Leading Ladies: Zoe Zuo

by Portfolio Magazine
16 Mar 2023

Zoe Zuo is the Managing Director of Innovative Hub

This month, we celebrate some of Singapore’s fearless female leaders who have taken strides to implement change in their respective fields. From sharing their greatest challenges to learning about their leadership style, we find out how they’re making waves and shaking things up in traditionally male-led industries.

My leadership style… is centered around collaboration and open communication. I believe that the best results are achieved when everyone on the team feels heard and valued. I make a point to regularly check in with my team members and listen to their ideas and concerns. This helps me to understand their needs and ensure that they feel supported.

In terms of inspiring my female team members, I think it's important to lead by example. I want to show them that women can be successful and make a meaningful impact in their careers. I also make sure to give them opportunities for growth and development, and encourage them to take on new challenges. Furthermore, I believe that it's vital to foster a positive and supportive work environment, where everyone feels encouraged to bring their best to the table. Finally, we must celebrate the successes and accomplishments of my female team members. This helps to build their confidence and reinforces the idea that they are valuable members of the team who are making a significant contribution.

My most memorable career challenges and triumphs include… the founding of my eCommerce enabler, Innovative Hub, with zero external funding.

It was daunting at first, especially as a newcomer to the eCommerce industry. However, that challenge allowed us to explore interesting and bold strategies to start and grow my business. I began by leveraging on some old SME contacts from an old job in the business media industry, wrangling some initial clients to form the core foundation of the business.

From there, Innovative Hub became one of the first eCommerce enablers with Alibaba.com to start doing media events to further entice SMEs, and one of the first to begin working with government agencies to further assist SMEs with onboarding. All that led to one of my greatest successes with Innovative Hub, becoming the only Alibaba.com partner to operate in three different markets, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

(Related: Leading Ladies - Kori Millar)

I find it incredibly fulfilling to be a role model for other women. When I hear from women who have been inspired by my story or by the work we're doing at my company, I feel a great sense of pride, and it motivates me to keep pushing forward.

The most fulfilling aspect of my role as a woman is… having the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Whether that’s providing employment opportunities for my team members, helping my customers solve a problem, or contributing to the community, I find great fulfilment in knowing that my work is making a difference.

Another fulfilling aspect of my role is the ability to be creative and to constantly learn and grow. Starting and running a business requires a lot of problem-solving and innovative thinking, and I enjoy the challenge of finding new solutions and making things work.

Finally, I find it incredibly fulfilling to be a role model for other women. When I hear from women who have been inspired by my story or by the work we're doing at my company, I feel a great sense of pride, and it motivates me to keep pushing forward. Overall, the most fulfilling aspect of my role as a woman entrepreneur is the ability to make a positive impact in a variety of ways and to constantly challenge myself to be better and to do more.

For young women who are about to join the workforce, my advice is… to be confident, authentic, and unapologetic. Know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for what you want and need. In terms of becoming a great female leader, there are a few key things that women can do:

1.Build your network: Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Seek out mentors and role models who can guide you and provide advice.

2.Be a lifelong learner: Keep developing your skills and knowledge. Read books, attend conferences and workshops, and take courses to keep yourself up-to-date and relevant.

3.Lead with empathy: Empathy is a powerful tool for building relationships and understanding others. Take the time to listen and understand the perspectives of your team members and colleagues.

4.Be a champion for diversity and inclusion: Advocate for policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

5.Take calculated risks: Don't be afraid to take calculated risks, and step outside your comfort zone. This is where growth and opportunity lie.

6.Celebrate your accomplishments: It's important to take the time to celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small they may be. This will help to build your confidence and reinforce the idea that you are capable of great things.