Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and mother figures around the world!
We interviewed 3 moms from the Brinc family to showcase some of the fantastic women we know and for them to share what it takes to be a working mom.
Our first conversation is with Renee Pan, Managing Director of Brinc China, to discuss her experience of being a working mom and her strategies for time management in both work and family life.
You’ve been working at Brinc since its inception and have been a working mom about a year in. We can imagine that the transition of suddenly having children while working would be challenging. What was that like for you?
I had my kids after my first year at Brinc, so I have been a working mom for five years now. I’m not just a mother to one, but to two. I have a boy and a girl — twins — Adria and Aiden, so many things like manpower for example, are a challenge. We usually needed to have three people looking after them when they were younger, though now it’s slightly better. I think that’s the challenge — time. They accompany each other which is easier for us, but when they make a mess, it’s double the mess and very hard to control. They are getting older now, but it still seems hard because we are trying to find balance.
How I balance family and work really depends on how I manage my time. I am also quite lucky to get support from my family. I’ve seen other working moms work after having children that don’t receive much family support. And it’s quite cultural here, in Chinese society, the concept of working even after having children isn’t always easily understood.
Do you have a strategy for managing your time and balancing work with your kids?
One of my strategies is to pick up experience from others. I read from the internet from time to time or talk to my friends to see what they are doing. If there is an issue and I don’t understand what is the best way to handle things, I search for the answers and try to evaluate whether what people are saying makes sense.
Another strategy is to prioritize. I try to spend more time with my children, especially when I’m not working. They are in kindergarten during the day while I’m at work, so it works out. But sometimes when it comes to certain occasions or if I have to attend an event, I have to prioritize.
Other skills which I have learnt from work are to align on goals, delegate and boost empowerment. This could apply to the kids too as we help them discover the “why”, provide them with the appropriate tools, and support them when they have problems. The most important thing is to teach them to be responsible for themselves.
To be honest, I’m still learning because everything is new to me, and I hope I can keep growing along the way in both work and life.
Are you aware of any misconceptions people have about working moms?
It’s hard for me to speak for the world, but working moms in China are sometimes labelled. Sometimes they say “If you’re a working mom, you’re being very tough and very strong”. The Chinese saying is “Nu Qiang Ren”, which translates to a “strong woman”. A strong woman suggests that they spend more time at work, and therefore care less for their family. But sometimes there are also positive connotations where some people think that being a working mom means that you are able to balance family and work. If people can find balance, that is a good thing. However, misconceptions tend to come from the older generations. When the younger generation sees a working mom, they think that they are very capable and look at them in a positive way.
Do you have any advice for working moms?
Spending time with your children is important but I also think about why I continue working which is because I want to be a role model to the kids. By showing my kids “this is how I work, this is mom’s job and this is what mom is working on”, it would have an impact on them as well. I’ll try to be open minded with what they want to do in the future but I am here to help and facilitate, and at the same time I want to be able to set an example for them and work to achieve things and do things that matter which will eventually be helpful for them.
For a working mom in China, continuous learning and personal development is very important. So many people just focus on how well kids do in exams but I think what’s most important is to teach them how to solve problems, how to have a happy life, and how to deal with situations and problems, which are things that you don’t learn 100% from books. More like their ‘internal capability’. I think to inspire them to be able to open their eyes and be open-minded to the world around them and learn about different topics, and find out what they are interested in and we should be here to provide them the platform or the tools that can help them explore these interests.
You can connect with Renee via LinkedIn here. Stay tuned for the next interviews in our Mother’s Day Series!