Serai Spotlight (IWD edition) with Katrina Yee of Serai

March 14, 2022

Katrina Yee is a Senior Product Manager at Serai. Tenacious, empathetic and supportive, she portrays the many qualities of a powerful woman today. In between duties as a leader, a mentor and a mother, Katrina steers both our Supply Chain Visibility and Traceability Solutions, helping businesses achieve their sustainability goals through technology. 

We chat to Katrina about her personal story of overcoming gender bias, the female entrepreneur she admires the most and why sustainability is important to her.

Why is sustainability important to you?

Sustainability is important to me because it's the key to a better future. We rely heavily on natural resources, which are getting more and more exhausted every single day. Many of our key natural resources in water, energy and land are predicted to be depleted in the next 30 to 50 years, which will create a global food shortage. Plus, climate change has a huge impact on our current living situation.

The frequency of natural disasters is about three times as much now as it was 40 to 50 years ago. So this really impacts me personally because I'm really worried for my kids. I want the best possible future for them.

You're spearheading the Sustainability module for Serai’s Supply Chain Solutions. Could you tell us more about how this module helps companies achieve their ESG goals? 

Our team is working on different methods to help companies achieve their ESG goals in collaboration with their supply chain. One of our main approaches is focused on compiling diversified ESG data at the regional entity and product level from the value chain, as well as from third party partnerships.

This includes collecting environmental data, particularly around climate change and carbon emissions as well as social and labor data. We're also building meaningful analytics based on this variety of information so that we can provide companies with actionable insights. It's our mission to give companies visibility into their current ESG conditions that affect their supply chain so that they have the ability to measure, monitor and improve their value chain as well as their overall ESG performance.

This year's theme for International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias. Have you faced any bias in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them? 

Yes, definitely. In the past, I have been overlooked for a promotion in favour of a male colleague who, in my honest opinion, was doing less than myself, performing not as well as I had been performing.

I'm sure I was being paid significantly less than my male colleagues as well. One of the more recent acts of bias that I encountered was really after I became a mom. Due to financial reasons, one of my companies had laid myself and half of the company off, and I decided to take that time off because finding a nanny at the beginning of the pandemic was very difficult.

When I decided to start looking for a job again, which was about seven months later, I was faced with all sorts of questions. For example, am I sure I want to come back to work when I have a baby? How will I prioritise work? How can I manage both? Would I be willing to accept a lower salary than I was making before until I could prove that I can manage both?

These were insane questions because my husband did not get asked these questions being a father. As women, we do face bias quite often, even if it's unintended. I think the way to overcome this is that you have to clearly state that you're capable. Unfortunately, you have to constantly prove yourself. That's what I try to do every single day, just as a woman and as a mom. 

Which woman or female entrepreneur do you admire the most and why? 

I'm a big fan of Akiko Naka. She is the Founder and CEO of Wantedly, which is Japan's version of LinkedIn. I find her story very relatable, especially because she's an Asian entrepreneur. She followed a very traditional path. She went to a good school, landed a stable job, and then she decided to quit and take a big risk, making a completely different career change.

She wasn't that successful at first. Then she took another big risk and started her own business, which is similar to my own career path. Of course, the major difference is that she's extremely successful in that, and she took her company public, helping thousands of job seekers find jobs. So I greatly admire her, and I find her story to be very inspirational.

I always try to keep in mind that you should go with your gut and challenge yourself to take risks. 

What message would you like to send out to young women? 

Always keep learning, not just for young women, but all women really.

I feel strongly that the best way to protect yourself from anything, including bias, is to arm yourself with information. The more you learn, the more you can fight for what you want. And as women, we do face a lot of challenges so it's best we can be ready for them. That really goes at any age. 

What do you hope to see change or progress for women in the next five years?

I would love to see more women in leadership roles. I believe that many women today are qualified for those positions, and I hope more companies recognise them for their talent and their efforts. I feel very inspired by any company that is headed by a woman, or a company that has senior management that consists of at least 50% of women such as Serai. This was really inspiring when I first came here.


About the series

To celebrate International Women's Day 2022, we sat down with seven female trailblazers in the fashion and sustainability industry to talk about their struggles and challenges, career learnings and advice to young women.