Passionate, Independent and Female: Remotely Celebrating the Sheroes of Microsoft Malaysia

 |   Natasha Lee

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Though 2020 has already seen its fair share of extraordinary challenges, Microsoft is taking a moment to appreciate technology’s role in transforming the world to be more inclusive by empowering people and organisations to achieve more― especially in times of crisis. Today, the value a person can add to an organization is no longer measured by her gender or background, but instead by her skills, knowledge and capabilities.

We are slowly levelling that playing field between the genders as more and more women join the tech industry.  Their diversity of thought and perspective drives innovation even further, proving that equality and inclusion only adds value to organizations and the world.

We want to shine a spotlight on some amazing ‘Sheroes’ of Microsoft Malaysia and what they think about women in tech juggling remote work and running a household during the Movement Control Order (MCO). We asked them four simple questions:

  1. What does remote working mean to you as a woman in tech?
  2. What advice would you give to women out there who are working remotely?
  3. Why is it important for women to equip themselves with digital skills and how will it shape the future?
  4. If you could speak to your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?

The responses we received are not only inspiring but also heartwarming. They illuminate how technology has paved the way for equal opportunities even in the face of calamity, not just within Microsoft but also across the entire tech industry.

In their own words, they reflect on empowering themselves and others, their triumphs and challenges. Without further ado, here let’s hear from the Sheroes of Microsoft Malaysia!

Eunice Tan, Corporate Sales Analyst, Microsoft APACeun

Although the joy and fun of working in physical proximity with colleagues is missing, I find that remote working applies individuality in new and different ways. I am still enjoying my work and driving impact. As a woman in tech, I’m always developing something new or improving previous techniques and ideas.

My advice to women working remotely is: amplify your strengths and manage your weaknesses in order to deal with change. Perform your best and achieve personal fulfilment!

Women’s lives are full of challenges and triumphs. Today, women are empowering themselves by upskilling and acquiring digital knowledge to achieve excellence and success. We must look beyond the surface to understand the trends of the future as we embark on our digital transformation journeys. It’s not all about winning or losing. Women pursue their goals and take risks with passion and full hearts. We share our lives and thoughts with future generations, passing on the torch.

A woman must have PASSION doing what she loves and loving what she does. I would tell a younger Eunice to stay POSITIVE. Passion and optimism will carry you through challenges and help you discover solutions which drive innovation and inspiration.

That’s how I became the woman I am today 😊

Fatin Fatihah Zahari, Service Delivery Manager, Microsoft Malaysiafat

Being a woman in tech is a privilege that those who came before me could only dream of. Today, I am glad that I can set an example for my son and show him what a woman who works at Microsoft looks like. I am in the tech space not because I am the best ‘female technologist’, but because I strive to be good at what I do regardless of my gender. My empowering journey starts at home with my son- raising him knowing that he, too, can achieve more in whatever field he chooses despite of who he started his journey as. Who he becomes is what matters most. 

In retrospect, thanks to the men in my life, I am empowered to become who I am today.

Kim Kean Ng, Central Marketing and Operations Lead, Microsoft Malaysiak

We are in the midst of a flexible workplace revolution! To me, working remotely means I don’t have to walk into a traditional office each weekday morning. Instead I can opt to work remotely part or full-time from home, abroad or in a sleek co-working space.

Working remotely would be impossible without the fantastic technology we have today. Technology is the key enabler of mobility. Fast Wi-Fi connection, smartphones, cloud computing, instant messaging, project management software and VoIP allow us to communicate and collaborate instantaneously. My advice to other women would be: embrace the technology available to drive flexibility, technological progress and productivity while working remotely.

By equipping female employees with the right digital skills – businesses and the economy stand to benefit in several ways. Digital skills can provide new ways of working. Women that embrace those changes will reap the benefits of high job satisfaction from creating and using new tools that allow them to communicate, collaborate and do their jobs more efficiently and innovatively. Having the right digital skills equip women to join a long-term, sustainable pipeline of talent pool who can fully seize the opportunities presented by the digital economy.

To answer the final question, if I could go back in time and hang out with my younger self for a day here’s what I would tell her:

Take a leap of faith

You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain! If you fail, you’ll learn resilience. If you succeed, your self-confidence will blossom. You’ll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith and try. Keep your eyes on the prize. Invest in yourself. Accelerate your learning curve. See life as a progressive journey. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Li Kuan Lai, Enterprise Channel Manager, Education, Microsoft Malaysial

In these unprecedented circumstances, working remotely means having to juggle work and home life. Suddenly a simple thing like having lunch becomes a chore― whether it’s cooking, buying takeout or ordering from food delivery services. To manage this, I organise my week so that workload-heavy evenings are cooking-free and ensure time is allotted for breakfast and lunch. If you’re married, constant communication and forming a tag-team with your spouse is key to managing work/home duties.

