The #SaltSessions Women in Tech #WiT interview series speaks with thought leaders from around the world to get their opinion and advice on how they have grown their career in tech, and overcome challenges and adversity during their career.
What is your current role and the most exciting part of your work?
In my current role, I am largely responsible for managing the Consumer Behavioural Analysis Unit at Brandnographer, a unit focused on applying human behaviour science to unlock extensive innovative ideas and notions.
What has been your most career defining moment that you are proud of?
I am very proud of being able to see the impact of our research at Brandnographer and creating meaning for companies and brands we work with. My reward comes from seeing individuals in our company (and our client teams) seize opportunities by either proving something to themselves or learning to think in new ways that are braver and bolder than before.
For example, when we partnered with Gululu, they were designing a smart water bottle to keep children hydrated. Our research helped the team explore what was outside the realm of possibilities, and analyse the motivations and unmet needs of Chinese parents and kids in their daily lives. Through this, we were able to provide the basis for defining the direction of the entire product line.
What do you think we should be doing more of to encourage more girls to consider a career in tech?
I believe we should start inspiring and supporting their interest at a young age. As girls grow up, they are influenced by a multitude of aspects from culture, familial relations, social factors, and many more. If we are able to impact them at a younger age, their interest in tech may be cultivated into a prosperous career in the tech field.
What challenges have you faced in the workplace, especially your experience in male-dominated environments?
I haven’t truly faced too many challenges, especially none that had left a lasting impression on me. However, there are small and subtle challenges that I may have faced, such as assumptions that the company may not be knowledgeable on certain aspects, having potential partners or external suppliers look down or take advantage of our questions, or the added pressure of having to prove myself or my team to make a good impression to clients.
Over the last couple of years, the company wasn’t growing as fast as I’d hoped, so in order to build on our previous experiences, we worked to expand our portfolio to include a new start-up to build customer-focused technologies, and we were recently accepted into the new cohort of HKSTP’s Incu-App programme.
What is the biggest deterrent in your opinion to women succeeding in the workplace?
Women’s ability to lead or complete certain tasks are often deterred by gender stereotypes
(i.e. men take charge while women stay back or women being too soft-hearted to make proper judgement, etc.).
As an employer, what would you recommend to other companies regarding infrastructure to have in place to develop the best talent?
At Brandnographer, we are proud to boast the lack of office hierarchy. We want everyone’s voices to be heard, so no matter if you’re an intern or in a senior position, we respect everyone’s ideas and thoughts. We also have a one-to-one mentor and mentee system where long-standing employees guide and lead newer employees, so they can easily reach out for guidance if there’s anything they need help with, and assimilate with the company and other staff.
In a management position, how have you found it best to promote and nurture women’s careers?
In my opinion, everyone has their individual motivations and there is no one mould to ensure every woman succeeds in the same way. I generally find that verbal encouragement and one-to-one guidance has been the most constructive way to promote and nurture women’s careers.
What are some of the best and worst workplace initiatives you have seen/heard of to help promote diversity?
We are quite open at Brandnographer, so we have many inclusive strategies such as a day off for religious holidays that may not be officially observed in Hong Kong, language translations for different employees or flexible working hours to adjust to each person’s needs.
How has COVID-19 affected the way you work?
COVID-19 has definitely affected the way we worked. In the beginning, with the panic and confusion it brought along, I often had to coordinate with the rest of the team to situate and communicate safety precautions (i.e. working from home, insurance policies, hand sanitiser, etc.). Working from home has definitely brought along many problems, especially as we have been working on a new project. However, as the situation has improved in Hong Kong, we have resumed working in the office and ensuring that the office environment is safe for all.
What is your biggest stress reliever?
I would usually turn to reading or watching videos online to relax.
Fun fact about you?
I am a huge fan of detective dramas.
With a Master of International Business from the University of Birmingham, Ruby has a rich background in design, branding and innovation, giving her a pronounced advantage in having both business acumen and a design thinking mindset. Before she created Brandnographer, she was the Associate Director at Brand Union, with expert knowledge in technology and design. To date, she has worked with a wide variety of international brands such as Google, Google Play, Microsoft, AirBnB, and Land Rover.
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