On life and dreams and greatest achievements

Personal musings…

I dream of creating workplaces where my daughter will not need to calibrate her capabilities to be a little less than those of her male colleagues, and where my son will never ponder the question “Are women as capable as men?”

When I look back on the trajectory of my life, there are many moments that seem surreal. The further in time I am removed from some events, the more I question whether they really transpired… my life is a tapestry woven across four continents, 3.5 languages spoken, 2 of which are retained. I have seen bowls of live, skinned frogs in Hong Kong markets, and flown in to the city when the flight path skirted laundry flapping on skyscraper balconies. I have managed apartment complexes that housed colorful and questionable characters, seen bodies in alleyways and shut down home-style meth labs. I also have a PhD in Design, a University Medal for studies in IT, two amazing children, two dogs, wonderful friends, and a few dreams and aspirations. I have been through times that were good, I have run away from bad times when I could, and I have gritted through others when I needed to. With this canvas as a starting point, I find it hard to define what my greatest career successes are, or indeed those that I am most proud of.

Across the course of my career, there are lots of moments that I am textbook proud of: recently, I led the design of a Tone Analyser dubbed “one of the best implementations of IBM Watson Technology” by IBM; I created a manual for placing TravelersBox’s in airport that became their “installation bible” and unlocked their Series A funding; as a first time public speaker, I took out first place in the QUT 3MT Speaking competition, and placed 4th in the Asia-Pacific finals; I re-skilled as an Architect and created dozens of homes which were loved by their families and generated well above market returns.

Although I am proud of the above, I don’t consider any of these accolades my greatest achievement. Rather, I consider the course I took to reach each of these moments as something worth applauding. Much of my career has been forged in unmarked territory, etched with unconventional pathways that needed to be constructed while the journey was underway. I have changed continents, learned languages and adapted to new cultures, pursued new career adventures, and mustered the strength to leave a destructive relationship. I have fought harder than I should have needed to against the subtleties of legal systems, organizational structures and the legacies of inequality and imbalance in the workplace. I have spent hours engaged in conversations seeking answers to the age old question “Are women as able as men?”, instead of focusing on the more salient, quiet and poignant “Why aren’t they? What is limiting their dreams? How can we fix this?”.

To me, my greatest achievement is that I have learned, and grown, and moved forward in this jungle without losing faith and optimism that there exists a better world.

As I look towards the next phase of my career, I am drawn to creating workplaces where energy is focused on generating creative value, and where women are invited to participate fully and supported accordingly. I dream of creating workplaces where my daughter will not need to calibrate her capabilities to be a little less than those of her male colleagues, and where my son will never ponder the question “Are women as capable as men?”.

In order for creativity and innovation to flourish, I believe that it is essential that we develop workplaces that encourage congruence between our home and work lives, and enable individuals to achieve their highest potential, regardless of gender.

Being a part of creating this future will be my greatest achievement yet.