On June 23, Chinese milk tea chain Nayuki raised USD 656 million upon its debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, making it the first company of its kind to be publicly traded. It all started in 2014, when white-collar worker Peng Xin decided to create a brand that redefines tea-based beverages in China.
While managing the strategy of a company with some 500 shops across the country, Peng is also a mother of two young children. Recently, the founder, executive director, and general manager of Nayuki sat down with Oasis to reflect on the needs of working mothers.
Oasis (OS): How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Peng Xin (PX): I put around 80% of my energy into the company. In the meantime, I have to spend time with my two clingy kids—a two-year-old girl and a nine-month-old boy. They were surprised to see me this morning as I only got home after midnight.
When a woman becomes a mother, she undergoes a significant transformation, one which I think will improve her mindset, because she has to master the skill of multitasking.
OS: Who takes care of your children when you are focusing on Nayuki?
PX: We have a nanny. I realized how important it is to find the right nanny, which can be even more difficult than hiring a good executive.
There are many methods to recruiting executives. As long as I know what kind of person I have in mind, I will know which direction to look in. For example, if I want to take on a product executive, I’ll look at individuals who are with our competitors, and ask headhunts to approach them. But you can’t possibly know where the good nannies are.
I would hire an agency to help screen the candidates, but I still have to interview a large number of people before I find the right one.
I value experience, so the nanny needs to have at least ten years of experience. She must also have worked for the same family for at least three years, which would indicate her stability. I would also prefer to have a nanny born under the Cancer sign as Cancerians tend to be patient and family-oriented, so I would be confident about leaving my kids with them.
OS: How do you make the most out of the time you spend with your children?
PX: It is important to be there for your children, but it’s more important to spend quality time with them, show them your love, and give them attention while you’re with them.
Parents should devote their hearts and minds to strengthening the parent-child relationship, because they can tell when your mind is somewhere else. While all parents love their children, love is shown through deeds, such as reading to them or playing games with them.
In addition, working mothers should also set a good example for their children. I would bring my kids to places related to my work, including factories, tea mountains, and media event sites, so they can learn about my job. Once, my daughter told her dad, “Mom is amazing.” I asked why, but she couldn’t state a specific reason. I asked whether she thinks dad is amazing too, and she went silent.
OS: What kind of role model do you want to be for your children?
PX: Your children are always watching what you do and your demeanor will influence them. For example, there was one time when I took both kids to my hometown to see my grandmother. After my grandmother stepped out of the car, one of my kids said, “I want to help great grandma.” And she ran over to assist her immediately.
I don’t think being a role model for my children means that I want them to achieve certain goals. All I want is for them to have the qualities of a good person—kindness, integrity, helpfulness, and optimism.
OS: Now that your company is publicly traded, do you have a different perspective on being a female entrepreneur?
PX: In large companies, female executives are still in the minority.
I am surrounded by female entrepreneurs. Like any other women, we love to talk about our children the most, like their schooling and matters related to babysitting. We also discuss our relationships with our mothers-in-law.
I know many female entrepreneurs in the consumer goods business. A lot of them are quite successful because they’re sensitive about consumers’ needs. They can be perfectionists and are detail-oriented when it comes to product design.
I disagree with those who say that women can only manage small businesses, but I admit that female leaders may do things differently than men. We are in an era where there is an increasing need for synergy between different people, and I do see an increase in female executives and entrepreneurs. The business climate is becoming more inclusive and open.
OS: What’s important for working moms to succeed in their careers?
PX: There needs to be a support system for the kids that involves others, like from your parents or a reliable nanny. Then, you can devote more energy and time to your work.
Yuqian Shi made contributions to this story.