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.
Ioana Kraft moved to Shanghai with her husband 13 years ago and has been developing her career ever since. Always comfortable with living abroad, she was born in Romania, and was brought up in North Africa and Germany. When she first arrived in Shanghai, Ioana worked for a German law firm. She joined the European Union Chamber of Commerce Shanghai one year later and has been with them ever since. She now has two beautiful girls Lily (7) and Friday (11) who were born and raised in Shanghai. Their original plan was to stay for two years, but Ioana and her family now find themselves calling Shanghai home where both her work and home life have blossomed.
Give us your 30-second blurb about your career.
I had more of an academic background prior to moving to Shanghai, teaching at a university and doing my PhD in international law. At the European Chamber we represent European business in China and we lobby for greater market access. Our work is more focused on policy and it is very related to what I was doing before. There is always something new to do with the changing social and economic development and this is what keeps the job interesting for me. I have been in my current role as the general manager of the European Chamber for seven years now.
Has anything about your career surprised you?
Not really. I was always interested in doing something related to international relations, so this comes pretty close to what I imagined. I studied law and I would do it all over again, but I had always wanted to put it into a more international perspective.
Have you always wanted to work abroad?
Yes, but I had always imagined myself working in Latin America. However, my husband’s job has more of an Asian focus and I was open to any part of the world, and we found ourselves here in Shanghai.
How do you manage balancing your home and work life?
It’s challenging so I have to work a lot with my calendar and stay organized. I am very lucky to have had so much support over the years. For example, we had an ayi that was with us for nine years and we are still close; she is like a grandmother to my children. It’s all about efficiency and I make sure I get home in time for the kids. I sometimes work in the evenings after they go to bed and catch up on emails and things I didn’t get to finish earlier.
What are the key differences in working in China versus working in Europe?
Compared to Europe, everything here is much less predictable and things happen on short notice. It is an interesting aspect of my job because anything can happen at any time.
Is it important for you to be a role model in terms of a working mom for your kids?
Yes, it is. I didn’t actually realize it because it’s just the way it has always been for me. My mother worked while I was growing up, so it was always a give-in for me that I would have a career. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on my girls until recently. But I do notice them mentioning that they like having a working mom. Of course I get complaints here and there from them, but generally they are happy with me having a career.
If you could tell your 25-year-old self anything, what would it be?
Just believe in things happening and it will happen.
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