Patricia Pinto: Promoting Equity by Example
Patricia is a 5-year Loyalty Awardee at AS White Global and a copywriter for one of our client partners. This self-confessed ambivert uses the best of both worlds to pursue her passion projects and to encourage others to own their agency. Patricia is truly an inspiring woman in her own right. Learn more about her professional insights, the career woman that she looks up to, and her simple but effective habit that has helped others to find their own voice.
1. Hi Patricia, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies and interests?
Hi! I’m an ambivert — I have a lot of features of an introvert (hello, writing!) and an extrovert (yay gatherings!). This has led to some interesting hobbies. I’m currently into fountain pens and mechanical keyboards. Both are somewhat solitary hobbies in which you’re crafting an experience just for yourself, but the community support has been invaluable in helping me explore what works and doesn’t work for me.
2. How did you start at ASW? Tell us more about your role. What’s a regular day like for you?
I joined ASW as I was looking for both a career change and the opportunity to get out of central KL. What intrigued me most was the breadth and depth of knowledge I’d need to master. It’s amazing what you can do with waste on an industrial/business scale, rather than focusing on the individual, which is the message most of us get here in Malaysia. My role as a copywriter meant I needed to both master and communicate the concepts I was learning to a wide audience, with a focus on practical and usable information.
A typical day involves a quick check of my emails and JIRA board. I sort my tasks according to deadline, priority and complexity, with regular breaks throughout the day to ensure my brain is refreshed between tasks. The Pomodoro method is my favourite way to get started on a complex project.
3. Tell us about “Prose-ACK!”, the writers’ collective that you co-founded in Malaysia. How did this come about?
Prose-ACK! began when a close friend and I wanted to sell our stories at CAFKL (Comic Art Festival Kuala Lumpur). We were the only text-based seller at a comic-centric event. Later, we grew to five regular members and worked with a zine group in Singapore called Pulp Toast to publish several themed anthologies.
4. What’s the hardest part about being a writer and how do you deal with it?
I write fiction (specifically spec fic) as a hobby, and the hardest part for me right now is finding the ending. Writing an ending that doesn’t just wrap up the plot but puts a full stop to the story is my biggest challenge. I’m reading a lot more slice-of-life novels like Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen and Hardboiled and Hard Luck for inspiration.
5. Congratulations on your fifth-year anniversary with AS White Global! How do you manage your responsibilities at work and at home? How do you achieve work-life balance?
One of the biggest things I had to learn was to ignore notifications after work. That’s been my biggest game changer. In my previous jobs, work often bled into off hours, and one was never quite “off.” My current work hours allow me to help my family with household responsibilities when others aren’t available. I set strict personal limits and taking time to unwind after work balances me.
6. Can you share a time when you had to overcome a challenge as a woman in your career?
Learning to say no. People-pleasing is one of the most common traits a female is taught through socialisation. When I was given more client-facing roles in the early part of my career, I had to learn how to say no to both clients and team members. This taught me how to manage expectations and seek solutions to achieve the client’s objectives, without compromising the welfare of my team members.
7. 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?
When I started out, I had a project manager named YW. She was a true career woman — a Senior Project Manager who was also a mother of two. She absolutely loved her job. We often joked that if she quit and decided to be a supermarket cashier, she’d eventually become a supervisor in a matter of weeks, because she was that driven to work.
YW was the first woman I knew in real life who focused on her career without making the “traditional” sacrifices. Most media portrayals and even my own upbringing insisted that even if the woman was working, it was still her responsibility to ensure her husband was fed by her cooking, the house kept tidy, and be her children’s primary caregiver. Mental load, anyone? YW showed me that I did not need to follow that path. That I could, and should, demand more from both my partner and myself. Ultimately, it was up to me to find what meaning I wanted from life and the path to live.
8. This year’s theme for Women’s Month is Embrace Equity. How do you practise or encourage equity in the workplace?
By ensuring everyone is heard and giving space to people’s comments, whether online or offline. I make it a point to keep an ear and eye out for people who start saying something and then stop because someone else speaks first. I will usually raise my hands and direct attention to them when the current speaker is done.
If (and it’s happened before) I happen to be the one speaking when they want to interject, I will usually apologise and ask them to let me finish, wrap up, and then explicitly ask them to speak before letting anyone else cut in. It’s a habit that fosters acceptance and ensures everyone gets to be heard.
9. What do you consider your top 3 achievements (whether at ASW or in your personal life)?
1 – Indirectly inspiring people around me to adopt the habit I mentioned. I’ve had friends and colleagues come up to me to say thank you for giving them the space to speak, and that they themselves have gone on to do the same.
2 -Speaking at the All In! Young Writers Festival in 2017 and inspiring people of all ages to write and publish their own stories.
3 – Being alive, right here and now.
10. Is there a personal or professional goal that you’ve always wanted to accomplish?
I want to write and publish a novel in another language. Not write in English and have it translated, but to write a novel from scratch in a non-native language. What language that is? Well, that’s for me to know!
11. 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?
We are all in the business of living. Know the value you bring and the potential you hold. Think of yourself as a business. Where do you see yourself in the future, career-wise and more importantly, personal-wise? Recognise that it will cost to reach your destination, but only you can decide what that cost (time? money? resources?) will be.