Kathy Phan: Super-Mom On The Job
For those who attended ASW Vietnam’s 2022 Year-End Party, you might have caught Kathy’s beautiful dance performance. This dedicated HR Generalist and mother of three glows with positivity, despite the challenges that she faces with both roles. Discover how she handles this with grace under pressure, what inspires her, and where she gets her superpowers!
1. Hi Kathy, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies and interests?
I’ve been with ASW for seven years (since December 2015). It’s been a great journey with wonderful people. I’m a more family-oriented woman now. Being a mom with three kids can be hard, but what remains is the happiness from seeing them grow. Sometimes, only a hug from them or saying “I love you mom” can instantly turn me into a super-mom. I also love dancing and rose planting. Dancing keeps me fit and seeing roses helps ease my soul.
2. How did you start at ASW? What’s a regular day like for you in the office?
I first started as an executive assistant for our COO. Two years later, I moved to HR and I’ve been working as an HR generalist since then. An HR job requires compliance to the law in an extremely detailed manner. It’s also about getting others to understand and be happy to follow the rules, which is a more challenging job. My typical day would include 30% answering inquiries from stakeholders, 30% managing HR information systems, and 40% with calculation and paperwork.
3. You recently performed at the ASW Year-End party. What do you enjoy most about dancing?
I’ve always enjoyed singing and dancing since kindergarten. I took part in group performances in school just for entertainment. Dancing is not only a way to keep fit but it’s also a time when I can feel myself, forget every other thing around. It’s just me, flowing with the melody.
4. How do you manage your responsibilities as a mother and as a career woman? How do you achieve work-life balance?
I always plan my workday, work week, and work month as much as possible. When ad-hoc tasks happen, I will discuss with others to re-prioritise the task list. I also find ways to increase my productivity and save time. I’m always asking myself, “Is there a better way?”
Playing both roles as a mother and as a career woman is a long-term challenge. I think the tip is to discover your motives, especially the intrinsic ones. You will then enjoy being at either role, think more positively during hardships, and drive further at each role. Take care of your body and soul, too. Enrich your own life!
Finally, I’m so lucky to get understanding and support both at work and at home. My colleagues are willing to re-prioritise my tasks when ad-hoc tasks happen or when my kids get sick. My mother and my husband are happy to take over my housewife duties when I come home late from work. There’s so much love I get from them. I’m so grateful.
5. Can you share a time when you had to overcome a challenge as a woman in your career?
I realised how tough it was to be both a good mother and a dedicated employee, especially when I returned to work after my six-month maternity leave. It was peak season for HR when there were plenty of annual reports and tax paperwork. I was so stressed out and almost burned out, taking turns to play both roles with little rest. I was just telling myself to see the positive side of each role. I divided the workload into smaller groups and planned for each workday. I had great support around me, physically and mentally, to help me get through the crisis.
Now, it’s peer pressure which is my on-going challenge. When you slow down or even postpone your professional development for pregnancy and raising your child for years, your peers have made a far jump. I’m now on my plan to speed up and catch up with them.
6. Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired or mentored you in your personal or professional life? What have you learned from her?
I’m so lucky to have met several senior sisters who have inspirational stories to tell. One of them has shed light on my way to pursue work-life balance. She has contributed to my faith on the brighter side of everything. She sowed the seed of love and forgiveness in me. I was taught to believe that something is good or bad depending on your point of view. Don’t blame others for what comes to you. Look back on yourself and fix yourself first.
7. This year’s theme for Women’s Month is Embrace Equity. How do you practise or encourage equity in the workplace?
I believe what the company can do to embrace equity is to nurture the culture that both female and male employees are given equal opportunities and access to challenge themselves and grow at work. Besides, there can be additional support for women such as hybrid working, childcare leave, flexible working hours, and training sponsorships so that female staff can speed up in their professional growth.
8. What do you consider your top 3 achievements (whether at ASW or in your personal life)?
The first is giving birth to three kids. I never thought I could! The second is to manage work-life balance, to play both roles as a mother and as a career woman. The third, I’m trying to achieve it now. I love to learn more and grow at my professional career.
9. Is there a personal or professional goal that you’ve always wanted to accomplish?
To have a peaceful home that’s breezy and with rose trees. I’d also like to achieve a personal brand at work: trustworthy and performing at the best competency.
10. Thanks for your time! Before we go, what inspirational message or career advice would you like to share with your fellow female colleagues at ASW?
I would say ASW has been giving me the chance to enjoy my professional and personal journey, to become both a brave mother and a dedicated employee. Girls, don’t ever doubt your future career at ASW as a female or if you have babies. The company will have its unique way to support!