Women have to set out to break the glass ceiling, says Rose Tsou of Verizon Media at MAKERSIndia launch

Rose Tsou, who is credited with the success of Yahoo in Asia, shares her journey, reflects on the challenges for women in making it, and what it means to create an inclusive workplace.

Verizon Media’s women-focused platform ‘MAKERS’ was launched on Friday evening, holding out the promise to accelerate the women’s movement in India, replicating its success in the US over the past six years.

Before unveiling the MAKERSIndia logo and a video featuring women-makers from India, Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, and Rose Tsou, Head of International Markets, Verizon Media, recounted the start of MAKERSIndia one year ago. Shradha remarked that Rose is a woman ‘who sets eyes on something and makes it happen’. 

In a freewheeling conversation, the two delved into why a platform such as MAKERS was necessary to shed the spotlight on women who make it. 

Rose shared some of her own experience as a woman in climbing the professional ladder, in a milieu where the state of women in leading positions is still found wanting when compared to that of men.  She said that, ultimately, women have to set out to break the glass ceiling.

“As a woman, we have a lot of self-doubts, and those can constrain us. I remember, early on in my career, when I was a general manager at Yahoo Taiwan, I had been successful for many years but didn’t get a promotion. One day, our founder called me in to assess another colleague for a bigger role. At that moment, I really drew on my courage and asked if he had considered me for the job,” she added.

After what seemed like the longest waiting-period of her life, she secured that position in two weeks.

She pointed out that women need to fight for the things they work so hard for because they deserved them.

Rewinding Verizon Media’s journey, Rose recounted that the company recorded major milestones when it acquired the two major media brands - AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017. After this, others have come under the umbrella, including TechCrunch, HuffPost, and MAKERS, apart from other advertising technologies. 

Personally, Rose has mentored many entrepreneurs. At the launch event, she advised that it was always best to follow the heart and passion in making important decisions. Rose recounted her own experience of leaving a big marketing firm and joining a record company. “It was a great company, but it was not for me. And, after joining the record company, I was able to flourish with my creativity and unleash my entire powers,” she noted.

Rose is credited with Yahoo’s success in Asia, and when asked what it means to translate diversity at the workplace, she laid down her simple belief that when people feel safe and trusted, they would realise their largest possible potentials. 

“Especially, as women, we have a lot of personal responsibilities: as a daughter, a mother, and a professional. I have seen many women whose careers did not advance because of these personal commitments.” Stating that she’d faced her share of challenges in marriage, aging parents, and a child, Rose asserted that she fully understood their impact.

“Building an inclusive and safe environment and supporting women employees when they really need will help in having them bring their whole self to work,” she noted.

The conversation was later joined by Rico Chan, co-head, Verizon Media, Asia-Pacific region, and Nikhil Rungta, who has recently joined as the country manager in India. 

Speaking from his experience, Rico explained that an inclusive environment with diverse voices ensured  much truer decisions. In this regard, the MAKERSIndia platform addressed a now–or-never situation, he said.

“When you look at the internet population in India, women internet users account for 42 percent of the total, which is an all-time high. And I believe this number is going to increase further,” he added, before pledging to bring pay parity in his organisation. Nikhil, too, pledged to create a work environment where all women could do their best. 

One learning from this fireside chat would be that all that’s coming to India is good, including the MAKERSIndia platform. 

(Edited by Athirupa)


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