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.
Director of Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group (SMS&P), Microsoft Hong Kong
As director of the SMS&P group in Microsoft Hong Kong, Serena Cheung leads an organization responsible for driving sales and marketing of comprehensive solutions for small to midmarket business customers. The SMS&P group also oversees the company’s channel strategy, supporting a large partner network that creates a range of solutions to help customers meet their unique business needs. Before her current role, she held several positions within Microsoft including sales director for Corporate Account & Partner Sales. She was the director of Brand, Product and Marketing at Lenovo before she joined Microsoft.
What empowers you to Make It Happen at work and at home?
The corporate environment at Microsoft always encourages and cultivates a working culture that is open and respectful in all discussions and connections. This enables people to speak up regardless of age, level, gender and style. While females may not be the gender majority, you will not feel like you are the minority either. Women are able to voice concerns and ask questions freely and openly. I personally value this culture at Microsoft. Being a natural introvert, I face the added challenge of working amongst highly vocal individuals who are the majority at Microsoft. It would be very easy for me to let others speak all the time. However, with the open and respectful culture at Microsoft, I am encouraged to speak up more frequently, to join the conservation and discussion and to make things happen. I find this culture to be unique to Microsoft when I compare other multinational companies I have worked for previously.
What would you like to do more to inspire other women to take on leadership roles?
As a female leader in the company, I want to commit more of my personal time to nurture more female leaders in other disciplines. I would like to share my experience and also hear from them. I always believe in “sharing to learn”.
Why do you think it’s important to involve more women in the tech industry?
The female population has been the minority in the tech industry for many years, especially in Hong Kong. Yet, we see the reverse pattern in the overall population where we have more females than males. This creates a demand to have more women in the industry so we can better cope with the future. The whole industry will face changing customer demands from the commercial space to the individual consumer. Women form a big part of our population and we have to consider their preferences in order to capture opportunities.
Do you think there are any existing misconceptions and biases among women regarding work in the tech industry or women in the tech industry?
Interestingly, at one point time in my working life, I was trying to step up to take a bigger position but someone told me to get married and not to be so aggressive in my career. This is a prevalent perception in the Chinese community that females should only spend their energy on their families. Sad to say, this perception still exists. If you are a single, successful woman over a certain age, people perceive that you’ve spent your whole life to fight for success, at the expense of getting married and having a family, instead of attributing your success to your abilities.
What advice would you give to girls who are thinking about working in the technology field?
This applies to girls who desire to work in any field or discipline: believe in yourself and be yourself. In order to do that, you have to understand and be well aware of your strengths and weaknesses and play to your strengths accordingly.
How does being a female leader help you make a difference?
I hope that I can be a role model for girls and influence more of them to join the tech industry.
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
- Mira Fitria Soetjipto – Human Resource Director, Microsoft Indonesia
- Sunny J. Park – Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft Korea
- 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