Wai Foong Ng is the founder and editor of ‘Suit & Pie’, a biweekly newsletter published every other Thursday, which collates news, articles and videos about professional women with the aim of addressing some of the gender equality issues in the workplace. When she isn’t blogging, Foong is a Senior Tax Manager at a global accountancy firm.
“…many of the personal traits and issues I had been struggling with (trying to be more vocal in meetings, being more confident but not bossy, not wanting to have to ‘act like a man’ to make it) were common to other women and weren’t just ‘my’ issues…”
In the beginning…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Foong. Her mum was a beautiful, but rather strict lady who wanted her daughter to be the best – at everything. Foong was sent to a French school to ensure that she was fluent in both French and English (the Channel tunnel was a hot topic back then). She also took ballet, tap, modern, jazz and ballroom dancing lessons and learnt how to play the piano and violin. Foong did well in most of these disciplines and excelled mainly in the academics department (proving that maybe there is some substance to the 10,000 hour theory), eventually landing herself a place in Cambridge (where she discovered alcopops – but that is a different story).
Foong had been told from a young age to respect her elders (which was really code for don’t talk back). As a result of this, along with her attending school in what was not then her first language, she became a very quiet, introverted girl.
In the middle…
Flash forward to today and I am still a bit of a geek and quiet by nature. Luckily however, I have done some growing since my nursery days (not just in terms of height) and learning on the job has helped me become a much more rounded person, if not fully rounded just yet.
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my team to go on an ‘emerging leaders’ course, during which there was a lot of figurative tree-hugging, but also a whole lot of personal development, learning about your leadership style and what makes you tick. It was during these two years that I read ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. I know this may sound a little clichéd, but the combination of the book and the course made me realise that many of the personal traits and issues I had been struggling with (trying to be more vocal in meetings, being more confident but not bossy, not wanting to have to ‘act like a man’ to make it) were common to other women and weren’t just ‘my’ issues.
I started to share this revelation with my lady friends and realised that they had also been feeling the same way at work, just that we had never spoken about it or even been aware that this was a female issue before. I started reading articles about gender diversity, unconscious bias, female quotas on boards and stay-at-home fathers, and realised there was a wealth of information already available to myself, my girlfriends and other women (and men), which could help them also. It was this urge to share what I had learnt and to help others which gave me the idea for Suit & Pie.
In the end / a new beginning. Let the blogging commence…
The preview issue of Suit & Pie http://t.co/BXg2rRcYXf was launched in December 2013. As you read this, Suit & Pie is on its 6th issue http://eepurl.com/PY_BH (7th issue due out Thursday 27th March) and averages over 1,000 reads per newsletter. The support I have received from my firm, my team, my friends, my family and a lot of people I don’t actually know has been overwhelming.
I do miss those lazy weekends when I could get up at 11am and watch telly in my jammies instead of sifting through articles and planning issues, but the people that Suit & Pie has given me the opportunity to meet (shout out to the amazing founder of Womanthology) and the whole experience of having created something from scratch that people are actually engaging with cannot be replaced.
As a wise man (Mr Foong) once said – even if your newsletter helps just one person, it will be worth it.
P.S.: A few people have asked me where the name Suit & Pie comes from. The Suit represents the more formal / professional workplace element, whereas the Pie represents the female, more homely side (and also… I love pie).
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