lead singers in bands or successful women in the corporate world.
In the UK, where I grew up, teen pregnancy is high and many of my friends weren’t aiming high or thinking about their future. When I entered my early teens I started to become very ambitious and knew that a career was something I wanted and family would come later. By the time I graduated and an opportunity came along in the form of Hong Kong, I knew it was a calling and I had to push past my worries and fears. Two years on I have a stable job that I enjoy and continue to think about my future in terms of career first and family later.
The discussion started straight at the root, as the panel asked each other if women could really have it all? I personally believe that women can, but not everything will be in balance all the time. It also depends on the definition of  ’having it all’ as this differs for everyone. Most of the room agreed.
My version of having it all from a basic definition would be having a successful career while having a family at the same time. One thing I took away is that the definition is difficult to simplify because all kinds of complexities come into family and career such as, whether you have your own business – and how big it is – how big your family is, whether you’re a single parent… the list goes on.
Bobbi Campbell touched on the point that you have to be really good at what you do in order to have the right to tell people you’re leaving at 5.30pm and will be unavailable for certain hours. I completely agree. It involves years of hard work and staying late to work your way up to the top, which in turn makes you really good at what you do. This isn’t always easy for women who aren’t necessarily at the top and after doing a little research on Marissa Mayer and Yahoo!, it’s clear that having understandable employers who support your choice of working and raising a family is something that is vital in having balance.
Doubt is one of the biggest problems that I face while trying to succeed in work and managing my side projects. It was a relief when Mia Saini mentioned this and an even bigger relief when other women agreed. Confidence is something that I have struggled with from time to time and I had a lot of doubts when creating my website, especially over the name. I overcame this by using my instincts and asking myself, what’s the worst that can happen?
It was great to hear advice from Bobbi regarding checking a company’s culture before working there and she stressed the importance of being comfortable asking co-workers for help. It was reassuring to learn that some women have key influencers to aspire to, which helps them overcome the fear of asking.
Letting go of some control over your work and allowing others to step in was also a big talking point and Chris Bowers mentioned having to allow her staff to handle things for her after having twins. I thought about this and considered it a challenge in the future for me personally as I like to be in control of every little detail and think that other ambitious women might feel the same way. Bowers also mentioned that she met with personal development coaches to better herself in order to better her business. That is definitely something to take on board. Other people help you grow.
Towards the end of the discussion, Shea Stanley and others panel members talked about the future and what can be done now, to help change the stereotypical view of mothers. It’s important to educate children on equality and leading by example by sharing chores between the parents, so the mother isn’t doing it all and they don’t see just mum doing it all. There is also some advice for younger women in that they shouldn’t worry about the future or planning family. Just focus on pursuing something you love and figure out how family will fit in later on. Not only that, but do not doubt yourself. Just own it!
One of the main things that I can relate to and take away from the discussion is that women are still trying to figure it out. None of the women in the room that day had all the answers or a 101 on how to have a career and family at the same time. What I felt inspired by is that strong and successful women have come together to discuss this. I may have a long way to go in building a career for myself, but I learnt a lot during that discussion and I think it’s very important to expose younger women to these discussions to ensure the lives and roles of women continue to progress healthily.

