Sue Kyung Lee is a trailblazer. The 52-year-old rose through the ranks to become country CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) Korea while raising her son Ryan, now aged 25.Now based in P&G Singapore as Vice President – Global Safeguard and Asia Pacific Skin & Personal Care, Sue Kyung shares her admirable journey of how she juggled work and parenting to achieve her career dreams, and how she’s inspiring the next generation of women, too.

  1. Be true to yourself, not what society expects of you

“As a young Korean woman in my 20s, many people expected me to stay home and tend to my in-laws and husband. Yet, though I was a wife, I still dreamed of forging a successful career. I returned to the work force after graduating from my MBA course, a year after Ryan was born, and pushed myself beyond my comfort zone in P&G, where I have been for the past two decades.”

2. Find a work environment and community that supports mothers


“When I returned to work after having Ryan, I spent almost my entire month’s salary hiring a nanny to look after him. I had to rush home every evening to relieve my nanny’s duties; I could not clock in the extra hours I wanted to because I had a young son at home.

“I’m now P&G APAC’s Diversity & Inclusion program sponsor, and we have a robust internal women empowerment program to help keep women in the workforce. Mentors like myself are active members of our Lean In Circles, where we groom our female employees to grow in their careers together.”

3. Make your children part of your work life


“A busy work life should not take you away from being there for your child. From a young age, I’ve brought Ryan to commercial shoots with me, and invited him for lunch with me every day when he was in middle school.

“I’m not going to deny it – it’s tough finding work-life balance. For me, it’s about having both an understanding family and workplace. I refused to be tied down by any restrictions of being a woman or mother. I want to send a strong signal to women and fellow mums that ‘if someone like Sue Kyung can be CEO of P&G Korea, I can be, too!’”

Photo: Courtesy of Sue Kyung Lee. This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of The Weekly.