Lena Wong, Founder HK Momtrepreneurs and co-founder of Womentors, shares with WiFA how she overcame bias in her career, promotes diversity and gender equality, supports female talent, her experience with mentors, and much more.

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization. 

I was professionally trained and worked in finance and for many years worked in asset management. I started Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs back in 2018 from a passion project of a Facebook page to share knowledge and resources with fellow mothers who wanted to start businesses and eventually registered this as a non-profit organization. In our 4th year now, we are providing programs to empower marginalized / grassroot mothers through entrepreneurship.  Due to the lack of day care facilities in HK, many women have to leave the workforce when they become mothers. HK Momtrepreneurs teaches them more about entrepreneurship so they can find their passion and talent, and continue learning and become role models for their children. In the past 2 years, HK Momtrepreneurs has been focused more on charity work so I have co-founded a business called Womentors helping companies to build better workplaces and retaining/recruiting female talents.  We want to bring women back to the workforce and help companies to reach these untapped talents. I guess once you start an entrepreneurial journey, it’s hard to stop.  

Please tell us how you or someone in your life that you admire provided hope or healing to the family or community.

You probably won’t believe that being a mother is a life changing moment for me, including how it built my confidence.  While most people say there’s a motherhood penalty, it’s indeed an accelerator for me.  Being a full-time mom when my children were young helped me build the confidence in them and in myself.  The norm in HK tends to be putting a lot of peer pressure among parents and average HK parents put a lot of stress on the children’s academic achievement.  I am blessed to not be affected by the mainstream but send my kids to public school.   There are so many lessons one can learn from being parents to how to run a start-up.   For those of you who are already mothers, we recently started a LinkedIn company page called Being Mothers and encourage mothers to add this real job in their LinkedIn profile.  Please check it out! 

Describe a challenging or difficult time during your career where you overcame bias. 

The idea of teaching mothers entrepreneurship was “new” to many in HK, especially now that we are encouraging the underprivileged to learn how to start a business. So the early stages of fundraising came from my own savings and support from family and friends.   Eventually we found more like- minded mothers to support us as members and donors.  Now we have been getting support from the community as COVID certainly helps to a certain extent to let many people recognize what it’s like to be “stuck at home”.    We are still working on registering ourselves as a charitable organization in HK since educating mothers on entrepreneurship is a new concept to HK authorities to accept as a charitable act.  

Please provide an example where you have promoted/supported female talent.

The establishment of Womentors is about supporting female talents.  We work with corporates to support and enable women to make transitions during their career while retaining and leveraging the rich and unique skills, expertise, and experience that they have acquired. Womentors serves as a one-stop platform and solution provider to empower female professionals as mentors making key contributions to capable functional teams.   

Recently a woman who just returned to a corporate job after 4 years of career break shared on LinkedIn about her experience.   While many including herself were concerned that the prolonged career break was a hurdle in her returning to the workforce, I was there to support her – from her early days of building her own children friendly facility directory start-up to later on helping her to regain her confidence as emcee in a Womentors event.   

While it is mind blowing to support a woman to return to the workforce, it is as aspiring to help a company build better workplaces to retain female talents and recruit untapped ones.  As we help women return to the workforce, we also stress on helping companies to better integrate them, ranging from training on combating unconscious bias to facilitating more inclusive work policy.     

How do you promote diversity and gender equality in your own life and workplace?

I am a strong believer there should be no boundary on how work should be done therefore anyone should be able to contribute and should also be given opportunities based on their merits. My work ranging from HK Momtrepreneurs empowering grassroot mothers, to Womentors supporting professional women to 100 Women in Finance encouraging young women to be the future talent pipeline for the financial industry all falls within the arena of diversity, equality, and inclusion.    So this is not only close to my heart but it is also now my bread and butter that motivates me every day.