March 8 is International Women’s Day, an annual global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. At Polycom, we have so many inspirational women making an impact both at Polycom and in communities around the world. In honour of the women at Polycom, we’ve decided to highlight just a few who make an incredible impact to our business in Asia Pacific. Find out what this day means to them, who they are inspired by, and more!
Chloe Kim, Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia & Korea
Although International Women’s Day isn’t celebrated significantly in Korea, I think it’s a meaningful day and will try to make it special because I don’t really have time to think about myself in hectic daily life. I’m a mother, wife and employee, with a very busy schedule every day, but at least I can mark this occasion through taking perspective of my varying roles! My hope is that the South Korean government and enterprises will also take more interest in observing this special day.
For me, the biggest challenge for women in the workplace is balancing the responsibilities of work and life, especially being a good mother! Men and women have different sense of obligation about taking care of children and expectations are also different about it, but these attitudes haven’t changed much in Korea. Sometimes women need flexibility in working hours and locations, but most organisations don’t understand it well. For this, I feel grateful to have a job which allows me flexibility – although my house is pretty far from the office and I have to attend to my son, I work from home 2-3 days a week and am able to stay connected to my colleagues here and in other APAC offices, thanks to technology. This way I am less tired and can avoid spending so many hours stuck in traffic and use my time more effectively.
Kitty Hu – Senior Manager, Human Resources
I think find the right balance between work and family is one of the biggest challenges which women face. My daughter is now 2 years old and is a lot more engaging and demanding of me, so I have to be extremely focused and complete my work in the office so I can spend quality time at home with her. Although it’s a struggle, I try my best to make it work – I got a promotion last year and won the CEO Award this year! A woman has so many roles in life – but for me, being a mum is the most amazing experience. Someone who has greatly inspired me is Madam Wang Jing – HR Vice President of Shell in China. She is intelligent, well organised and willing to learn – going out of her comfort zone and taking on more challenges, while being successful in career and also balancing family needs.
Tamae Shimomura – Sales Director, Japan
The first ever Women’s Day was observed in New York in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the strike organised by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers union the year before. Knowing that that this day has come about as a result of working women who wanted change, for me International Women’s Day is about celebrating the role of women but also about campaigning for and effecting change. Like charity, change starts at home but that doesn’t mean it should stop there.
My career path was inspired by my boss from a previous workplace, I don’t look at gender when it comes to inspiration! For women in leadership roles, it is important to take advantage of the different aspects you bring in vision and strategy. How I try to achieve my goals has always been to separate work from my private life and focus on what I have to do to preserve my energy!
Sujata Ganguli – Manager Service Sales Support
Personally, I don’t think International Women’s Day is relevant simply because celebrating womanhood one day a year doesn’t makes any difference! We should work towards respecting and celebrating women around the world each and every day. Rather, we should focus on issues such as safety for women and try to make them feel more secure and encourage girls’ education and teach them self-empowerment. Though I am inspired by every woman who has achieved milestones as I wonder how they could manage their family and accomplishments, Indira Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo has been one of my career role models, she has consistently been ranked among the world’s most powerful women and her story really motivates me. I truly believe women are the pillars of family; being a mother of twin daughters who are now 12 years old I know how much goes into balancing my hectic work schedule and family. But at the end of the day it makes me feel good when I am able to bring a smile on my daughters’ faces managing their needs and also making my co-workers happy!
Mei Lin Low – Director, APAC Industry Marketing & Competitive Intelligence
International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the success of women all over the world and take pride in how far we have come to achieve equality and recognition in the workplace but also at home. It celebrates the contributions of women everywhere, not just the commonly perceived definitions of success but also the everyday efforts of ‘the-woman-on-the-street’ in pushing the boundaries and themselves a little more, every single day. My mum has always been a role model for me (or a driving force may be a more appropriate term), throughout my life and also in my career. She passed away 5 years ago but the intelligence, discipline, diligence, openness and grit that she embodied will always be an inspiration to me. She never shied away from a challenge, she kept house and was successful at work. She was always there for my dad, my sister and I, and she did all this decades ago when there was much less emphasis on women in the workforce, when work-life balance and flexible working weren’t even concepts in people’s heads. The world is changing so quickly – one minute it’s contrarian and blue ocean strategies that work. The next minute, it’s a heritage of innovation and testing boundaries that gain favour. To me, it is the fundamentals, the principles by which we strive towards, that will ultimately make the difference.
Sharon Ouyang, Senior Manager – Sales Operations, Greater China
In China, we celebrate International Women’s Day by having half day off (seriously, it’s a public holiday!). For me, this day is more like a reminder to women there is still a lot of struggling to be done, – equal education, equal pay, and being seen as an equally valuable person that contributes to society and the workplace. In Chinese tradition, it is societally not a “good” thing to say a women’s virtue to be ambitious. I understand that some of us are affected by the patriarchal society we grow up in, but I do think that way of thinking is the biggest challenge for women in the workplace.
For continued success in the workplace, my advice to women is to always be curious and questioning; push yourself to be a knowledge and learning addict. It’s curiousity which has empowered me to learn more about new technologies, to grow in my role and to add and capture value. Leading stereotypical lives has been holding many women back from their goals, we all think too much about the marriage we are not in yet, children that have not been born yet. I understand we still live in a society that double burdens women, but you still have the right to pursue your dreams. Stay strong, be smart and be ambitious!
One of my greatest female role models has been Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister who was referred to as the “Iron Lady”. I still remember in an address to her party, she quoted Christopher Fry’s popular play “The Lady’s Not for Burning” in insisting that she would press forward with her policies. “You turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning.” This quote inspired me thousands of times when I was confronting challenges and facing hard times and for me, has been embedded in my career.
Rachita Mohan – PR Specialist
Over the past century, the role of a woman has evolved significantly and International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we have come. In India, I think that this day is more relevant to women who live in rural areas given that the population in these regions have limited exposure to the importance of educating a girl child. While this is slowly changing in India, we still have a long way to go. Women in India and globally face a number of challenges – work-life balance, gaps in pay, safety and security, and respect in the workplace. A woman who has inspired me is Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India – her entrepreneurial story is inspiring!