Founder of STEM-focused Wildtype Media on working in male-dominated fields: “Women have to support women”

·Contributor
·5-min read
Juliana Chan. (PHOTO: Wildtype Media)
Juliana Chan. (PHOTO: Wildtype Media)

Welcome to the Local Heroes series, where we highlight inspiring stories by people in Singapore who are using their skills to do good.

With everything organised online during the COVID-19 pandemic, a digital headshot along with a well-written resume matters more than ever for job seekers. In light of women empowering women and celebrating the upcoming International Women’s Day, STEM-focused media company, Wildtype Media, launched an initiative to provide complimentary professional headshots for women.

Yahoo Lifestyle SEA understands more about empowering fellow women from Juliana Chan, CEO of Wildtype Media, on her motivation behind the company and tips for ladies getting into the workforce.

“A good headshot is even more urgent in the COVID-19 pandemic as in-person networking events have essentially disappeared, and most communication is now conducted digitally.”

Chan started Wildtype Media in 2018 after leaving her tenure-track academic career as a Nanyang Assistant Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine to deliver social impact through science communication. The three-year-old company had recently launched an initiative in anticipation of International Women’s Day 2021, offering 50 women complimentary professional headshots at Wildtype Media Group’s in-house studio. The initiative is supported by Raena Lim, the co-founder of Style Theory, who offered to provide outfits for the ladies involved in the photoshoot.

“Our headshot is the first impression we give recruiters and industry colleagues when they review our LinkedIn profile or resume. Today, candidates can move through an entire hiring process without meeting their recruiters face-to-face.”

Minimising in-person contact and going online during the pandemic, resumes are now reviewed over LinkedIn profiles and job interviews held on Zoom. While recruiting for her company, the CEO realised that not many people have a good headshot picture. Organising a company-wide photoshoot for her employees, Chan thought to extend it to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“Not only do we hope for this initiative to inspire women to take that first step in self-love, but we also hope to develop a positive culture where women support and empower one another.”

Juliana Chan, Chief Executive Officer, Wildtype Media Group, Singapore; Young Global Leader, captured during the Session: A New Wave of Ocean Solutions with Nanyang Technological University at the World Economic Forum - Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People's Republic of China, July 1, 2019. (PHOTO: World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard)
Juliana Chan, Chief Executive Officer, Wildtype Media Group, Singapore; Young Global Leader, captured during the Session: A New Wave of Ocean Solutions with Nanyang Technological University at the World Economic Forum - Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People's Republic of China, July 1, 2019. (PHOTO: World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard)

As a mother of two and a female founder of a company in the traditionally male-dominated STEM industry, Chan knows very well about the challenges women face in their career, “from gender discrimination to pregnancy and raising young children.”

“One big hurdle a woman may face is finding her voice and identity in male-dominated fields. Gender biases are very real, and especially so in the working world. It can get even more challenging later in a woman’s career as she juggles raising a family and progressing up the career ladder,” Chan shared.

Partnering with YouGov, an international data and analytics company, Wildtype Media recently looked into how STEM careers are perceived by parents with children under 18 recently. “Of 1,064 respondents surveyed (representative of Singapore’s population), we found that 30% of respondents think that design and technology is more suitable for boys compared to 3% for girls. In contrast, 27% of respondents think that literature is more suitable for girls compared to 2% for boys.”

On top of managing their multinational companies and government client accounts, Chan also speaks about science communication in her capacity as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. With a wealth of experience working with different companies and various global leaders, we asked her to impart a tip for women coming into the workforce for the first time.

“You must choose your first few employers wisely. Finding a good mentor and receiving good advice early on is what will separate a mediocre career trajectory from a great one.”

(L to R) Juliana Chan, Chief Executive Officer, Wildtype Media Group, Singapore, Young Global Leader; Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer, Biogen, USA; Jo Ann Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, AARP, USA; and Francis S. Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, USA. (PHOTO: World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard)
(L to R) Juliana Chan, Chief Executive Officer, Wildtype Media Group, Singapore, Young Global Leader; Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer, Biogen, USA; Jo Ann Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, AARP, USA; and Francis S. Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, USA. (PHOTO: World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard)

Sharing that she had worked under great mentors early in her career, Chan let on that she had been challenged to rise above her limits and pushed beyond her comfort zone. Glad that she had not given up despite the challenges, her previous mentors are now her biggest referrals, referring her to new clients and engaging her company for consultancy work.

Now serving her community on a broader scale and contributing her time pro bono to social causes that she believes in, the CEO shares her philosophy with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA's readers, which is “women have to support other women.”

“It could be as simple as connecting with fellow like-minded professionals on LinkedIn, patronising woman-owned businesses, and referring them potential clients and partners. It is my philosophy to pay it forward, and I hope to do so with my company’s IWD initiative.”

Through publishing magazines such as Asian Scientist Magazine, an award-winning title with Wildtype Media, in addition to her consulting work and speaking engagements, Chan shines a spotlight on “stories about incredible science coming out of Asia and excellent scientists whose work deserves to be highlighted.”

“I consider myself very fortunate to have stumbled upon a unique career that bridges my passion and expertise in STEM and communications.”

While she cannot reveal much, Wildtype Media is currently planning an event held concurrently with the World Economic Forum’s Special Annual Meeting in August 2021. For more information on the company’s work, Chan recommends following her Clubhouse platform @asianscientist.

Learn more about International Women's Day:

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