Bing Zhao is currently leading a team in Asia for the Norwegian company TOMRA. Bing is particularly focused on taking responsibility for her own well-being as a female leader, and constantly looks for the positives in life instead of cultivating the negatives.
Bing’s passion for sustainable development definitely shines through in her choice of path, and she describes that her career so far has had “a green thread”. First, she studied industrial engineering, specializing in energy and environment. After this, she started working in DNB, including financing green industries and renewable energy projects. Finally, she moved on to work for TOMRA. Here she was responsible for investor relations and strategy, before she was given the responsibility of developing their business in Asia.
While others may be career planning their whole life, Bing has been focusing on finding happiness and purpose in her work.
-As long as I am satisfied with my work, and feel a purpose, I am happy. If this changes, I will find other opportunities.
What are your thoughts on the #WomenMeanBusiness campaign?
-It is a good thing that everyone can come together and reflect a bit over their positions in life. (…) On this occasion, it is not about trying to show that we are being suppressed. I believe that we should rather focus on the positive aspects of women in the business world. For me, taking active decisions for change is the most important.
How do you experience being a female leader?
-Someone once said that being a leader is not really a position, it is more an action, being professional and setting a good example with the things you do.
What advice would you give future female leaders?
-With a purpose, everything comes easier. You should also be capable of explaining your purpose to others.
She emphasizes that good teamwork is crucial if you want to succeed with a project. According to Bing, it is fundamental in teamwork to not leave others behind, and let your employees find their own meaning. She adds that it is also important to make space for feedback.
-I like to work to empower, rather than to dictate things. Then everyone will feel that they have achieved something, and not just delivered a task to me.
Bing explains that confidence is a work in progress. Even though she has not always felt confident, she has built up her track record, experience and developed self confidence over time.
-A good advice is to fake it till you make it. We have to acknowledge that it is a journey. Even though you do not have confidence today, express yourself confidently. Do not overthink, or be overly sensitive about things. Women often question themselves and don’t dare to take their space. Stress a little less, jump into new experiences, and grab your opportunities. Dare to try, and dare to fail.
Has your gender had an effect on your career?
-Not much, it is easy to over-analyse things. If your focus is on your differences from others, I do not think that necessarily benefits you. At the same time, in certain regions and industries that are male-dominated, there can exist stereotypes. Possibly also towards younger people like myself. In situations like these I think okay, this is a surprise for you – and I love surprises.
Further, she points out that if people underestimate you, it can be easier to become an overachiever.
-I like the feeling, it is a form of motivation. In some situations it is better to be the underdog.