As a business leader, and a devoted mother and daughter, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are very important to CSOFT CEO and Founder Ms. Shunee Yee, as well as to the CSOFT Family. Last year, we sat down with Shunee to ask her a few questions based on her background and interest in both empowering women as well as improving global health through cross-border communications. Notably, her leadership extends beyond CSOFT. In addition to sitting on Dexter Southfield School’s Academic Board, working closely with the Johns Hopkins Center US-China Studies Nanjing Center for its cross-cultural program, Ms. Yee is now active co-chair for this year’s A Taste of Ginger, a Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center event for promoting awareness and education in support of the Asian American Diabetes Initiative. With 2020 causing global challenges across industries, we are delighted to have Shunee back for a follow up interview for International Women’s Day, reflecting on this last year, as well as looking forward to what 2021 has in store.
Jane: Shunee, thank you for joining us again this year to celebrate International Women’s Day! Last year, you shared with us a healthy tip for 2020. Obviously, a lot has changed since then to now; if you could share a new tip or advice for how you maintained your positivity during such a challenging year, what would it be?
Shunee: Yes, it has definitely been a year of challenges, both personally and professionally. Maintaining my health mentally and physically is extremely important to me, especially during these times. I have always been a flower enthusiast and staying active through my Pilates workouts have been sources of positivity. I think these two things have allowed me to see the beauty in life and remind me that finding balance and inner peace in your life is important. I work in a windowless home office and it has been a monumental year for remote working, so I like to fill my office with fresh flower arrangements- they help me to stay focused and keep busy. In my office I also have a little bulletin board where I have written ‘peace, love, hard work’ on it. Some find it a bit silly, including my teenage boy who laughs at it, but in stressful times I find that having a little inner peace and focus in your life is so important to staying positive.
Jane: Yes, agreed and thank you for sharing some pictures of your flowers – they’re beautiful! So true, it’s important to find the beauty in life, particularly during these times. Moving onto the next question, COVID-19 has caused monumental shifts globally for all industries. For CSOFT, what’s been some of the biggest challenges to overcome?
Shunee: Oh challenges… too many! I think the challenges I have experienced are twofold: one is purely personal and the other is business related. Personally, I felt like suddenly, with the whole world going into lockdown, we all lost a sense of consciousness, and questioned everything in the news and in life, even challenging one’s own common sense. Business-wise, everything was suddenly upside down, especially since CSOFT operates in two of the largest economies that are completely opposite and different from one another. Unexpectedly, it felt like nothing was working. This pandemic has lasted over a year for CSOFT; first affecting our offices in China then shifting to operations in the US as well. However, even though it took a while, I have seen CSOFT overcome the anxiety and recognize the uncertainty with a new sense of understanding that this is completely unprecedented, and then transition into a new phase of hope and belief in the company and for ourselves. In doing so, CSOFTers are taking on new possibilities and opening new doors!
Jane: I agree, there were so many times this year I found myself not knowing what lay ahead and questioning how to best combat the uncertainty. Reflecting a bit more on this past year, and knowing what we know now about the pandemic, what is the most important thing you want CSOFTers to remember?
Shunee: What I want myself, my family and CSOFTers to remember, without sounding too cheesy, is that we should never underestimate ourselves. This past year, CSOFTers have gone above and beyond to challenge their limits and believe in new possibilities. We have all adapted to a new way of working and I have even found more time to work closer with our international sales teams as well. Coming from Beijing to San Francisco, I was used to living a much more sedentary lifestyle; now, walking across the brick and cobblestone streets of Boston where I currently live, I’m more active, and a lot stronger and healthier for it. I think there is always value in pushing yourself and going outside of what you know and are comfortable with, particularly in a year as challenging as 2020 was.
Jane: Great advice, thank you for sharing! Now for the final question, what are you looking forward to most in 2021 and beyond for CSOFT?
Shunee: Three words: growth, growth, and growth! Not just for business and the market, but also for our CSOFT people, in our hearts as well. For me, ‘heart’ is the capacity and ability to accept a lot of things; through this pandemic (business, community, across borders, humanities, political landscape) all of these come back to your heart. From a business angle, of course numbers and being successful are important, but in reality, growth is not just a number, it’s so much more. Heart means having empathy and understanding, and the ability to accept failure as well as understand the differences between each other and accept them. The heart is to challenge our capacities; it’s always easier to find issues, but the ability to compromise for the greater good is far more difficult and more impressive. With the vaccine rollout and low case count (currently) we find ourselves in more hopeful times and CSOFT is once again on the up, which is very encouraging.
Jane: Wonderful, thank you for taking the time to share some of your insights with us as we celebrate International Women’s Day! As we move forward into a new year, the endless possibilities are exciting. I think we, as a global community, can now safely say that whatever challenges we may face this year and beyond, 2020 has showed us that through adaptability, perseverance, and determination, we can handle anything!