Each month, IPWS invites an extraordinary community member to share their story, and this time we’ve asked Stefanie Vallee to tell us about her ten years of life in China!
Stefanie Vallee came to Shanghai in 2008 with her own boutique consultancy business in art, communications and coaching. She launched her international career in art at the same time as she was an entrepreneur within the field of professional coaching. It’s been nearly ten years since she first arrived, and today she is embarking on a new exciting journey: starting her second business in Mindfulness Leadership consulting, called Whole Leadership Corporation, which aims to build up the pipeline of Leadership in APAC with mindful leaders, from the stand point of food hygiene and leadership skills. Like she said in her ‘Food + Leadership’ TEDx talk in April 2017: “The company has three areas: leadership consulting, an e-marketing platform and e-learning. I am under rows of investors and partnership discussions right now, it’s a very exciting moment in my professional career in China, the land of all possibilities.”
Almost ten years ago, Stefanie came to Shanghai with no job and couldn’t speak Chinese or business English. She went from being a communications consultant at her own boutique office in Canada to achieving her “impossible” dream of having an art exhibition in China. She made her dream come true in two and a half years: “My art show was on for a month at M50, there was a line of 100 people outside the gallery at the opening, and after two weeks the show was sold out and I had to create more artworks which also found buyers”. She sold a piece of art for 1.9M RMB to Ma Huateng, Tencent CEO in 2013, and was named “Cultural Ambassador of the 2nd Youth Olympic Games” in Nanjing in 2014, where she also had her 10 years retrospective exhibition in Nanjing Contemporary Museum.
How did she achieve it all? One thing she shared is once you launch rockets of desires to achieve a dream, the only thing that can prevent it from happening is to quit. She had times when she wanted to quit, but didn’t because “when you have achieved a dream and feel like you’re on top of the mountain, there will always be the need to come down from the peak and start climbing another one.”
Regarding IPWS, Stefanie tells us: “I feel very proud of what IPWS has become: a vibrant community of 5000 people that focuses on giving back. We were about 200 people when I was a part of the organization, also being a pioneer in regards to women leadership in APAC and globally”. Stefanie joined IPWS in 2010 (then called EPWS), and she was the President of the IPWS Board of Directors in 2011-2013. When discussing the impressive changes over the years, she said: “IPWS has increased and maintained its procedures, standards, its membership needless to say, up to the corporate level, rather than non-profit, and yet, it remains run by professionals who are volunteers. I can see the power of the community behind IPWS leading towards literally a “society”.”
We can see the passion in Stefanie’s eyes when she’s talking about IPWS, and we know it’s built on the effort she put into it from the first logo, website, and the Women Leadership Awards (WLA). Back in 2014 and 2015, she sat down with the WLA nominees and had to convince them that they deserve the award, and that the word leadership was a label that stick to them based on what their team has submitted. They were all saying “But I just did my job!”. But in the last years of WLA, nominees are fighting with grace for their category award in a face-to-face interview with the jury, that is quite a change!
These days, Stefanie introduces more and more professionals to IPWS – people such as business visitors and even the Canadian Consul – as an ambassador of “one of the more important professional women’s networks in APAC”, and people can see the members at the IPWS events being proud of belonging to such a reputable organization. This is all based on hard work and long lasting efforts that, year after year, women in Shanghai and beyond have built. It is such a strong community based on sharing and developing women from the perspective of leadership. “And I think next year, with the 25th anniversary of IPWS, many more good things will happen. Because the culture of excellence is now embedded in our organization, inspiring each other to keep the bar high, still with the same soft heart and attention to details.” Stefanie told us about her belief with a confident smile.
For Stefanie, the best thing about connecting with professional women is “more personal, more authentic, more relevant to career changes. Women are more empathetic than men in their leadership style, therefore the kind of support women are providing to each other are centered on the word CARING”. She also shared one piece of advice from her experience with us: “Come to events with the intention to give, not to take. Only then will you receive more than what you came for”.
As an IPWS ambassador, she hopes the organization will maintain its high standards, and become a world leader in the realm of women leadership, with more interactions and a strong voice with political officials, contributing to research and publications from the data stand point.
If you want to be a part of the story, sign up today as an IPWS member.