In Full Transparency: Women in Leadership
March is Women’s History month, and while we recognize the amazing contributions of women all year, we’re celebrating this month by highlighting some of the women leaders at Workiva through our video series In Full Transparency: Women in Leadership. We aim to amplify women’s voices by giving them a place to share their experiences both inside and outside the workplace. Below, Lili Chua, Director of Marketing - Asia-Pacific shares her thoughts on mentorship, motherhood, and work-life balance.
Is there a person who gave you a unique opportunity early-on in your career? Tell us about them and what that opportunity did for you.
I had the privilege of working with two great mentors. Early in my career, I started as a systems engineer, dabbling with computer interface cards and software coding. My mentor saw the potential in me and encouraged me to join product marketing, and I’ve never looked back since then. The second mentor was my former managing director. He was a visionary leader who paved the way for me to grow, gave me the opportunity to create and expand my role, and was even open to adopting upward appraisals. He really helped me refine my leadership skills.
Tell us something everyone can do today to be an ally to women in the workplace?
I think a key component of allyship in the workplace is trust. Knowing that team members will look after one another, regardless of gender fosters a culture of belonging where everyone is empowered to reach their full potential. This is so important for both individuals and the company to be successful, that’s why trust is one of our guiding leadership principles at Workiva. Building that trust takes time. It’s something that is both given and earned, but you can start by listening more than you speak, empowering those around you to share their ideas and acting on feedback given to you.
Do you have to choose between career and motherhood? How do you balance both of these roles as part of your identity?
At some point, yes! It’s a choice for some but it’s not for others. To me, motherhood supersedes career. As a single mom for many years, I managed through both motherhood and my career. It was challenging and I had to forego certain opportunities. Many times I ask myself if I am doing enough, doing things correctly, and reflect on what I can do to be a better mother and a better boss. At the end of the day, my takeaway is to know the roles that you play at work and at home. Lean on family and friends for the much-needed support, it helps make the journey easier.
If you could thank one woman in your career who would that be and why?
That would be one of my best friends, an experienced Sales leader. Being new to the company at the time, it amazed me how she was constantly cheerful, energetic and authentic. She was always willing to share and impart her knowledge, not worrying that we might surpass her in our skillset or knowledge in any way. Her innate confidence, her willingness to lead by example and to provide me with advisory sessions where we chat about work matters, kids’ development stages and challenges, maneuvering through internal politics, health tips etc. made a difference. We all can truly benefit from such a mentor to watch us grow, point us in the right direction when we are lost, and give us the worst scenario to help us make better plans. Through her mentorship, I am a more balanced leader and I urge you to reach out to someone whom you look up to and create that connection!
If you could talk to your younger self, what is one thing you would tell them?
Time waits for no one! Whatever setback you face, you learn from it and you push forward! If you miss the boat, you don’t wait but start looking for the next boat. Once you board it, maximize your opportunity and give your best!