In conversation with Pui Chi Li, head of marketing for the Middle East and Africa region of Xerox’s Developing Markets Operations.
What are the challenges you have faced because of being a woman?
The transition to a working mother has been one of the greatest challenges to date. Prior to children, I had total control over time allocation. For example, I could travel for work at short notice and work late at the office as and when I needed to without much consideration.
How have you dealt with these challenges?
It has taken me some time, but I have developed more discipline in terms of my time management to ensure both work and my family gets the time they need and to plan meticulously both professionally and personally and to accept assistance when offered.
Knowing what is important to me was the first step to dealing with my work-life balance challenge. My priority is and will always be my family – this clarity gives me focus in the workplace. Using the right tools such a technology and new mobile working techniques helps me make better use of my time so that I can be a present mother and a strong contributor to the workplace. I also ensure that I carve out small pockets of time for myself to refocus and assess, this helps me achieve small course corrections and avoid dramatic changes in directions that are difficult and tumultuous.
How do you think the regional industry is faring in terms of encouraging and empowering women in the workplace especially in senior positions?
Since joining the workforce just over a decade ago, I have seen significant shifts in the occurrence of female executives in critical, high profile jobs. Regardless of the role, company or industry, we need to recognize the importance of strong examples for the next generations to follow – to encourage and inspire. Having resilient, capable female leaders in positions of power will continue to give this movement continued momentum.
From my personal experience, I have been fortunate to build my career in the progressive environment that Xerox embraces which has meant I had the full breadth of opportunity and support to succeed.
When designing a marketing strategy, how does one target women? Is there a change in the conversation?
Females make purchasing decisions for different reasons than men do. Therefore, it is important to understand the psychographics of your audience when designing a marketing strategy. When it comes to females, we should consider that they have diverse interests that influence their decision-making process.
Rather, she is a mother, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur, a leader and an educated decision maker.
Is it imperative for brands to take a stance on women’s empowerment and participate in social change movements such as #MeToo and (yes or no) why?
While movements such as #MeToo have helped raise the profile of female empowerment, for this to continue and be pervasive beyond a social media phenomenon, major brands, corporations and organizations must take up the cause from an operational stand point. Putting in place policies is not enough, they must be fully integrated into an organization’s culture, installing female leaders through merit throughout the management structure and closely monitoring the succession planning to include female talent are just a few of the things brands can do to really contribute to this movement.
What is your advice to young women looking to make it big in the industry?
Understanding the field you’re working in is critical and spending time interacting with customers is the best way to achieve this. My advice is to spend time with the full spectrum, from the large corporate customers with printing facilities all the way to the smaller print houses who run on a shoe string budget, because each represents a learning opportunity on how to add value to the customer.
You also need to define what you want and what matters most to you; go into the details and thoroughly understand the layers and different elements involved in your work field. This will form your core values and stake on the ground, which will drive everything you do to achieve your business goals. Women in the workplace frequently take on an amicable persona and lose sight of their own goals in favor of other pressures and demands. Thus, having a clear goal in mind will help you overcome these challenges.
And finally, what is your advice to men (young or old, junior or senior) when it comes to their attitude toward women in the workplace?
Attitudes to women in the workplace have been so long standing that in some cases it can be fully ingrained into a company’s culture. Overcoming this can be a long process of re-education involving different actions such a mentoring and behavior benchmarking. If there was one ask for men in the workplace, it is to look at everyone based on merit and ability. Look beyond the gender, assess and focus on the work. This will allow women to do their work fairly and for the business to gain maximum benefit.
Pui Chi Li is the head of marketing for the Middle East and Africa region of Xerox’s Developing Markets Operations. She was appointed to this position in May 2016 and is based in the UK. Chi manages all aspects of marketing and communications activities, technology product and offering management, strategic pricing, sales enablement and lead generation initiatives in more than 70 countries comprising the Middle East and Africa region. Chi is also a member of the senior leadership team, leading business and market connected strategy. Prior to Xerox, Chi worked for Ricoh as a product manager, responsible for the product life cycle management of the printer segment for the Western Europe market. Chi joined Xerox Developing Markets Operations in April 2007 as Product Manager, responsible for Printers & A4 MFP. Chi joined MEA in 2012 as a Line of Business Manager for Entry Products. Her responsibilities included managing high volume business in Middle East & Africa and CDG region by working with partners in country to drive business growth. Chi is a graduate from City University, Business School in London studying Business Studies & Finance.