An Inspirational Evening With Shay Fu
“Expand your horizons!”
“Ask for what you want!”
These were the main takeaways at the Voices of the Outstanding 50 Series II: Positive Correlations: Women in Business & the Technology Moving Us Forward, organized by the Asian American Business Development Center, that took place on Monday, September 17, 2018 at the Microsoft Flagship store at Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The event was moderated by Mariko Carpenter, Vice President, Strategic Community Alliances, Nielsen Corporation. Panelists included Sara Abiusi, Senior Client Technology Executive, Accenture, Anshu Kak, Vice President and Distinguished Engineer, IBM Corporation, and our very own Shay Fu, EVP/Managing Director, North America, Craft.
While it was insightful to see how other panelists got to where they are today, and how being a woman, especially an Asian woman, shaped their mindsets, what I found most inspirational and relevant was when Shay shared her vision with us. Did I mention Shay is my big-big-boss, and we’re both (legal!) immigrants?
Shay found me on LinkedIn one late October night almost four years ago, plucked me out of semi-early-voluntary retirement, and offered me my first-ever ad agency job (a dream job nonetheless). I have since looked up to her as my role model. Why you ask? I had been working at a number of big corporations for 16 years up until then, but had never come across any Asian female in a leadership position. Shay earned the top spot by being unafraid – and it never hurts to have a mentor who believes in you! When Shay was hired at Omnicom to oversee creative, her manager/mentor threw her into new business instead. This unexpected opportunity pushed her to go beyond her normal job description, and allowed her to be bold when dealing with the unknown.
Shay—gasp!—speaks her mind, somewhat of a no-no in Asian culture. This is what I admire the most, because I was taught the opposite. Growing up in Hong Kong, I was constantly reminded to be humble, particularly being a woman. “Don’t brag! Do a great job and you’ll be rewarded,” my teachers would instruct. Just not in America – and I learned it the hard way.
Shay is a big believer in voicing what you want, whereas Anshu, a non-smoker, championed fearlessly crashing her male colleagues’ smoke breaks to talk business, while Sara raised the importance of networking both inside and outside of your own organization. By not feeling like they’re “just an Asian woman”, Shay, Anshu, and Sara were able to focus on what mattered to their careers the most and act on it.
When I found out about this event, I encouraged my team members to attend. As their manager, I wanted them to hear first-hand from the big cheese and other female leaders in the industry what it takes to succeed in an otherwise male-dominant field. In addition to my team, a couple of ladies from Craft joined the event as well, and here’s what everyone thought of it:
“As a woman in technology, it was very inspiring to hear from leaders in the industry and their experiences. My largest takeaways were to be sure that I’m reinventing myself every few years and to stay active with organizations outside of my work in order to stay ahead of trends.”
- Stef Sokolowski, VP, Integrated Production Director, Craft
“The event was great, a wonderful presentation. All the speakers were informative and inspirational. The women started with different beginnings, and with courage and faith in themselves, pursued their goals. They all felt they had encouragement and support from people who saw potential in them. One thing that stands out for me, is that they all seemed happy and not dissuaded by the challenges they faced along the road to success. This event was encouraging for all women to continue their dreams.”
- Debra A. Ruggiero, Retoucher, Craft
“The Voices of the Outstanding 50 was a beautifully set up event to celebrate successful women in business and technology. I loved hearing the various stories of how the celebrated women got to the professional levels they all are today. My biggest takeaway from the event was their advice to ‘always have an opinion’ and to ‘believe in yourself ’. I think these are extremely important to remember when in the workforce – it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and show peers that there are multiple ways to look at things and you also need to constantly be your own #1 fan!”
- Courtney McComas, Digital Production Coordinator, Craft
“I really enjoyed hearing one of Craft’s very own fearless leaders speak about her journey to get to the EVP position she is at today. Originally having different career ambitions (Fun fact: Did you know Shay wanted to be an artist?), Shay’s mentor guided her towards a path of success as a woman in business and technology.”
- Jordan Weaver, Digital Production Coordinator, Craft