Editor’s note: The following post was written by Sabina W., Industry Manager on the Ecommerce team in the Hong Kong Office at Meta. In her own words, she shares her path to Meta, what she’s learned about leadership, and how you can benefit from using what she’s learned about empowering her team to do their best work.
Early in my career, a manager told me that empathy would be my greatest tool. This advice has stuck with me for more than two decades of work in Sales and Business Development, as I’ve repeatedly witnessed how important it is to understand other people’s feelings. This advice has also shaped the approach I take while leading my team at Meta today.
My journey to Meta has been an exciting chapter in my life, which started when I moved to Hong Kong. I felt supported from the start as the company helped me relocate, giving me the time and space I needed to discover a new city and settle fully into my work. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the culture or local community in Hong Kong. From understanding Cantonese to trying delicious local dishes, there’s so much to learn and do. There are also endless opportunities to meet new people, try new experiences, and grow as a professional.
This was especially important to me, as I see my own growth as a marathon and always welcome a chance to embrace something new. Though I joined the Greater China Region Ecommerce team as a client partner, our team grew quickly and I was presented with the opportunity to step into a management position after my fourth year at Meta. Working closely with a mentor, I became familiar with coaching tactics and leadership principles. I also shadowed as a manager for six months before officially taking on the new role, supporting my team and representing our efforts.
Now, I ask myself a series of questions each day to continue evolving as a leader. Here are three that help me focus on what matters most while empowering us to do our best work.
1. Am I using all of the resources available to me and the team?
My team supports China’s ecommerce business by helping companies market themselves overseas and grow internationally, connecting people with the things they love and care about. We’re helping businesses broaden their reach and grow their customer base, which calls for close collaboration with many teams—such as Marketing, Engineering, and Creative Shop teams.
Sabina and her team celebrating the Chinese New Year at the Hong Kong office in 2019. The traditional day for lion dancing brings wishes for a lucky and prosperous year ahead.
One of the biggest differences between being an individual contributor and a manager is thinking about our team’s collective strengths, rather than focusing exclusively on my own. Everyone brings something valuable to our team, so understanding each person’s perspective, abilities, and skill sets sets a strong foundation for doing our best work together.
Through 1:1 coaching and team meetings, I’ve discovered that my passion as a manager is connecting with people. Not only do I enjoy spending time having conversations with my teammates, but talking with them helps me learn about each person’s individual interests and career goals. Using a StrengthFinder assessment has also helped me and my team further recognize each other’s strengths and how to use available resources. In my experience, this kind of deep understanding is unique to Meta.
2. Do people on my team feel respected, heard, and valued?
Being receptive to feedback has helped me establish a sense of trust with my team, and listening is one of the most important leadership skills I’ve developed. Hearing from the people I work with helps me see where I can balance opinions and understand how we can work better together.
While it’s easy to focus on those who are more open to sharing thoughts, some people solve problems more quietly and may not always share their struggles. Ensuring everyone feels supported to speak up is an important part of my role, and maintaining a supportive culture is something I keep a pulse on every day.
Everyone on our team has different educational backgrounds and work experiences. As their manager, it’s essential for me to respect a variety of working styles and appreciate the unique perspectives each person brings to our group. While this kind of respect is a key component of my management style, it’s also a core pillar of our broader culture. I love how we are building community and empowering a sense of belonging through transparency and care.
Sabina and her team came to a virtual meeting in theme, all wearing red shirts!
3. Am I making the best possible decision for our team—and standing firm in it?
When I think about leaders I admire, such as my manager and mentors I’ve had over the years, I remember how their strong leadership principles and unwavering commitment to the best possible outcome helped us succeed. Becoming more comfortable with standing firm in my decisions was challenging at first, but it’s something I think about daily as I guide our team to achieving all of our goals.
Most recently, my team was challenged to find new ways to connect with our clients amidst the pandemic. While we were accustomed to managing relationships through in-person meetings and deeper conversations, I saw that people across the team needed extra encouragement to be resilient during the tough times. I shared my feedback with our management team, which gave us the support we needed to get creative about collaborating with our clients virtually. We sent snacks and drinks to their offices for virtual happy hours and to celebrate happy moments together. Standing firm in my observation and asking for support—empowering us and our business to thrive—during the “new normal” is something I’m proud of.
Reflecting on my journey, I’ve learned firsthand how important it is to love what you do—especially when you’re helping people evolve on their career path. I’m grateful to have found a match for my interests and skills here in Hong Kong and among the supportive and talented team at Meta.