Prominent Women Leaders in China Discuss ‘Label’ Ceiling in Their Career Pursuits

Image via BBDO

Recently, at the SHE Forum of the World Laureates Association, Ye Shuhua, a 95-year-old academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China’s first female observatory director, gave a speech in English to encourage women to break the “Glass Ceiling” and strive for gender equality.

BBDO and Omniwomen China have acknowledged that there is a new “ceiling” that women in the workplace are hitting these days – “Labels”.

A group of prominent women, Masson Ge, Found of SUPERMODELFIT, a female-only boutique fitness studio; Dida Peng, Secretary General of Yicai Foundation; Suki Zhao, Head of China Operations at BlueCurrent Group, SVP of FleishmanHillard China and Asia Pacific Lead of FH Sports; Nicole Ma, CCO of BBDO Shanghai, got together t share their experiences and collective belief in ‘NO LABELS’ as the most powerful tool to break this new ceiling facing women at work these days.


As the host of this event, Katy Guan, Head of Strategy at Energy BBDO Shanghai and advertising pioneer for the next generation, revealing the insights and personal experiences of ‘no labels’ from the esteemed panel of guests with the following 5 questions:

  1. How did you feel when touching the ceiling for the first time?
  2. Which label do you think was bravely broken for the first time?
  3. What is the most memorable breakthrough?
  4. As a boss, what have you done for female subordinates?
  5. Will women still have a ceiling in the future?

Guest tell their career story in the workplace

“With the development of the economy, the new ‘ceiling’ that women in the workplace are hitting these days is ‘Labels’”, said Tan Tze Kiat, BBDO Greater China CEO.

“It is actually happening around us: because you are a mother, I think that you cannot work overtime; Because you are not born post the 90s, I think that you don’t understand digital marketing; Because you are young, I think you are unreliable; Because your character is straightforward, I don’t think you can manage client services well. These labels and stereotypes limit everyone’s opportunities for career development. Only by removing the label and breaking the stereotype will the workplace be more diverse and everyone can therefore have the opportunity to chase their career.”


When talking about her experience of restricting labels during her career, Ge added: “As long as we are not restricted by labels,everything is possible.”

Nicole Ma, Masson Ge, Dida Peng, and Suki Zhao

Masson talked about her early modeling career. Unlike other models who belonged to a brokerage company with a plan for their career, Ge flew to Paris on her own and began her own journey of fighting labels.

“We have to rely on ourselves to fight to remove these labels and stereotypes. We know that it’s difficult and there is a long fight ahead, but we can’t give up once we meet difficulties, we have to persevere,” said Ge.

Although women have been working hard to improve themselves at work, they are still thought to have a disadvantage in some fields of work, creative work in advertising is one of them.

As China’s youngest female creative leader in the advertising industry, Nicole Ma believes that gender cannot be a hindrance to her career development.

“For so many years, I rarely thought of myself as a woman when I am at work, but often people reminded me. Once, I met a client who said that she didn’t like to work with a female creative, but I still bit the bullet to give her a presentation. Unexpectedly, after that I became friends with this client. Whether they are a man or a woman, professionalism is the most important thing in the workplace.”


In China, people always have prejudice and stereotypes for the word “Gongguan (Public Relations)”, especially for women who work in the industry. This became one of the reasons why Suki Zhao became head of  “Omniwomen”, the female leadership project at Omnicom in China.

She hopes to encourage more women around her to share the difficulties encountered in the workplace in an open and inclusive environment, and to be brave, face fears, break labels and prejudices.

“When I look back now, I realize that the challenge I met was this so-called ‘ceiling or labels’, but at the time, I only thought about how to do better,” said Dida Peng.

“In my own experience, I never thought that the challenge I experienced was that ‘I’m a woman’. The challenge is the challenge. When you lack an overall view, knowledge, and experience, don’t use ‘you are a woman’ as the excuse.”

BBDO hopes that through this event, women can be encouraged to release their unlimited talents and potential, to keep learning and self-optimizing, and eventually climb to the peak of their ideals.

The tremendous power that can be gathered by everyone can finally break this entire ceiling full of prejudiced labels and open up a fair career ladder for women.

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