Meet Diana Wu David, author of the much-loved children’s book – ABC Hong Kong. Our Hero Parent - Diana is a busy mom to three children (Emily, Alex and James) and the Regional Director for Financial Times in Hong Kong. She serves on the board of Nest (a start-up incubator) and the American Chamber of Commerce using her strategic and leadership skills to mentor entrepreneurs and start-ups. Diana spoke to us about how her book was "meant to be", finding moments of grace amid the stress of parenting and why she supports Baby Hero.
I was privileged to have my children in a private hospital with one of the top obstetricians in Hong Kong. Despite that, my son contracted meningitis in his spinal and brain fluid while at the hospital.
The midwives didn’t take me seriously when I said he seemed sick. Because it was my third child, I marched in to the nursery and insisted they take his temperature. At that point they realized he was very ill. He underwent a month of spinal taps and IVs in the neonatal ICU.
Baby Hero’s funding of neonatal kits allows mothers in underserved locations to be empowered and fight for the health of their newborn babies too. I am honored that I can support and bring attention to Samar and Alicia’s good work.
“Baby Hero’s support of neonatal kits allows mothers in underserved locations to be empowered and fight for the health of their newborn babies too”
In kindergarten I wrote that I wanted to be a go-go dancer, but I don’t think that that has had a big influence on my career to date.
My first taste of professional success was being able to pay the rent my first year out of college when I worked for Henry Kissinger. It was a rat-infested one-bedroom apartment that I shared with my best friend from college but we were so proud of ourselves for being able to make it on our own. No paycheck has seemed quite as significant since.
I started my career with Kissinger Associates, moving on to work in different management consulting before joining the Financial Times. Everyone has different motivations. I feel happy when I am learning so each new career move has put me back on a steep curve. I like knowing how an organization works, how the pieces fit together, what motivates people. Bringing international teams together to reach a common vision is exhilarating.
Now things are coming full circle in my board work. It is similar to consulting in its strategic focus, but also draws upon my experience in management to contribute to organizations at a leadership level.
"From the moment I decided to write the ABC Hong Kong book, opportunities presented themselves."
Sales from ABC Hong Kong Book benefit Room to Read to builds schools in Asia.
In 1999, I came to Asia as a Luce Scholar, a cross-cultural grant to connect people in America and Asia. By the end of those ten months, I was engaged to my husband, who was born in Guangdong. I have a keen sense of obligation to repay the opportunity I was given by to bridge these cultures.
When our children were born, there wasn’t much to inspire them to feel proud of being from Hong Kong. I wrote the book as a way to share a love of Hong Kong with them and with friends’ children overseas.
From the moment I decided to write the ABC Hong Kong book, opportunities presented themselves.
The illustrator, Margaret Jung, my former intern, came home for the summer and offered to illustrate it. We wanted to find a charity related to children and education to donate profits to and the next week were invited to a Room-to-Read even with Erin Ganju and they become our charity partner. An old business school friend, Brenda Lee, offered to print the book and was kind and patient with my naiveté of the process. Dania of Haven Books said we could donate more money by self-publishing and introduced us to Shonee and Aarti Mirchandri of Bookazine to distribute it. Steffan Leyshon-Jones designed the book and then offered to do all the marketing and photography at events for free.
We did slave away every weekend to produce it, market it, fund it and sell it but it was created from the kindness of many people, including you folks at Baby Hero.
Having children makes me think about my career in the context of my life rather than life as defined by a career. I now ask, “Will this make my children proud or inspired in their own lives?” “Will this make the world a better place for my children’s generation to live in?” I want to do things that have a 10X impact on society and have faith that these will add up to time well spent and a life well lived. And hopefully pay for three kids’ college educations!
"Find moments of grace amid the stress of preparing for a baby and ensuing family life and forgive yourself when you can’t seem to find it"
On some days it will feel as if life is unraveling faster than you can lower your standards. My advice is to find moments of grace amid the stress of preparing for a baby and ensuing family life and forgive yourself when you can’t seem to find it.
I still spend too much time doing checklists and spreadsheets of children’s activities and beat myself up for not being a better mom.
But when I remember to be in the moment with my children - going to the store for juice, playing a video game or snuggling in bed - these moments become sacred. I’ve never had a sacred moment filling in spreadsheets. Never!
I want my children to have – resilience, compassion and the courage to follow their dreams and fight for what they believe in. Respect for all people regardless of race, gender, social status or orientation. A knowledge that they can, and are expected to, make a difference in the world.
I am involved in mentoring women at The Women’s Foundation, am on the board of Nest, and the American Chamber of Commerce. Everyone can use a mentor or a sponsor. I feel grateful that I have had great bosses and mentors in my life and hope that I can return the favor, especially for women starting out who need encouragement to shine at their full wattage.
The American Chamber board has been a great opportunity for me to be around many senior executives and to learn leadership and good board practices from them. I also appreciate how committed they are to diversity of all types on the board. Women make up 11.5% of listed boards in Hong Kong and opportunities for board director development are crucial to increase this percentage.
Entrepreneurship and venture capital are likewise industries where women are thin on the ground. I am keen to get more women involved in angel investing, tech and entrepreneurship and to demystify it for younger people in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has huge promise as a smart city and a hub for innovation in the region.
We want to share the wondrous world of Hong Kong's heritage with you and your li'l loved ones. See Diana's beautifully illustrated book here and shop our South China inspired gift bundle here : South China Sea Hamper