There are many hard working moms in Shanghai. In this series, we talk to working moms from different backgrounds and industries about their motivations, family life, experiences and what they have learned along the way.
Originally from Italy, Tiziana Figliolia is seriously passionate about both her work and home life. She, her husband and her 11-year-old boy Sam moved to Shanghai eight years ago so she could pursue the career of her dreams in finance.
Working hard towards her career goals, building a strong family and volunteering on the side, Tiziana is a busy woman with a strong support system. Here, she gives us a glimpse into her work and home life and tells us why she does all she does.
Give us your 30-second blurb about your career.
The majority of my career has been in finance, so right now I am a Senior VP of Finance for a software company and I have always been in the technology industry. I’m passionate about technology, even if I’m not a tech person, and I love working in a technology space. I went back to school while I was living here in Shanghai and got my MBA at USC. In doing so, I became really passionate about strategy. For a couple of years, I rotated out of finance and ran strategy and strategic planning for Asia Pacific with my previous company. So, I’m a bit of a hybrid person when it comes to my functional role.
Tell me about your volunteer role outside of work.
International Professional Women’s Society (IPWS) is a non-profit that has been around for about 24 years in Shanghai. The goal of the organization is to connect like-minded professional women. Three years ago, I joined IPWS as its Vice President as a way to give back to the community, and for the last two years, I’ve been serving as the President.
Have you always wanted to live and work abroad?
I did. I moved right after I graduated in Italy and I moved to San Francisco for an internship. They ended up hiring me so I went from being an intern to an assistant controller there. I love the freedom and the experience of living in a different city when you’re young, especially San Francisco. I still call San Francisco home and my family’s home base.
What are the biggest challenges for you with balancing home and work life?
It’s not about work-life balance;there is no such thing because you can never actually balance it. It’s about integration, which is a much better word. If I go home I can’t switch off work, and when I got to the office, I can’t switch off home. It’s about managing my time and the flexibility that I build into my career because you need flexibility to take care of both the best way possible. For me, probably, what I haven’t done yet is taking care of myself more. I leave that last and I think I need to include that in my integration process in a better way.
How has working in Shanghai been different to working in the US?
From a family perspective, it’s much easier and more cost effective. There is more flexibility here with the ayi and, for me, my husband [who stays at home]. It is easier to live here in some ways and some people go back [to their home countries] and they experience culture shock [due to] not having help. From a work perspective, well, it’s a little different for me because I’ve almost always had a middle management team which has filtered my interactions with the China ecosystem. But last year, I changed roles, and now my scope is different and I have a large team here; it’s challenging sometimes.
For your son’s development, do you find it important for you to work?
You know it’s funny, I would have thought so. But he is 11 and he comes up with stuff like, “boys are better” and “girls are weak.” I think he will realize [it’s not true] when he gets older. Even though he says [things like] that to me, I can see he is proud of me when he thinks I’m not looking.
If you could tell your 25-year-old self anything, what would it be?
Do what you love. Always.