Women We Know #27 - Monica Zhuang
Monica is the COO of Hashmeta , a digital marketing agency in Singapore. After graduating from Lasalle College of the Arts with a Bachelor in Visual Communications, she went to join Creative Technology as a User Interaction Designer. Her passion for design has never ceases to grow ever since. Today, she’s the proud co-founder of a successful start-up. Together with her team of 18 young, passionate individuals, she envisions Hashmeta as a game-changer within the digital world and the preferred digital marketing agency for every brand’s digital transformation.
Who and what do you think of when you hear “Fearlessly Female”?
Gal Gadot. A lady who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and others - a powerful individual who remains steadfast in her values and beliefs when it gets rough.
Do you have a female leader you admire in your life?
Not really, but I greatly respect and look up to my grandma. Her generosity towards everyone is for all to see. That’s why it’s no surprise that every Chinese New Year, relatives and visitors young and old would flock to her home to pay respect and show their gratitude.
She is also someone who won’t tolerate any form of hypocrisy or injustice, which I feel is essential to survival, particular in the business world. No matter the opponent, she is definitely fearless when it comes to wanting to set the record straight and treats everyone equally.
What is the one thing that scares you the most and want to try at least once?
I have acrophobia. Sad to say, I may look tall and tough but the thought of doing a bungee jump or skydive is something that leaves me in cold sweat. Having said that, I'm a Sagittarius through and through. I would definitely want to try bungee jumping or skydiving at least once in my life before I kick the bucket.
Monica is wearing Mu.Lan Ruffled 2-piece set SKU 1802
What is the hardest life hurdle you’ve gone through and what did you take away from it?
I consider myself blessed and I am thankful for that. In all honesty, I haven't truly experienced a hurdle so difficult that I hadn’t been able to overcome it. I am the kind of woman who will do her best to handle whatever comes along. If it’s too much even for me, I’m not shy to seek help.
That said, there are difficult times. Some months, when my partners and I held our monthly review meetings and news came that we were losing some accounts/clients - I would panic for a moment. But I’m still an optimist in the end, and I won’t let I these pitfalls to affect my emotions and performance.
Looking back, I’ve experienced worse. I was working full-time at a start-up and the company was having problems with their cash flow. We ended up with no pay for two entire months, and it was terrible. Since then, I’ve stood by my motto: no matter what happens, pay our staff first. To do that, I need to work hard and keep our bottom line healthy.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
I take my employees’ welfare and livelihood very seriously. Whenever things get tough, I’ll remind myself that I have a team to feed and told myself to hang in there.
What is the one life lesson you learned that can’t be taught in school?
Action beats reaction. Oftentimes, clients can go overboard with their demands, which leads to much unhappiness on both sides. When this happens, I’m the one who will step in and stand up for the team. There were times when I looked back and thought I probably shouldn’t have reacted - they are paying us to do the job after all. But there’s always a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
That being said, I don't go around picking fights with my clients for no reason. I try to put myself in their shoes, and work things out so they get done quickly, and they get done right.
What is your definition of success?
I grew up in an environment success is measured by where you study and which university you graduate from. I detest the notion that getting a degree naturally offers you a job you love and the security that comes with it.
To me, success means having a high level of job satisfaction and contentment. Although it’s been 5 years since I’ve started the company and longer still since my very first website design project, I still treat every new client and project with the same sense of excitement and anticipation. In that sense, I believe I have lived up to my own definition of success , managing my company while doing what I like.
If you weren’t working in the job you are in now, what would you be doing instead?
YouTube Beauty Guru. Before beauty vloggers were all the rage on YouTube, I remembered being one of the first few Singaporean who were sharing makeup tips online. I managed to gather about 500 subscribers in 6 months, and I was really motivated to keep creating new content. That was back in 2010. I’ve stopped doing makeup tutorials once I got myself a full-time job and had no time to commit to this hobby. Plus, it’s quite an expensive hobby.
What is your ideal holiday?
I’m a city girl. My ideal holiday is wake up at anytime I want, and then hit the cafes to people watch or read a book. I also like going to the beach. It’d be a dream to go to Maldives and sip cocktail on the sundeck or doze off in a hammock, without interruption from emails and texts.
What or who are your style influences?
Rihanna. A sartorial risk taker, I like how she puts together a comfortable and effortless look while exuding a confident vibe.
What three values are most important to you?
Commitment - I personally do not believe in work-life balance. I don’t think that a leader like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates would have been successful today if they choose to leave work on time everyday. If you want something badly enough, you will commit yourself to the project and see it through.Optimism - I believe strongly in the laws of attraction. All thoughts turn into things eventually. If I could spend time harping on the bad financial report, why not spend all that effort to find ways to turn it around?
Gratitude - I’ve never really expressed this outwardly to anyone but deep down in my heart, I am thankful to my parents and sister who support my decision to start my own business. Another quote that I always live by, “never bite the hand that feeds you.”
Monica is wearing Turquoise Porcelain bomber jacket and tights SKU 1706
Living in a sunny climate, what are some of your must-haves when it comes to your skin?
Sunblock, facial mist and mask. If I don’t have any sunblock, I’d at least make sure that I have foundation on. With combination skin, I can get breakouts and dryness on the face at the same time. Keeping a facial mist at hand ensures that I hydrate my skin enough so I don’t break out. And since I I put on makeup everyday for work, I will use facial masks at least 3 times a week as part of my deep cleansing and hydrating routine.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
Jumping from the edge of a waterfall.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t really have a five-year vision. I’m currently focusing all efforts on bringing up the service level of my company, as well as helping my team develop professionally. I always believe that when you know how to work hard and smart, good things will come eventually.
Is there a song lyric or a quote you live by?
It’s a coincidence but the first question is similar to the personal quote that I’ve been wanting to get inked on my forearm – Be Fearless, Stay Fearless.
Special Thanks to Lyndel Joyce fromNew Majestic Hotel