Life is not defined by gender...says Stacki Yu

Stacki Yu, a top Chinese HR executive in a multinational company in America, believes that both men and women should be treated as equal – with equal access to resources and opportunities

We would like to know about yourself, your education and your initial days of career.

I graduated in one of the top Finance & Economics universities in China where almost all my schoolmates take a job in finance or economics related openings. After six months of internship in finance department, I realized finance is not my career  and decided to decline an offer to be a permanent finance employee. It’s usually too late to make this kind of decision as it is already the end of the recruiting season. But it’s early enough to look for the right career path fit for myself.

You grew up in Shanghai (China). Tell us about your experience as a working woman in early days.

Shanghai has the largest number of multinational corporations in China. My first formal job was to support the sales team in a Japanese-funded beer company. There were 40+ salesmen, and only 5 were women. In the beer industry, women have to prove themselves much more in a man-leading team. And the 5 women performed so well that they became top sales persons from the sales reports I run. I was so proud of them that I also got inspired. 

Tell us about your memories from childhood. How did they help you mould as Stacki Yu of today?

I was born two years after Chinese governance announced the One-Child policy which means most people didn’t have any siblings in my generation. (The policy was updated in 2016 to allow each family to have two children in China mainland.) Thus, I appreciate so much to have a twin sister who shares all the great memories in my  childhood, except sharing the pocket money! Although I am only 40 minutes older than my sister, my parents and my sister expected me to take more responsibilities which developed the nature of leadership in my life.

When did you move to the US? What prompted you to take that step?

I moved to the US in August 2015. In one of the regular conference call updates with my supervisor, she told me there was a job opportunity in the US and asked if I would like to take it. With great support of my family, I emailed her back in one week with a big YES.

Stacki Yu

How was it to get accustomed to the US culture?

There is a learning curve to get accustomed to the US culture together with my husband. Kohler company kindly offered me 3-month short-term assignment in 2013 which is a great taste of local life and workplace. However, we still experienced the learning curve from culture shock, depression, acceptance and then integration. Now we enjoy Wisconsin cheese so much, but at the same time also cook Chinese food to please our Chinese stomach! 

As a woman did you face any hurdles in your career? How did you overcome them?

I don’t blame any difficulties in my career on my gender. Just tried my best to overcome difficulties no matter what gender I am.

With such a vast professional experience what does society expect from you?

In most cultures society usually expects women to take more family responsibilities which is unfair to both women and men.

What major differences did you experience between China and US in approach towards a working woman?

As part of Chinese culture, Chinese grandparents usually help to take care of kids which allow most working mums to continue their career. Also, there is longer maternity leave policy in China. However, working women in both countries are facing similar challenges of being stereotyped, such as less trust in their leadership. There is a typical word in Chinese, that means a man of a woman. The word is used to describe strong and successful female leaders, but sounds more like a rude joke than a compliment.  

What are the latest observations on gender gap the world over?

According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2018, China ranked a little bit below the global average. I also observe female peers in US take more family responsibilities than their partners like taking care of kids that they have to pause or even end their career. Although no companies would admit that, as an HR, I know it’s a fact that quite a lot employers prefer to hire male workers as they don’t need to take maternity leave.

You are blessed with a daughter recently. A wife, mother and Manager, how do you balance your professional and family life?

My husband and family play a great role to support me. My husband doesn’t think he is HELPING me to do the housework or taking care of the kid. It’s not a wife- or mum-only job but a shared responsibility of both.

By the way, it’s an interesting question. Almost all female leaders have been asked the similar question while only a few male leaders will face the same question, isn’t  it?

Stacki with Clement (husband)  and Jean (daughter)

Your opinion on ‘Gender Equality’.

People should have equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender. Everyone should be treated as equal only because of yourself instead of your gender. For example, genderequality means --“how you balance your work and family life” should not be a female-only question.

Your achievements to date.

As for every mum, my baby is my biggest achievement so far. I also built up the Kohler Asia Pacific & India HR shared services team. I am leading the standardization of Kohler global HR share services with dozens of successful HRIT projects.

The most memorable moment of your career.

Every time I listen to my heart and say yes or no to an important decision of my career.

What is your message to women and girls out there who are struggling to prove themselves?

"Life is not defined by gender. You define it yourself."

Stacki Yu can be reached at Linked-in and Facebook


First Published: 16-Jan-2019- 15:13