CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 – An interview with Yiwei Shen, our very own Web Analytics Consultant
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to share one of the stories and achievements of one of the many strong women who work at Sparkline! We caught up with Yiwei, 28, Web Analytics Consultant from our delivery team. Always confident to voice her views and ideas, we hear how she has dealt with gender-biased attitudes throughout her professional career and how her performance always challenged the stereotypes.
Tell us about what you do and what this looks like on a daily basis at home and at work at Sparkline!
My work at Sparkline as an Integrator, I help our clients to implement web analytics solutions, primarily within Google Platforms. We look at areas such as coding and working with the client developer teams, how to implement codes on their own websites as well as proposing changes and providing actionable insights.
You really need to understand your clients and their business and their focus on conversion. We can then see how we have helped them boost their conversions and improve their business. At the same time, with all of this I am studying for a full-time Master’s in Computing so prioritisation is a major challenge for me – work and education as a balance. These two big pillars (work and education) take up a huge part of my daily life. I am also devoted to my cat, Stanford, who helps to comfort me knowing he is waiting for me when I get home – this keeps me happy at the end of a stressful day!
What is your family background/current situation and how has this influenced your life today?
When I was young I wanted to be a TV Host! In China, we had a National News programme and I would learn all the backgrounds of the hosts – hoping to be one of them one day! When I came to Singapore, I decided if I couldn’t do this I would merge these areas of Media and IT and study Information Engineering and Media. I then went to work with SPH supporting data visualisation for news stories and during this time I also developed web development experience and implementation guides for the websites of the company. It was here, I learnt to work with clients and help to influence people.
How would you describe the opportunities that you have been given to build your career? Have these always been ‘equal’ in your opinion?
From a Singapore perspective, I have always felt that my opportunities have been equal and for women in the workplace, I have never experienced anything other than equality – luckily. In other countries for example, I’ve heard, one question in work interviews for example, I would have been asked right away if I am married? Have any plans to be or to start a family? I feel assumptions and decisions would be made which would work against a woman. For example, during my career I have come across instances where i have been questioned about my depth of tech knowledge, which have been based on my gender. This has sometimes come from women as well. I look at it as at the end my work will speak for itself and has done, once they see what I can do they understand and appreciate me.
What does it mean to you to be a ‘Woman in Tech’ ?
As I came from an engineering background, I would say the majority of the people that I know, come from that background too and therefore all my girlfriends seem to have developed roles in IT/Tech! So for me – I don’t really overthink it as my social and professional groups are mostly in Tech.
What does Generation Equality look like/mean to you?
#EachforEqual, for my own workplace would be the option to work on any clients and accounts regardless of gender. We can prove that the perception that Girls can’t be deeply technical is wrong and we can do anything, that the Gentleman shouldn’t feel they have the advantage based on gender. Actually, I don’t see people as their “Gender”, I see them in their role and what they are delivering to our company. In Sparkline context, we don’t think about aligning to people based on the problems as such we just want to get the job done and resolve the issue with the right capabilities. We are so proud of our diversity within our team gender-wise, as well as equality across nationalities, backgrounds and personalities.
What keeps you moving forward and what threatens to hold you back, if anything at all? Would you say this is gender-driven?
What drives me every day? At Sparkline, it’s helping my clients to achieve results which is at the core of the business. What holds me back is prioritising and multi-tasking, I know the perception, Women can be better at this, but this is definitely something that is an ongoing challenge. If I had to use a TV related example, it is like I have to switch channels at different times of each day and multiple times a day! I think maybe this holds me back but I am getting more efficient, but nothing that I would say is particularly gender-driven I think it’s more different styles for different people.
What advice would you give to girls and ladies out there looking to forge ahead in the world of STEM based on your own experience?
I think just work with courage for anyone, do what you want to do and if you’re supported by your family in this, then all the better! Also I would advise to try and prioritise – which is just personally something I am working on with work vs life. Ask yourself, what is important to you? I am single with no major responsibilities, so for me, maybe it is easier. Maybe the challenge in life will just get bigger for some, so really remember what is important to you.
I went to a recent Facebook Women in Tech event and one thing I took away was ‘you can’t do everything’ and ‘don’t be afraid if the ball drops’. I think sometimes, not just as women but all of us, we worry about the impact and stress. A lot of the time you’ll learn from these mistakes and learn how you can solve them rather than avoid failing – we are human we make mistakes! Ultimately, take the courage to do what you want and the courage to fail and learn!