On March 8 every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated all around the world to recognize the contributions and achievements of women across various communities while calling for greater equality. This year, the theme “Make It Happen” aims to encourage effective action for advancing and recognizing women. In conjunction with this occasion, Microsoft Asia Pacific will be featuring female leaders from around the region, sharing their inspirations as well as words of advice for women hoping to #MakeItHappen in the technology industry and beyond.
Sunny J. Park
Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft Korea
Sunny J. Park currently heads the Legal & Corporate Affairs division at Microsoft Korea, dealing with a wide variety of cutting-edge issues such as cybersecurity, privacy and digital copyright protection. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2010, she practiced law at firms such as Kim & Chang and Jipyoung & Jisung, and has hands-on business experience in the IT industry having served as the Managing Director of Mobile Internet business unit at Locus Technologies.
What empowers you to Make It Happen at work and at home?
I think what empowers me is my passion to make a contribution. Whether it is at work, home or in a social setting, I take the initiative to contribute. I don’t wait for someone to tell me what to do. I’ve always lived my life as if I’m the “owner”. This does not mean I want to “boss” people around but rather, I constantly look for things to improve in my environment. If you have an “owner” mindset, you look at things very differently, you’re motivated to contribute and you want to continuously improve things. That desire empowers me. Even when I was working part-time at a clothing store as a teenager many years ago, I saw the things that can be improved and I acted on it. Some people may call me a workaholic but I don’t see it as work – just solving problems and making things happen.
What advice would you give girls to help them reach their goals and Make It Happen?
Firstly, be proactive and enthusiastic. People like to work with people who energize them. People like to work with positive people. I would also recommend being more accountable for your actions and your career. I don’t mean promotion. We should always be open to learning new things and being self-critical. I do an inventory of my skill sets. We may know how much money we have, how many pair of shoes we own (important for women:) but sometimes we don’t know exactly what skill sets we have – which is probably the most important asset.
Secondly, don’t be content with status quo. Just because something worked before, does not mean that’s how it should be. Also, just because something didn’t work previously, does not mean it will not work this time. Regardless of your background and what field of work you are in, we can view work as solving problems. I worked in sales and marketing, distribution as well as law and one thing that is common in all of my work is that I had to solve problems. We are challenged at work and at home. I would recommend being a problem solver.
One other thing I want to emphasize, though it varies with culture, is that women wear many different hats and have many different roles outside of work. We are always stretched for time. I would recommend embracing technology to help you to be more productive and efficient.
Why do you think it’s important to involve more women in the tech industry?
Technology is part of our lives – whether at work or at home. It will become even more integrated in our lives. We need the female voice to address many of the technology issues we face today, from product design to regulatory policy. If women make up half of the world’s population, then we need to ensure we have a similar representation in the decision making as well.
What advice would you give to girls who are thinking about working in the technology field
Go for it! I think people have a misunderstanding or misperception that in order to be in the technology field you need to be good at math or be tech savvy. However, that is not the case. Of course if you want to be a developer, you should be technically inclined but there are many different jobs related to technology – law, sales, marketing, PR, etc. Majority of the people are not early adopters of technology and sometimes it helps not to be an early adopter since we can relate to how the majority of people view and think about technology.
Have you ever considered a career/pursuing other interests outside of technology? And if so, what was it?
My first career after college was in retail (fashion) and my second career after MBA was in pharmaceutical sales. After law school, I worked for a law firm specializing in various corporate issues, but I also ran an IT business on the side during the .com era. I had developers who developed software for mobile operators as well as marketing and sales teams. Now I am an in-house counsel in the technology field. People who looked at my CV may find these positions seemingly random. But I believe I am able to do my job right now because of my diverse background and experiences which allow me to understand various aspects of the business and to look at things differently.
Do you currently support any female orientated causes outside of work? Tell us a bit more about the organization, what your involvement is and why it inspires you.
Currently I am one of the co-chairs for the Women’s Committee at the In-House Counsel Forum, an organization of in-house counsels with over 1,000 members. I am also one of the co-chairs for the IT Committee, but my biggest passion is in promoting women in law. I want to encourage women to take on more leadership roles within their organization and in law firms. It is often said that as women, we are our own worst enemy. I want to break that myth. Regardless of your seniority, I think we can all learn from one another. I want to provide an avenue where women can inspire each other and empower each other.
Throughout my life, I was blessed with great women teachers, professors and managers who believed in me, encouraged me and gave me opportunities to excel. When I entered the legal profession, I didn’t have any mentor. In Korea, I am part of the first generation of women attorneys in law firms. At that time, my female colleagues, including myself, aspired to be like our male counterparts. We didn’t have any female leaders for support or guidance. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. I want to give back what I received from all my women mentors during my life. And I want to be a support for the younger women attorneys since we have traveled a similar path before.
At Microsoft, we strive to create an environment that helps us capitalize on the diversity of our people and the inclusion of ideas and solutions to meet the needs of our global and diverse customer base.
Find out more about our global diversity and inclusion programs here.
Read more about the experiences and inspirations from these female leaders in Microsoft Asia Pacific:
- Pip Marlow – Managing Director, Microsoft Australia
- Serena Cheung – Director of Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group (SMS&P), Microsoft Hong Kong
- Mira Fitria Soetjipto – Human Resource Director, Microsoft Indonesia
- Rukmani Subramanian – Chief Marketing & Operations Officer, Microsoft Malaysia
- Jan Ferguson – Director of Customer & Partner Experience, Microsoft New Zealand
- Karrie C. Ilagan – Country General Manager, Microsoft Philippines
- Siriporn Pajharawat – Director of Developer Experience & Platform Evangelism (DX) Group, Microsoft Thailand
- Jessica Tan – Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore
- Flora Chen – Customer Service and Support Lead, Microsoft Taiwan
- Duong Thi Kim Anh – Human Resource Manager, Microsoft Vietnam