Hey! My name is Vivian. I’m the founder and CEO of Rise. We are a next-gen career acceleration platform for women. Prior to starting Rise, I had a career in beauty marketing, then B2B SaaS before launching my own consultancy advising Fortune 500 companies, high-growth startups, as well as leading VCs, PE firms, and global institutions. I have worked with companies such as L’Oreal, Ralph Lauren, Greenhouse Software, Glamsquad, Klarna, Bain Capital, the AARP, and more.
Introduce Rise—what is your mission, and what do you do?
Rise is a next-gen career acceleration platform for women. Our mission is to empower more women to rise up and go further, faster, on her own terms.
What brought you to this point—what did you do before starting Rise? How did you begin this company?
I actually stumbled upon this path completely by accident. So much of what I am doing today has been about connecting the dots and making sense of a not-so-straightforward path. My first job out of college was in brand management at L’Oréal. I was really good at my job and was tapped for some of the biggest and most visible projects at the company. Around that same time, a lot of my peers were moving to Silicon Valley, working for exciting tech companies with grand big ideas to change the world. Like a typical millennial, I had FOMO. So I left the world of luxury perfumes and shampoos and into the world of B2B software and HR technology. The transition definitely had a lot of people scratching their heads. But it was not until I started Rise that it all clicked. Thanks to L’Oréal, I knew how to build products and experiences for female millennial audiences, and my experience at Greenhouse gave me a front-row seat into recruiting and talent. Rise is the perfect culmination of both of those worlds.
How have you all adapted to life during the COVID-19 pandemic? How is life at home? How has running your company changed during this time?
COVID-19 has definitely brought us its fair share of ups and downs. Prior to the shutdowns, we had a vibrant lineup of in-person events and programming that unfortunately had to shutter because of the pandemic. During this time, we also saw unprecedented levels of unemployment and underemployment for women. We have erased much of the progress of female advancement we’ve gained in recent decades, and it wasn’t that great to start with. The share of women in the workforce is down to levels not seen since 1988, or the year that I was born.
COVID has also challenged me as a leader. During tough times, transparency is more important than ever. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on communicating more authentically, candidly, and from the heart to normalize emotions at work. On the plus side, we have seen a huge surge in traffic and new users as more women embrace working with a company like Rise to accelerate their careers. We are at a critical juncture in history; what we do in the next few years will set the tone for gender equality for decades to come. I am more energized than ever to take the challenge head-on.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment? Personally and work-wise?
I still feel like my biggest accomplishment was something I did when I was 15—did I peak early? I started a nonprofit organization to support disadvantaged women and children—I even cold snail-mailed then-President Bill Clinton. To my surprise, he actually responded and taught me an important lesson to never be afraid to put yourself out there.
Personally, my biggest accomplishment has been leaving the comforts of a well-paying job to give myself the chance to do something I can be proud of.
Who inspires you? Do you have any role models in your lives?
I am the biggest fan of Mathilde Collin, the Cofounder and CEO of Front. I actually didn’t know of her until recently and could not believe that I did not know of such an incredible founder. Mathilde is all about heads-down hard work, and focus. You won’t find her splashed across magazines with an army of publicists lauding her accomplishments because she doesn’t need to. Her focus is on metrics that drive growth, not vanity. If you want to know what kind of founder she is, follow her writing on Medium and check out her fundraising deck. She is legendary. Whenever I have a difficult challenge, I often ask myself, “What could Mathilde do?”
The most important city question: what is your go-to coffee shop order?
Plain drip coffee! Can’t help it; it’s the cheap Asian in me! I find it to be much more economical to make coffee at home than to spend $6+ on a cup out. I love my Nespresso and honestly think it tastes better than most coffee shops.
How does your cultural identity and heritage influence you and your business?
I think of myself as truly bicultural. I speak Chinese fluently and love the beauty of my culture and heritage. Growing up in an immigrant family has taught me the importance of financial prudence. I find it abhorrent when so many tech companies pilfer investor’s money irresponsibly.
What do you think are the biggest issues Asian American women face today?
I think Asian American Women are still typecast in American society. Oftentimes, we are seen as meek, shy, and obliging. I find it funny when people tell me I’m a loud and opinionated Asian when I grew up in a family filled with loud and opinionated Asians! This stereotype is reinforced when we don’t put ourselves out there to do things that are unconventional or unproven.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!
We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.