Balancing parenthood and business is no easy feat, but anyone who says it cannot be done has not met the dynamic women who do it every day.
The road to success is fraught with challenges, but with a solid mix of intelligence, creativity and sheer determination, these ladies have managed to juggle the demands of mummydom and the pressures of the contemporary work environment, and come through with flying colours. Read on and be inspired by the lives and times of these inspiring and successful mums:
1. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg is living proof that you can have your cake and eat it too. In 2012, the mother-of-two became the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board and was named the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Prior to that, she was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, and had served as chief of staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury.
Today, she is estimated to have a net worth of over US$1billion (RM3.68billion)!
Despite her successes, Sandberg addressed existing barriers that are preventing women from taking leadership roles in the workplace, which include discrimination, blatant and subtle sexism, and sexual harassment in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013).
She continues to encourage mothers with careers to opt out of the parent-or-career woman dichotomy and firmly choose both.
2. Mary Kay, founder of Mary Kay, Inc.
When Mary Kay Ash “retired” from a career in direct sales in 1963 at age 54, she set out to write a book for women to help them navigate the trials in a male-dominated business world.
In the process of detailing her own experiences and how she could improve on them, she realised she had inadvertently created a marketing plan for a dream company that would provide an avenue for women to achieve personal and financial success.
Armed with her life savings of US$5,000 and the help of her 20-year-old son Richard Roghers, Kay launched her direct selling company in September 1963.
In 2011, Mary Kay Inc. was named the sixth largest direct selling company in the world by Direct Selling News. It was estimated to have made net sales of US$2.9 billion.
Mary Kay passed away at age 95 in 2004, leaving behind a legacy that now stands as proof that it is never too late to start living your dreams.
3. Estée Lauder, founder of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
Young Estée grew up watching her uncle, Dr. John Schotz (a chemist) sell beauty products such as creams, lotions and fragrances, and has been stuck with the idea of becoming a glamourous skin-specialist since.
She married Joseph Lauter (they later changed their name to Lauder), a successful textile merchant, in her early 20s and had her first child at age 25, but that did not stop Lauder from continuing to refine and improve her uncle’s creams, cooking up concoctions on her kitchen stove.
The couple separated in 1939, but remarried in 1942. She had her second child at age 36 in 1944.
Through it all, Lauder endeavoured to pursue her dreams. They came into fruition in 1953, when she introduced her first fragrance, Youth Dew, a bath oil that doubled up as a perfume. It sold 50,000 in the first year. By 1984, the figure had jumped to 150 million.
In a 1985 interview, Lauder explained the secret of her success: “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.”
In the end, it is her wit, tenacity and pure determination that has shaped the successful woman she became.
4. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia
Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz is the first woman to be appointed as central bank governor in Malaysia and Asia. She is also the first woman to be within the top ten rankings for central bank governors of the world.
A mother-of-two, Zeti’s determination to the Malaysian economy out of the doldrums during the 1998 Asian financial crisis was evident when she went ahead to peg the Ringgit against the US dollar and banned offshore trading of the Malaysian currency despite numerous criticisms and pressures from many quarters.
These drastic measures paid off in 2005 when foreign exchange rules were relaxed and the Ringgit began to strengthen against the US dollar.
She made headlines in 2011 when a renowned Bloomberg columnist, William Pesek named her as a candidate for the post of International Monetary Funds (IMF) president following the resignation of its former president.
5. Dato’ Maznah Hamid, group executive chairman of Securiforce Group
Dato’ Maznah Hamid is known as the Iron Lady of Malaysia and for a very good reason. Born in Kedah, the mother-of-five started her business with just RM5,000 compared to other companies of similar nature that began with capitals between RM500,000 to a million.
Determined to succeed, the visionary mother steered Securiforce from an unknown entity to become the largest security provider in Malaysia in a span of nearly three decades.
Today, she heads nearly 50 branches with almost 5,000 employees. Securiforce’s services span from static guard, logistics, cash-in-transit, cash management, high-tech cargo management, and armoured trucking.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of her success story was that all her companies were established without any aid from banking institutions. This has gained the savvy mummypreneur much admiration and respect from her peers and competitors alike.
She continues to inspire Malaysians with her outstanding leadership qualities and distinguished entrepreneurship through her motivational talks and programmes
6. Datuk Yvonne Chia, former group managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Leong Bank Bhd
Datuk Yvonne Chia holds the distinction for being the first woman to head a Malaysian commercial bank and is best known for her position as the group managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Leong Bank Bhd, of which she retired from June 2013 after 12 years.
There, she oversaw the RM5.06billion takeover and integration of EON Bank Bhd into Hong Leong Bank, which took some 15 months to complete.
She was also the chairman of AFC Merchant Bank Ltd until June 30, 2013, and also served as chief executive officer of RHB Bank Bhd from 1996 to 2002.
In 2014, she was appointed to the board of Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd as a non-executive director. She is also a director of Shell Refining Company (Federation of Malaya) Bhd.
While finance is still widely regarded as a man’s domain, Chia, a mother-of-three said: “To me, I’ve never looked at it from a standpoint of whether it’s a man or woman (on the job). I look at it from a perspective that they see me as a right candidate for the job.”
All in all, these savvy mummies prove that regardless how old you are, where you live, or whatever circumstances you’re in, you can fulfill your career goals and be successful if you put your heart and soul into it!