Grace Lau is Head of SMB Content at RingCentral, where she does equal parts writing, editing, and content strategy. Grace lives and breathes the written word. Literally. She loves writing so much that she does it for work and then keeps writing (mainly poetry) in her free time.
How did you break into leadership?
It happened pretty organically, actually. I had been working in senior-level copywriter/content writer roles for six-ish years. Gradually, the breadth and depth of my work grew to the point where strategy and editing became the focal points, which led to me starting to manage writers.
What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?
I think every woman in tech leadership faces different challenges, depending on things like how they present, their ethnicity… I can only speak for myself.
For me, I think as an Asian woman who’s always kind of looked younger than I am, sometimes it has taken more time to build credibility and earn respect for my work.
I’ve had a few of the “usual” things happen (I hate that I consider these the “usual” but that’s the way it is): men talking over me in meetings, men trying to take credit for my work in front of me. Whether you’re in a leadership position or not, that wears on you after a while.
How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
Fighting imposter syndrome is definitely an ongoing process. I’m relatively new in a managerial position, and I’m still learning every day. So, it’s a great breeding ground for imposter syndrome.
The weird thing is that Iknow my work speaks for itself, I have full confidence in my experience and skills as a writer—but that nagging voice is still there in the back of my head. I don’t hear it as much now, but it took a lot of work to get there. My partner told me something interesting once: “The way you feel is real, but what the voice is saying is not always true.” And that’s really helped me whenever those imposter-y thoughts come up.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would’ve definitely spoken up more quickly. Like, “Hey, nah. That’s literally what I just said” instead of addressing it much later or not addressing it all. Resolving things quickly is good. If they didn’t intend to do it, then they know the crappy thing they’re unintentionally doing. And if they did intend to do it, they know not to try it again with you.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Probably a toss-up between finding out my ad agency partner and I won bronze in the Canadian Cannes Lion competition (near the beginning of my career) and owning SMB Content at the biggest, and probably most exciting, organization I’ve worked for (now!).
Share something interesting or valuable with the community.
Brené Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability is probably a top-5 video for me. It fundamentally changed the way I perceived strength and weakness, both in professional and personal contexts.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
Thanks to Jes Kirkwood who conducted this interview in July 2020.