Things Girls Do Exclusive
Bonnie Chiu is a dynamic entrepreneur who spearheads the award-winning social enterprise Lensational. She also wears the hat of director at the London-based Social Investment Consultancy. We had 101 questions for Bonnie (but sadly we can't publish them all) so we've taken our pick of the top five.
TGD: How did you become the director of a company at 23?
Bonnie: I was quite lucky to be in this company that valued me and didn’t feel like you have to be a certain age to do something, and I guess I showed enough. I joined two years ago as an analyst/junior consultant. It was a steep curve. I was promoted four months ago. I jumped from consultant to managing director and normally there would have been another step but company was going through a transition as the founder stepped down and we needed the leadership. It was better to promote me than hire externally.
TGD: We read in a previous interview that you said to find one’s purpose in life one needs to ask oneself, what makes one happy, sad and angry. What makes you happy, sad and angry?
Bonnie: I think for me it’s all related to women’s empowerment
What makes me really sad is when a girl or woman can’t pursue her ambition because she has to get married and have kids. Sadness and anger are really interrelated. Injustices make me angry. I don’t understand why someone can’t fulfil their potential just because of where they are born and their gender and things they can’t change. What makes me happy, I always show this picture, (in Myanmar) I took picture of a girl who was so happy when she saw herself for the first time in front a digital camera. She lives in a very rural area in a town called Bagan in Myanmar and that really made me happy...when people realise the world is a beautiful place and they have curiosity to find out more and change the world.
TGD: When did you decide that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Bonnie: I never thought I was entrepreneur material. It was never my career choice and I don’t think anyone should choose to be an entrepreneur. You’ll hear a lot of entrepreneurs saying that they don’t think someone should aim to be an entrepreneur, someone should be an entrepreneur if the time is right and if they have a problem that they really want to solve with their own solution. Being an entrepreneur is emotionally draining, and requires perseverance and discipline.
TGD: Any tips for girls and women who feel it’s their calling to be entrepreneurs?
Bonnie: Don't let anyone define what you do and what you are worth.
TGD: You’ve obviously started at a young age and you discovered people weren’t concerned about your age as you thought they might be. Were you inadvertently holding yourself back with your own perceptions about age and career paths and progression?
Bonnie: There are perceptions about what you should/could do at a certain age but then I don’t subscribe to the view that young people can’t change the world. I learnt so much from my grandmom and I think we should all learn from each other. The right time will come. I studied in a catholic school and I always remember the saying that there’s a time for everything. I do feel it was up to me, I didn’t necessarily want to start a business when I was young, but I felt it was the right time for me and I had to do something. I always knew I was holding myself back, not just on age but because of my own gender, because I’m Chinese and all those things, and overtime I leant to be more comfortable with differences and standing out and trying to use them as advantages. Being more practical about I can’t change my age, my skin, my gender, I could only use them to my own advantage and not beat myself up over them.
Read our full interview with Bonnie here.