Balancing Motherhood with a Fulltime Career: Q&A with Peggy Zhu

May 17, 20191:37 pm
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Sunday (May 12) is Mother’s Day. Addressing challenges in promoting working mothers into leadership roles in the thriving e-commerce industry, we sought valuable opinions through an exclusive interview with Peggy Zhu, Head of Brand & Growth Marketing of Shopee, Singapore to draw understanding on the road blocks to maximising women potential in the region. She threw light on how working mothers could achieve work-life balance, the significance of women’s role in the e-commerce industry, how company could help working parents, and more…

As a prominent leader in the fast-paced world of e-commerce, what are the most significant challenges you face in juggling between work and family? How do you prioritise both?

Frequent travelling can be quite demanding as I have to be away from my four-year-old daughter for many days. To stay closely connected despite being overseas, I usually video call her every day.

Ensuring quality time with my family amidst my hectic schedule can also be a challenge. Therefore, I prioritise both my family and career by meticulously planning out my routines. I wake up early each day so that we can have breakfast together and ensure that I am home to read my daughter stories before her bedtime.

I am privileged that Shopee recognises that working mothers have commitments outside of work and gives us the option of flexible working hours and remote meetings. Being afforded this flexibility makes me and my fellow working mothers feel valued, trusted and respected, which encourages us to manage our time wisely to be as efficient as possible.

How does being a mother help you in your career?

While motherhood and careers appear to be pitted against each other, I truly believe that as long as working mothers are able to strike a balance between both, there can be a positive impact. Being a mother to a young child has sharpened my ability to prioritise and manage my time, as I often have to juggle between tasks. At work, I ensure that I have a clear agenda of my tasks for the day and commit to it.  

Motherhood has also made me more determined and focused on my career, as I realise that time is too precious to not pursue my own career goals. I aim to continually build on my skills and knowledge in order to be a well-rounded marketer who drives growth and also wins the hearts of consumers.

Peggy Zhu, Head of Brand & Growth Marketing of Shopee

What is the most rewarding thing about being a working mother?

There is a feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction to be able to pursue my career, while also being a good mother to my child. I pride myself in being ambitious and hardworking and I am proud to be able to set a good example for my daughter. I hope that my daughter grows up to be motivated to pursue her career goals and knows that she can balance a fulfilling career and motherhood without having to choose one or the other.

What inspired you to build a career in e-commerce?

I am passionate about the internet and technology, and jumped at the opportunity to join Shopee last year. Being able to marry a career in the tech industry with my knowledge and skills in marketing is something I have always wanted to pursue in order to challenge myself professionally.

I am thrilled to be able to contribute by driving user growth and retention, as well as build Shopee’s brand through data-driven marketing approaches. Joining a thriving young company like Shopee and having the opportunity to help grow it into one of the region’s leading e-commerce companies was also a huge motivation for me.

What do you think about women’s role in the e-commerce industry nowadays?

Gender diversity and inclusivity is important at Shopee as we reach out to shoppers that cut across various demographic lines. As women have been early adopters of online shopping and make up the majority of e-commerce platforms’ core users, women working in e-commerce can provide valuable insights on female shopper preferences. We are able to advise across various functions critical to e-commerce success, including product design, user experience, feature innovation, and marketing strategy.

I believe that the growing number of women working in e-commerce signals that we play an important part in bolstering and providing valuable contributions to a sector that has traditionally been seen as very male-dominated.

How has being a part of Shopee’s Working Mums Group helped you, both in career and family?

Being a part of Shopee’s Working Mums Group has helped me to establish a support network of fellow working mothers within the office. Though we come from various functions and levels, we meet up quarterly over breakfast sessions to share resources and discuss ideas for parenting benefits at Shopee.

It has also fostered a sense of camaraderie. We have an internal group chat where we are able to engage in light-hearted, casual conversation and I have found it meaningful to create connections with other mothers. I am grateful that Shopee puts in place such initiatives that foster an inclusive working environment for us.

What are some ways Shopee enables working mothers like you to achieve a work-life balance?

Shopee has a progressive work culture and the company goes the extra mile to create an environment to help working mothers thrive. We are fortunate to have the option of flexible working hours and remote meetings, which can help us balance work and family commitments, especially during occasions when our children are unwell or require our attention. This flexibility also helps us to be an active part of our children’s formative years, and I am thankful to be able to be at home at reasonable hours to spend evenings together with my daughter.

Beyond the workplace, Shopee promotes a culture that is family-friendly and inclusive. Shopee organises annual family events to encourage employees to spend more quality time with their loved ones. This year, Family Day will be held at Universal Studios Singapore, which is expected to be popular with all families. In addition, mothers are able to bring their children to join them and their colleagues in fun activities organised by Shopee’s employee-led interest clubs, such as the bowling and ice-skating groups. These initiatives are a great way to unwind, create deeper connections with colleagues, and spend quality time with family.

Shopee’s Working Mums Group

What is the best advice you could give to mothers out there who are still reluctant to pursue a professional career?

I am a strong believer that every mother should pursue her heart’s calling and lead a lifestyle that works best for her and her family.  For women who are looking to pursue a professional career but are hesitant because of family commitments, I suggest the 3 P’s.

  1. Partner-up. Speak with your partner and family to get more support. Your loved ones can give you guidance to help you with any decision making.
  2. Follow your passion. I encourage mothers to choose an industry they are passionate about, as entering a role that fits their interests and capabilities will make the transition much easier.
  3. Planning is paramount. Time is precious and it is important to plan your daily routine and family timetable. Being organised will help to ensure that you are able to allocate quality time to your family every day.

Mothers are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for and I hope we all build the courage to forge ahead and have fulfilling careers.

Read also: Technology Could Widen the Gender Employment Gap: IMF