Read more from Beth’s blog, The Modern Bitch.
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All too often we hear the words “you can have it all”, particularly when we see high-powered women, such as Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) claiming success in juggling both work and family (while building her own nursery at the office). Can we really have it all, or are we really kidding ourselves?
Before the event, WMN Founder and panelist Bobbi Campbell said, “I think we’ve come a long way towards equal rights, but there’s a very long way to go with regards to providing the infrastructure to support women who want successful careers and quality time with family.”
Our panelists included:
  • Bobbi Campbell, Founder of WMN, COO of The Red Flag Group and mother of two
  • Chris Bowers, event organizer, Founder of The Underground, rock goddess and mother of twins
  • Shea Stanley, co-founder & Chief Executive Insider of LittleStepsAsia.com and mother of two.
Moderating them was Bloomberg News Presenter Mia Saini, currently pregnant with her first child.
The event hastag was #wmndecon
“What does having it all mean?” asks Siani at the beginning of the event.
“What are your priorities?” questions Shea. If you have your priorities perhaps you can have it all – just not at the same time, she says. But yes, family, children etc do make it harder to take care of all the things that matter to you. Campbell admits that after getting married, her Blackberry become an annoying distraction. And now, she has two kids. When she founded WMN, she didn’t have such responsibilities.
When entrepreneur Bowers had children, she learned that she had to let people help her and let go of some of the control.
Campbell hated relenting control. Being 34 weeks pregnant and told she couldn’t fly was something that annoyed her. At the airport, fighting for her right to fly, she was shown a piece of paper showing that the airport authorities considered her to be ‘disabled’.
Stanley started her own business before she had children, because she thought it would be a better way for her to manage ‘having it all’. But as she points out, there are times, running your business, that you need to work til 4am and suddenly it seems better to pay someone else to outsource for you.
It’s true that you work harder and longer hours when you run your own business – I do, and I’m happier. But I don’t have children (or a dog, yet). On top, you do things that you wouldn’t have to do if you worked for the man. And when you take time off, you do end up having to make up for it later or lose jobs, clients and income.
But most people do work for the man, as Siani points out. So what can corporations do to help women with children? Or what do they do that doesn’t help?
The women all throw out experiences here. They always give you a look if you walk in late because the kids are sick. Recruiters don’t think you are presentable when you walk into an interview pregnant. So there are clear challenges here, despite supposed ‘understanding’ from the man.
Sometimes people think that going part time or working from home will be a good compromise and be better, but is it? Campbell admits to questioning whether she could do it all. And as Stanley points out, some jobs don’t allow for work-life balance. Bowers says that she had to question the same thing of herself. With her own business she recently discovered that she had to find her own advice about how to manage her course at work. Loving what she does, she is happy to be daring.
What is the culture you have as a corporate company? Campbell is responsible for building that culture at her own company. She believes that Google got it right for a long time. “Breed a culture of connections, and people will voice their thoughts. Managers should help staff; individuals succeed and you get productivity,” she advises.
Do you have to take on male roles in order to get things done? One audience member says that it’s important to think about these things when you pick a partner. Her husband is the one who takes their kids to the doctor. There’s a lot of letting go too, let dad do it his way and don’t nag.
If you work in a highly male-dominated industry, it is really difficult to slip back into work after having children. Siani admits that she left the banking industry because there were no women higher up the chain whose lives and work she wanted to replicate. Ex CFO of Lehman Bothers, Erin Callan, admitted in her book that she probably couldn’t have done that job, if she’d had kids.
Siani reminds us not to compare ourselves to others, because having it all has no set parameters. Apply your own meaning to it. Think ahead and consider where you’re heading because most corporations don’t care about your family. And if it’s a start-up, then you might also find that you can’t put family first.
Having it all is something you have to own. What does that mean to you? If you require a strong personal network of support, create it. If you need a great husband who can help with kids, look for that in a partner.
Campbell’s husband travels a lot. Her company understand that from 5.30-7.30 she is unavailable because she has to spend time with the kids. After that, she’s back online doing work. Her boss seems to be ok with that, but being good at what you do makes it easier for the boss to allow you to be human.
Of course, there are lots of single mothers out there too. So how can they be helped? Things like having a friend offer a play date or coming over to visit and talk with you can help.
With so many discussion points, ideas and thoughts, there just isn’t enough time at breakfast to cover this fascinating topic. But what was great, was that there were  a handful of men in the room. And that the conversation did turn to discuss partners and sharing responsibilities. After all, Having it All shouldn’t mean Having it All, All by Yourself, All on Your Own – should it?
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On November 1st, 2012, Bloomberg kindly hosted the Women Media Networks Media Disruptors lunch event, Changing the Rules of the Game.

With Moderator Mia Saini, News Presenter for Bloombergand panelists Emma Reynolds (Co-founder & CEO of e3-Reloaded), Joanne Ooi (Plukka.com) and Mariko Sanchanta (news presenter, Wall St Journal (WSJ)), we were set for an exciting discussion.

From the start, Saini disrupted the audience by taking a question and answer approach, creating audience interaction throughout. Saini’s wit and humour kept the conversation focused, fast-moving and entertaining.

 

 


 

“To engineer a disruption, the consumers will take time to catch up – be dynamic enough to roll with it, have back-up plans, re-iterate with your consumer,” advises Ooi near the beginning of the discussion.

 

 

“To keep innovating is to go back to the core of the disruptive mindset. Look at all areas, sales, engineering, consumer needs, etc. It’s an art, you cultivate it on a daily basis,” adds Reynolds.

