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Living life to the fullest
Published on Friday, 18 Feb 2011
Eva Leung, Executive Director, The Nielson Company

Describing herself as a typical Libra, Eva Leung has always sought a good balance between work and family life. That, though, required a number of adjustments last year, during which she became a first-time mother to twin daughters, who are now eight months old, while continuing in her senior role with one of the world's leading market research organisations.

"You just have to try harder on both sides," says Leung of her expanding career and family responsibilities. "It also comes down to spending quality time on the right matters with the right people." She notes that the steps leading to her job as executive director for retail measurement with The Nielsen Company Hong Kong taught her how to make hard tasks manageable.

One of the key skills in doing effective market research is to understand what you and the client want to achieve and why. That intelligence, and the mindset that goes with it, makes it possible to meet complex customer expectations and to adapt quickly to new situations.

"It's a question of asking yourself how you can add value and what you can do differently to raise the bar," says Leung, who graduated from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and has more than 11 years' experience in retail tracking.

"As time is always limited, you have to create a system that allows you to get quality information and learn from the best."

On the work front, applying that principle has made her an expert in the digital world of tablets, smartphones, online surveys and homescan devices that are changing the ways consumers buy and researchers collect data.

In family matters, it has made her a fan of books by Japanese author Kenichi Omae, whom she praises for writing with perception and foresight about everything from child care and education to broader aspects of economics.

"He advocates more quality time with children instead of pushing them through a series of classes," Leung says.

"I recently finished his Choices After 50 in which he gives advice on how to reset and enjoy your life. I'm glad I read the book way before getting to the age of 50."

To cope with the challenges of leadership, business growth, changing technology and motherhood, Leung says that certain qualities definitely help. Foremost among those are self-discipline and persistence, but it also helps to see life as a succession of opportunities and equip oneself to make the most of them as they arise. "I am not the sort of person to set a three- or five-year target," Leung says.

"But I am succinct, good at taking action, unafraid of difficulties, and want to live each area of my life to the fullest."

At work, these days involve keeping a close eye on the impact of mainland shoppers in Hong Kong, retailers' use of social media to engage target consumers, and the drive for better quality assurance.

Leung's interests away from the office continue to expand, while providing occasion to recharge her batteries.

This year, she started a course on interior design and home decoration, while yoga and badminton are part of her weekly routine.

"To be fully engaged in your work and family, it is important to take time out to exercise and recharge," Leung says. "To help find a balance, I like to take up a new hobby every year."