Innovator Madge Meyer overcomes barriers for Asian women
By Ling-Mei Wong
When Madge Meyer talks, she expects you to listen.
Raised in Shanghai and then Hong Kong, Meyer’s parents taught her to respect others by paying attention to what they were saying, and that to connect with people is not to seek favors. Meyer is a petite and elegant woman who served as an executive at IBM, Merrill Lynch and State Street, where she was a minority.
“As a Chinese female, I started my career when it was very hard for women to attain corporate executive positions, and probably even harder for a Chinese female,” Meyer said. “So, I learned how to overcome many obstacles during my career. As I often point out, I have many tools in my toolkit that can provide others with the opportunity to learn from those experiences, and help them to accelerate their own paths to success.”
In her new book “The Innovator’s Path,” Meyer describes how to make innovation “business as usual.” Innovators are not necessarily inventors, but passionate people who are dissatisfied with the way things are, and find creative solutions that will bring business value.
“Throughout my own career, I never accepted the ‘status quo,’” Meyer said. “I always sought improvements and used the early adoption of new technologies or novel methods to exceed expectations.”
Meyer’s book is divided into eight disciplines, illustrated by interviews with 16 successful leaders and innovators in a variety of enterprises and institutions. From military commander Admiral Michael Mullen to celebrity chef Ming Tsai, their stories illustrate Meyer’s disciplines: Listen, lead, position, promote, connect, commit, execute and evolve.
Looking back at her career, Meyer’s proudest moment was putting State Street’s global technology infrastructure on the map, during her 10-year tenure of managing technology and becoming its first chief innovation officer. “I was able to bring innovation to the forefront of every employee,” she said.
Innovators also reach out to others. Too often, Meyer sees hardworking young Asians asking her why they got passed over for promotions, when they do not make networking a priority.
“Most Asians do work hard, but if you are an entrepreneur or someone working in a large corporation, emotional intelligence is extremely critical to everyone’s success,” Meyer said.
Meyer wants other Asian women to be self-confident and assertive. They should also identify good mentors and role models.
“If you can acquire different soft skills from each person, you’ll become far better,” Meyer said.
A book signing for “The Innovator’s Path” will take place 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the China Pearl, 9 Tyler Street.
This post is also available in: Chinese