An Interview with Aliza Knox, Expat, Author & Female Advocate in Business.
Her Expat Life had the honour and privilege of interviewing Aliza Knox, Woman of the Year IT 2020 (Asia), Top 100 Tech Women, TechExec (Google, Twitter), Singapore and recently, the author of 'don't quit your day job', Amazon #1 bestseller.
Here, Aliza shares what life is like as a successful expat businesswoman.
1: Congratulations on your new book, 'don't quit your day job' - what was the motivation behind writing the book and the key takeaways from the book?
The motivation for the book is about giving back. A lot of people seek me out to chat about their careers. If I learned nothing else from years in tech, it’s that whatever you do has to be scalable. Talking to individuals over coffee 1-1 is NOT scalable. There are only 24 hours per day, except for the days I fly from Sydney or Singapore to the US (and then those hours get robbed again, later). And, I don’t even like coffee. So, I thought if I wrote down some of the salient points that come up time and time again, I might be able to help a few more people. Also, author profits from the book are going to Vital Voices, an NGO that works to put women in leadership, so that's another way of using the book to give back.
The book outlines the attitudes and actions used by those who successfully navigate today's work challenges, with advice that helps readers to apply these strategies in their own lives. Specifically, it outlines 6 key mind shifts. 2: You previously worked at Cloud flare, Twitter and Google in APAC. What was your most impactful work while you were there? I’m a “growth” person. What I like best about work is helping both businesses and people grow and I’ve become known for both. So really, my most impactful work has been driving revenue, building client bases, and most fulfilling, helping people rise and thrive in their careers. 3: Growing up an American and moving to Singapore, what were the biggest challenges you faced as an expat, and how did you overcome them? My first experience living overseas was in Bath, England as a junior in college. Then I moved to Sydney, Australia in my 20's. I first relocated to Singapore in the mid 1990's, then again in 2008 , and I've been here ever since. Being a foreigner in each place has been different.
In England, the toughest thing to adjust to was the weather - I prefer my days warm and sunny. In Australia, it was breaking into social circles. Unlike big cities in the US and Singapore, where many people have moved from elsewhere and are consequently open to making new friends, when I moved to Australia, most people my age were living in the city in which they'd grown up, possibly even in the same neighbourhood, and had all the friends they needed. So creating a social life was challenging initially. In Singapore, the biggest challenge was befriending Singaporeans outside of work. I really wanted to immerse myself and my family in the local environment. But given the fact that Singaporeans can't go to international schools and expat kids used to have quite a hard time going to local schools, and that Singaporeans have many family obligations, that took quite a bit of time.
4: What inspired you to live the expat life? I always wanted to experience life outside the United States. I moved several times within the US as a kid and thought it would be even more interesting to live in other countries. My husband and I wanted our kids (and ourselves) to be "globosapiens" with a broad outlook. One key to that was becoming fluent in another language. Another was to never think one country was the centre of the earth, partly by having lived in several.
5: Your successes and your work for gender diversity are incredible! What is your advice for other expat women who want to advance their careers in the corporate world? Thank you. That's a huge question . The short answer is #GoForIt. I think there is a lot of opportunity. The very long answer might be to read my book. Somewhere in between, you might want to take on that moving overseas may slow you down in the short terms, especially if you take a lateral change to go overseas. Over the long term, going overseas will likely boost your career. Executive search leaders say that the more senior you become, the more likely you will need a tack record of managing across borders and cultures.
6: As an expat living in Singapore, what are your top tips for other women looking to relocate?
One thing that's been great for me in Singapore is the availability and affordability of childcare and housekeeping. This has been particularly helpful in enabling both my husband and me to have full time roles and raise children with less stress than we might have in other countries.
7: What advice do you have for expat women in building new relationships and a support system abroad and in the workplace? Even though there are probably too many demands on your time, carve out enough space for hobbies/interests/sports which can both energise you and enable you to meet people. These could include tennis, church, chess, or dragon boating. Use your interests to build a support group outside of your professional life. To meet other working women, you'll need to seek out at least one professional group - there are lots of industry groups, like women in finance, or women in tech - pick one that's most relevant to you.
8: What has been the most fulfilling role you undertook throughout your career?
The most fulfilling things I've done are around helping others broaden or accelerate their careers. Recently, I've had the opportunity to assist a young Afghan woman I've mentored for a few years get out of Kabul and into the US. I've been assisting her in her journey of getting into a Ivy League school and then into grad school.
9: What do you do in your spare time? I play badminton, swim, read, and I'm learning 'MahJong' . And, I'm a travel addict - much happier now that Covid-19 seems to be receding!
10.You’ve successfully reinvented yourself a few times before, going from financial services and consulting to tech. How are you thinking about the next stage of your career , "Aliza 3.0"? Having been in tech, I can separate the phases of my career into software releases. Aliza 1.0 focused on financial services and consulting. Aliza 2.0 was all about tech. Aliza 3.0 includes being a non-executive board director, writing a book, volunteering, and having more time for my family. 11. How can our readers connect with you and find your book?
Thanks for asking. alizaknox.com has most of the details. for speaking engagements , I can be reached at email@example.com the book is on Amazon in the US, Singapore, Australia, UK, Canada, including on Kindle and Audible. Her Expat life Limited is a bespoke boutique consultancy that provides services to expat women entrepreneurs, creatives, professionals, and investors who desire to advance their global lifestyle, network, and portfolio.