 

 

“Yes, you have to throw your ego out of the window - you might have to throw great ideas away in being realistic, to keep a healthy directions,” adds Oi.

 

 

Coming from WSJ, Sanchanta has other comments. “Now we understand what our readers look at on our site, we’ve added a tool on the page to show how many people are reading which pieces. It’s push and pull, on whether it’s a core story that we’re promoting there or whether we want to up our reader numbers. The WSJ Asia team is quite autonomous, so we do try things out and when they don’t work out, we move on.” She describes an ego and agenda-free scenario.

 

 

We all know that in large companies, it takes a long time for new ideas to get to the top management - and by then, the world moves on. So what do you do? “You have to think like a small company,” says Reynolds.

 

 

Highlighting that is the fact that some of the best online or mobile payment companies are not headed by the main credit card companies, as you’d expect. Moreover, those payment companies cut out the middleman and have great interfaces, Reynolds observes. Her favourite example is https://squareup.com/, which allows mobile phones to take credit card payment.

 

 

As an executive, or someone less up-to-date with modern advances, what do you do when you’re left behind? Consultant Reynolds finds that sometimes her clients are those executives that have been left behind by disruption. “We can’t afford to wait around so we work out which companies we deal with well.”

 

 

Ooi reminds us of the danger of egos, getting in the way. “We have to be strong enough to walk away and move on. I don’t mean that some clients understand disruption immediately, but we can see if they’re open to it. Then we move forward and identify the problems. That helps the clients to open up and want to change. We focus on problems first not solutions, that keeps their interest. Things are different now, the power is with the masses, not the few at the top,” she observes.

 

 

Quantifiable statistics, defining working culture, looking at more realistic and regular performance reviews and crowd-sourcing ideas within the workplace are the kinds of activities that Reynolds works around.

 

“At WSJ, we’re always teaching our readers how to do things – many don’t know how to Tweet and so on,” explains Sanchanta. In Reynolds’ experience, men in their fifties are often strong ambassadors of learning new techniques and embracing modern technology and social media.

 

 

Disruption doesn’t come from the bottom, says Ooi. It comes from strong individuals – the power of the individual is vital. “If you can’t get that in your organisation, you hire people like Emma!” she quips.

 

 

Sanchanta says that as a woman in a male dominated industry, she is more of a disruptor, because she stands out at the meeting table.

 

 

Let’s look more closely at media. “As a traditional print media, we don’t easily embrace new technologies and people are sceptical. But we decided to do online videos, because it was something different,” says Sanchanta. “At first, it was awful but we got better and it works because most people are willing to go on camera.” Meanwhile, companies like Goldman Sachs have embraced Twitter, something that surprises former employee, Saini.

 

 

China has its own disruptive mindset. Saini’s husband travels to China for work regularly, and often, finds that her feeds are cut – the screen goes black a millisecond after she appears. But WSJ is one publication that has managed to remain online in China. “We don’t let it affect our content but if we’re reporting on a government we always make contact and ask direct questions,” says Sanchanta.

 

 

Being an entrepreneur in the disruption world doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be rich. Perhaps embracing the failures is part of the process? Reynolds’ first company, in the UK, went bankrupt during the financial crisis. “I lost everything,” she says, without regret.

 

 

Industries that might not have yet been disrupted yet,include financial advice services. One audience member thinks this will change in the next 5-10 years, but other changes have to happen behind that. Australia has already moved toward full disclosure; the UK has also made some changes.

 

 

Another main industry that needs change and disruption is education. Adult learning and life-long learning are key words here. Freer, low-cost education that’s internationally available seems like a dream. But education is getting more expensive year-on-year and good teachers and professors are still vital and need paying well. One audience member suggests that you can disrupt the system and still pay well.

 

 

Final words of advise
“I never thought ten years ago I’d do online video and Tweet. Just keep adapting, leaning and stay on top of the trends. We’re all so busy but I always try to read, learn and talk to people.” – Sanchanta

 

“Use the 4C DNA: Collaboration, co-creation, controlling, connecting. If you don’t see those four things, it needs disrupting.” – Reynolds

 

“Our inputs are very Googlised – we need to supplement that. Sip from the fire hydrant every day – eventually you’ll have a disruptive thought.” – Ooi

 

 

 

 

 

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