With more women taking on leadership roles in business, they face the inevitable challenge of reconciling the demands of a fast-paced career with other priorities in their lives. Appointed as chief executive of Tse Sui Luen Jewellery in March, Annie Tse Yau On-yee has done this by regularly reminding herself that, while work is important, family still comes first.
Although she is the daughter-in-law of the firm's founder and wife of the former chairman, Tse never succumbed to the temptation of being a "tai tai". Having graduated from Boston University with a degree in computer engineering, she wanted to play a full and active part.
"When I first joined the company in 2002, I obviously had to learn the basics, starting with product knowledge and the 4Cs [cut, carat, colour and clarity] of diamonds," she says. "After that, I joined the IT department to help improve the workflow with a new computer system. It wasn't always easy explaining to colleagues why we had to change. But thanks to the fact that we have excellent employees who are also very loyal to the company, it was possible to make change part of the corporate culture and complete each project successfully. The experience also allowed me to learn a lot more about people management."
Now responsible for the full scope of the business, Tse expects new challenges every day. She admits it can be difficult at times, but has found the approach that works best for her is to focus on one thing at a time.
"You have to fully concentrate on what you are doing," she says. "If you are doing one thing but thinking about something else, you are never going to be as effective or successful as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done and I'm still learning. But I believe it is best to train yourself to focus consciously on one task at a time and let go of the others until you are ready to deal with them. I have found myself getting better and better at this."
Despite shouldering more company responsibilities, Tse understands that it is no excuse for spending less time with her family. As a mother of two, she firmly believes in the need for quality time with her children - something she cherishes - and has no wish to delegate her maternal duties to anyone else.
She emphasises that parents must be there to offer care, comfort and to give advice, and to act as suitable role models. This is the key to building and maintaining good relationships with one's children, helping them overcome problems and to see that life has its ups and downs.
Emphasising her view that a healthy lifestyle and good family relationships underpin any success in life, Tse suggests that business women should not fall into the trap of working long hours. Even when things aren't going too well, it is always important to be positive.
"We tend to see the dark side of every situation," she says.
"However, with just a small effort, you will surely find something bright and meaningful to focus on, even if it is just the chance to learn from a bad experience. If you think positively, you can always move forward."
Focus on success
Studied computer science because she was good at mathematics and logic, and wanted to prove herself against male classmates
Encourages senior executives to speak out openly and to treat her no differently from any other colleague
Main business target is to open more high-end outlets on the mainland