Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindset and their daily habits.
Meet Sher-li Torrey
Sher-li Torrey is the Founder and Director at Mums@Work, a social enterprise dedicated to supporting women find work-family balance. Their aim is to make known the flexible work solutions available for mothers and also to provide guidance on career skills needed for such roles.
They hope to be able to provide mums with the support, assistance and advice when choosing flexi-time options. As mothers themselves, they recognize the desire of many mothers to marry their professional experience with their shift in priorities upon the inclusion of new family members.
Here are some media platforms where Mums@Work was featured in.
Radio Stations: Kiss92 (a few times), 93.8FM Radio, 89.3FM radio, 96.3FM Radio & BFM (89.9)
TV Stations: Channel News Asia, Channel 5, Channel 8, BBC, Reuters
Newspaper: Straits Times, Business Times, LianheZaobao, The New Paper, Today (Including the online versions), The New Paper, Sunday Times, BBC, AsiaOne
Magazines: Young Parents, Today’s Parents, Her World, Nuyou, Singapore Women’s Weekly, Harpers Bazaar Junior, Parent’s World, Expat Living, CLEO, Mother & Baby
Online portals: HoneyKids, AsiaOne, Smart Parents, Singapore Motherhood, Asian Parents, Human Resources Online, Today Online, Little Day Out, NTUC Labourbeat, , One & Co, Parents World, Mummyfique, myreadingroom.online, HQ Asia, Material World Singapore, HRinAsia.com, Wantedly.com, Tatler (Online version), sgsme.sg, TickiKids, Dollarsandsense.sg, Vulcan Post, WomenTalk TV
Tell us a little about yourself.
I run Mums@Work (Singapore) and its subsidiary Career Navigators. Our focus is to support mothers who want work-family balance. We have 3 sub-groups that we serve: Flexi-work mums, Mumpreneurs & Back-to-Work mums.
What got you started on your business?
I became a mother and felt the challenge of trying to continue my career and take on full-time parenting roles as being a challenge in 2010. I decided that if I wanted to change things in Singapore, I would have to start my business. So I started the Flexi-work portal first, listing flexi-work arrangements only. Thereafter, I added on the Mumpreneur-Support portion by running monthly training workshops and events to get Mumpreneurs started and growing. In 2016, via our subsidiary, we added the 3rd group we support – mothers returning to work after a career gap.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full time basis?
I headed up the Post-graduate team of the Office of Career Services at Singapore Management University. My team did career training and job placement for Master degree students in the university.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
I struggled to get Mums@Work recognised by big corporate firms in the earlier days. Many employers did not really understand Flexi-work back in 2010, so I decided that one of our mission statements was to push for more awareness of it. In 2013, the concept of a MUMpreneur was very new – so we ran a Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Award to get more awareness for it.
Then in 2016, I decided to drive more awareness for back-to-work female talents. Again, there are many obstacles in the working world for all 3 groups, but i like challenges. To me, if we REALLY want to improve the lives of mothers, we cannot just talk about it or inspire women. My goal has always been – CREATE THE REAL OPPORTUNITIES for the women – give them all the tools and the real jobs and options that will allow them to find the perfect balance between work and family. #dontjustinspire #makeithappen are my personal goals.
What keeps you going in your industry despite the challenges faced?
We are championing for change – and I know that it will take time, so often every project we work on – our main goal is: what improvement to female’s lives do we want to make with this project. If it does nothing to GENUINELY help, then we don’t do it. We have had competitors, but usually their focus is on money making. If you want to make an impact on society, some things are not money-making. If you want to make change happen, you must roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Rather than pretty Instagram posts, our team focuses on knocking on the doors of employers – telling them the benefits of hiring back to work mums. Over the years, I have attracted very very capable colleagues that walk the talk with me. They sustain my focus on our end goal – make Singapore a better work place for ALL mothers.
Who inspires you?
My late mother. Cliche as it sounds – she was a very strong character. Even while fighting cancer, they gave her 6 months to live, she went on to fight it for more than 2 years. Her belief was simple”Every problem has a solution. You just have to find it!” — it’s what drives me a lot – MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Less talk, more action.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business / starting to pursue their dream?
Do not be afraid to learn. The real entrepreneur is always learning. In the last 10 years, I have trained more than 800 over mumpreneurs in our courses – it is always those that have a strong desire to CONSTANTLY learn, who will do well in business. And never be arrogant – because you never know when someone else can be better than you in business. So keep learning.
If there is one thing you hope ladies can change the perception of themselves, what would it be?
Too often we see our member-mums have no confidence about their abilities. Truth is, until you believe in yourself, the external world will only reflect your personal sense of confidence. There will always be barriers in society against women – our job is to keep pushing those boundaries and creating change.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
I think for me – it’s about providing all the tools and solutions. Our platform does that – i do not believe in just teaching. I believe in creating all the opportunities for every mum that comes our way – so there’s no excuse – you can do it
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
Someone said this to me recently: Of all the balls of life that you juggle, remember that the family one is the one you cannot drop. I would say family and your personal health. Because in the end, that’s all that truly matters.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I am truly grateful to many things – for being alive and for having the opportunities to meet with people that share my vision.
What do you do in your free time as self care? How do you unwind?
I love hiking and trekking up mountains with my family. It’s very very relaxing to me.
Let us know more about what you do!
Mums@Work was set up to help mothers marry their professional experience with the shift in priorities upon the inclusion of new family members. Our main mission is to be a point of information source for mothers who want to work flexi-time or run their own Mumpreneur business so as to have sufficient time for family as well. To date, Mums@Work (Singapore) has approximately 43,000 females at the end of 2019 and has successfully listed more than 4300 flexi-work arrangement jobs (for professionals and executives), since it started in 2010. We hold numerous events every month, with our annual career fair and ‘Start a Mumpreneur Business Workshop’ being the most popular. We now have Career Navigators (Our subsidy) that focuses on helping mothers return to work.
Connect with Mums@Work!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.