The Real Career Line — Su-Mei Thompson, CEO of The Women’s Foundation

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Su-Mei donating lunch and raising 116 volunteer hours

Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The rel="noopener nofollow">Optiver office as she shared the ups and downs of her career before landing the executive role at the Women’s Foundation and how she grew the organisations into one of Hong Kong’s leading non-profit for the advancement of women and the idea behind their latest campaign — #MyRealCareerLine.

Do you have a life motto you live by?

“I’ve never felt that anything is beneath me, but I’ve also never felt that anything is beyond me.

By which I mean, it doesn’t matter how small or how menial a task is, it has to be done — and I’ll do it. My whole career has been little steps of ‘oh, I did that? I did that?’ I feel I can pretty much do most things I can put my mind to.”

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From Disney to Christie’s and The Women’s Foundation, you’ve gone through many different careers.

At this stage, what advice would you give to your 25 year old self?

“Sheryl Sandberg has a phrase: to ‘lean in’. In your 20s, you don’t have your own family yet or other responsibilities. It is your time to throw yourself into your work and into every opportunity you have to learn, to travel, to experience something new, to rack up opportunities to work with other groups.

The other thing is, while you’re doing that, try to forage your track record in your career.

Think about building a career in the context of your life, instead of trying to build your life in the context of your career.

Life is much more than work, and you need to try to feed those other interests and passions you have — whether it’s music or your faith or a sport — because work will not always go according to plan. You will hit obstacles and disappointments, and it’s those moments when everything else is a great consolation and will give you perspective and balance.”

How can people impress you?

“Humility. I think anyone who is self-aware or quite self-deprecating — that is always an appealing trait. I also like it if people are not too long-winded, and quite articulate. Ultimately, it is whether or not people have a passion. You can always see that. It can be a passion for anything — for work, for helping other people.”

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Time Auction volunteers participating in the #MyRealCareerLine campaign

What is one thing that you hope all of us can take away from meeting you today?

“Please show your support for “#MyRealCareerLine”, the Women’s Foundation campaign! We celebrate women from all walks of life, but also try to tackle sexism in the workplace. We really hope that employer organizations will work harder to ensure that women are judged based on objective standards and that appearance will not be such an important factor.”

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If you could nominate one person that you look up to and respect to be on Time Auction, who would it be?

“I am a huge fan of George Chen. He is the head of public policy of Facebook for Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Facebook is doing incredible things, I was lucky enough to be invited to be their Global Online Safety Summit in D.C. and it was such an eye opener. I thought Facebook was a social network, where you “friend” people or post pictures of your holiday, but there’s a huge range of other stuff they are doing using the latest technology. They’re doing incredible things in the online safety space and to support things that are happening offline. For example, I learnt about how they can help national child agencies when a child is abducted. It’s called the Amber Alert program, and within seconds they can put out a photo of the kid who went missing. With the Amber Alert program, they’ve saved a number of kids. I would recommend you have George!”

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Thank you Su-Mei for donating lunch and raising 116 volunteer hours to i-Future Teens International Foundation, Po Leung Kuk, Sowers Action, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong Christian Service and more! Also big thank you to Optiver for being our venue sponsor.

For upcoming experiences, visit Time Auction where you can meet Hong Kong’s most inspiring people by volunteering 10 hours to charity.

A few messages from the volunteers:


Love all your inspiring sharings, Su-Mei, thanks a lot. Will learn to go beneath and beyond in finding my real career life and live faithfully.


The meeting was way too short for someone as interesting and insightful as Su-Mei! I am particularly inspired by Su-Mei’s courage to pursue new opportunties, commitment to do her best in whatever she puts her mind into (whether it be law, media, arts or women’s issues) and her limitless energy levels! Thank you for donating a lunch Su-Mei!

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium:

Updated on 8 April, 2021
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