With March 8th right around the corner, International Women’s Day is nearly upon us! To celebrate women’s increasing role in the business world, we had an open and honest discussion with our favorite lady boss, our very own Marketing Director, Lea.
As the woman in charge of our brand’s global marketing, she’s gotten an inside look at women in business, and how in particular, women in management roles are perceived in a male-dominated industry such as Tech. Let’s explore Lea’s personal journey, learn how she found her place at NOERDEN and which practices she discovered along the way to empower women throughout her professional life.
How do you identify yourself with the brand?
I identify very closely with the brand. Actually, I am the perfect target consumer! For one, I am an active, young professional living in bustling city – and I can tell you Shanghai can be quite overwhelming sometimes, things go fast, we are busy and constantly running after time. Secondly, I am quite health conscious, practicing yoga on a regular basis and following a healthy diet. Therefore, designing smart devices that could help us be more active on a daily basis definitely talks to me. However, I’ve never been fond of digital smart watches, I prefer a classic watch design. I also previously I worked in the luxury industry, so I definitely have an eye for design. Like many Millennials, I want to live a connected lifestyle without compromising style. So, in many ways, NOERDEN and I are a perfect match!
Why did you embark on this adventure with NOERDEN?
At the time, I had just spent a rewarding 2.5 years helping grow a start-up in the E-commerce industry. Things were stabilizing and I was looking for an exciting new challenge. I met Chris – our GM and founder, and we immediately got along. Our vision was complementary and our discussions very passionate. I liked his ambition, positive spirit and open mind. I believe a company’s staff reflects the management and I thought with a founder like this, we could really grow an amazing team and work environment! When I joined the company right after its creation, we were five and I was the only woman. From the start, it was a bit of a challenge, but we all got along really well, and led by Chris, we fostered a very hardworking but friendly and enjoyable atmosphere.
Do you think your gender plays any role in shaping the company?
Definitely. As one of the company’s key leaders, I do not only support global business development and define the brand’s direction, I also participate into shaping our working environment. Having a woman in charge of a large department like marketing, promotes female representation both in the physical and symbolic sense. For sure you can feel a female touch behind our brand image and each product. I believe it also encourages female representation throughout the team and pushes more women to work towards management roles.
What is the relationship between the company gender equality?
The tech industry, as you know, can be quite male-centric and the gender imbalance in offices can grow drastically if left unchecked. At NOERDEN the management team is committed to empowering personalities based on their competencies, potential and motivation, regardless of gender. Therefore, we naturally empower and value women who prove their commitment to our brand’s vision and share our values. Our office has a great gender balance, we are 2 women in the top management, and nearly 50/50 staff. With over half my team comprised of female, from 5 different countries, we certainly have a lot of “girl power” behind our brand! That’s something we are proud of and work hard to maintain.
You evolved in an infamously male-dominated industry (Tech), has this environment ever affected you negatively and how?
My answer is no, and you may wonder why? Yes, the Tech industry tends to favor male leadership. I’m regularly facing 50+ years old men – when considering I’m only 29, it adds to the unbalance. However, I’ve never felt discriminated against. I have a strong character, I always defend my ideas and work hard. I earn respect through professionalism, transparency and keeping an open mind. I consider that no matter our age, gender or culture, we all have to learn from each other. I believe that as a woman I bring a different point of view, that is complementary to theirs, and that together, we can be stronger. I’m glad to have found a company that respects me and my voice. I know that not all corporate environment are like this, but it’s our responsibility first, as women, to take part in this evolution. I’m sure there’s a lot of room for women to grow in Tech, we just need to dare to do it!
As a female director, how do you empower other women in business?
First of all, I give responsibilities to everyone, from interns to managers, I push people to analyze and make their own choices, I encourage their ideas and push them to achieve more. Everyone is an expert in his or her area, and I expect them to tell us what to do, not the other way around. Furthermore, I believe respecting their views and differences is a key point. As a multicultural team, it’s important that everyone feels free to express themselves in front of others without judgement. As I always say there is no right or wrong answer, just different point of views, that put altogether will help us understand further, be more creative and find the best solution.
In 2019, the fight for equality between men and women continues, with still a lot of room for improvement. As a woman, what are the best practices you recommend?
Well, I believe creating a working environment where everyone feels valued is a great start. From a corporate perspective, we all know the best practices that combat gender inequality such as being transparency, respecting different working behaviors, offering maternity leave – for both men and women, equal pay for the same positions… I don’t think a company should do anything special for women, I believe on the contrary we should treat everyone the same way, rewarding people based on their performance and commitment. But the best practices should come from deeper personal engagement. If you set corporate rules that you don’t respect yourself, who will follow you? So as a woman myself, I try my best to show a positive example to everyone – not only to women. I believe not only it can inspire other women to do so, but also show the other gender that they should consider us as equal. Finally, maybe the most important point is to never consider yourself or your ideas inferior due to your gender. If you do so you encourage others to do as well. But if you do what you love with passion, do it seriously and believe in yourself, people around you will recognize your drive, regardless of your gender.