Women must balance work and home duties. I believe in equipping ourselves with some technology trouble-shooting skills for working from home or travelling to continue our productivity. As a sales representative in a technology company, solutions that help communicate with customers efficiently and privately are important. We should embrace life-long learning to master ever-changing technology tools that empower us. If I could give my younger self advice, I would say “Don’t be afraid to do more, you will gain knowledge and skills that way.”

Nur Hazwany Muhamad Rafi (Wany), Group Administratorw

A flexible remote work policy not only keeps us safe but also allows us to build a personal and professional framework on our own terms. As a mother, working remotely allows me to have the best of both worlds! I get to watch my children grow up without having to hit pause on my career progression.

My WFH routine honestly hasn’t changed much from what I used to do, and I encourage other women to maintain a consistent routine. Shower first thing in the morning and change your clothes. You don’t need a proper outfit but at least swap last night’s pajamas to something simple that makes you feel like a functioning adult. If you have kids at home like me 😊, staying organized is more important than ever. I replicate the schedule of a typical school day, which helps me feel like my children are keeping up with their education. Lastly, try to wake up at the same time everyday and treat weekdays as normal working days.

It’s important for women to equip themselves with digital skills because they can leverage those vital skills in finance, operations, marketing, sales and more. Technology is important not only for women, but for all future generations. Teaching kids digital literacy skills is very important. Kids need to be able to understand the technology they use so they can use it safely and effectively. Digital skills are not just about knowing how to take a selfie or update Facebook. Digital skills are about understanding technology and using it appropriately.

To young Wany, I would say this:

You are so much stronger than you think. You are not perfect but extremely brave. You’re a survivor!

When I lost my father at the age of 18, I decided to take the STPM as early as I could because I realized my mum was struggling as a housewife to support me and my 3 sisters. I applied that same work ethic to my first job as a Dome waitress. My hard work finally paid off when I was promoted to Café Manager.

After my father passed away, I worked hard to fill his shoes as the leader of our family. I struggled to take care of my mum and 3 sisters who were still at school. Working so hard to pay for the house, utilities and other family expenses made me realize I’m stronger than I think. 😊 I am a survivor!

Sarah-Ann Yong, Technical Account Manager, Microsoft Malaysias

From the time the Movement Control Order was implemented in Malaysia, I’ve had multiple conversations with family and friends about how they and their respective organizations are struggling to cope with the new norm of ‘business unusual’.

As a woman in tech, I’m proud and thankful that I work for an organization that doesn’t just equip me to work remotely from home but empowers me to do so― not everyone has the same privilege and opportunity, for various reasons.

To me, working remotely means staying productive, staying relevant and showing up for my customers every single day. This is only made possible thanks to our digital solutions and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams.

In our daily lives, we may play multiple roles as daughter, sister, girlfriend and friend to our loved ones. It’s a fact that women often struggle from ‘guilt’ of not being able to do or ‘achieve enough’ in 24 hours, especially during these challenging and unprecedented times. We find ourselves jumping from one call to another with barely any breaks in between. The line between our work and personal lives has blurred.

However, it’s also very important to prioritize our physical and mental well-being to prevent burn-out. Personally, I try my best to block out 30 – 45 minutes every evening to tune out and shut down my device (even for a while!) to engage in exercise like yoga. This helps me feel refreshed, relaxed, rejuvenated and restart my power button! 😉

Women should equip themselves with digital skills to overcome gender stereotypes and fulfil their potential as equal and contributing members of society in today’s workforce. It is no longer a nice-to-have but an absolute imperative to stay ahead and remain relevant in our world today!

To my younger self:

I truly believe that the world is your oyster and that the possibilities are endless when you learn to say ‘yes!’ first, then figure out the ‘how’ later.

Some people may not agree with or understand the ‘risk’ you took by giving up your legal career after spending years studying law, but I want to say: Thank you for being brave. Thank you for stepping into the unknown to pursue your passion for tech. 5 years ago you would never have guessed that you could have the opportunity to work for a company that not only allows you to come as you are and do what you love, but empowers you to do so!

Remember that ‘All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end!’

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Thank you to all our Sheroes for sharing their stories on how they are driving change and deploying technology to conquer hardship. We constantly strive to build a deeper connection to the unique experiences, challenges, and priorities of women everywhere to work towards a more inclusive future for everyone. Only together will we be able to triumph over adversity and empower every person and organization in the world to achieve more.

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