Paige Parker moved from New York to Singapore in 2007. A patron, board member, and fundraiser for numerous organisations, including United Women Singapore, Asian Civilization Museum, and Singapore Dance Theatre, Paige enthusiastically supports local fashion/design/jewellery/art. She is a graduate gemologist through the Gemological Institute of America, a former columnist for The Straits Times, and creator/host of “Pass the Power with Paige Parker” podcast, which shares Conversations of Hope with today’s thought-leaders.
At the turn of the millennium, Paige and her husband Jim Rogers spent three years driving around the world, each gaining a Guinness World Record. Paige’s best-selling memoir Don’t Call Me Mrs. Rogers details that epic circumnavigation, as well as her own personal evolution, while shining light on the courageous, resourceful women she met from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. Paige is a member of both the Circumnavigator’s Club and The Explorers Club.
What woman (real or fictional) inspires you?
When my husband Jim and I travelled the world, I gained such respect for the women I met on the road from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. They taught me about ambition, strength and resourcefulness, while displaying the courage it takes to navigate a world driven by men. The women I encountered, who would do anything for the sake, or even the survival, of their children. The women who showed me what it means not to be a quitter.
So, truly, I find inspiration from ordinary and extraordinary women. My own mother Sandra, who had a mad drive that led to a career as executive vice president of finance for an advertising agency, when women, particularly in the South (in the US), did not work; Singapore’s Ho Ching for her brilliance, strong STEM focus, and epic Facebook page; my helper Sarah, who supports her family and countless more in her hometown in the Philippines; my friend Tan Su Shan who is a rockstar at DBS, at home, and with her family and friends; to Katharine Graham, the legendary publisher of the Washington Post – she had the audacity to report on the Watergate scandal, ultimately leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Studies have shown that 80% of women do not feel comfortable discussing finances with family and friends. Is this true in your experience?
It’s interesting, I referenced my mother before; she was executive vice president of finance for an advertising agency in a time when women were most often staying at home or perhaps working as secretaries. She’s shared with me how she was the only woman in the boardroom, the only woman in top management, and sadly, we’re still there.
Money is one of the key areas where many women do experience imposter syndrome - especially when it comes to negotiating salaries, because we hesitate to ask for a fair raise, or as a consultant, we charge less than what people would be willing to pay.
I’m on the board of United Women Singapore, and we spend much of our time working on exposing and educating young women on STEM. Having knowledge of science, tech, engineering and math will empower these females to seek careers in these fields, and even if they don’t, they will feel comfortable talking on these subjects and steering their finances.
My friend Tan Su Shan is known for saying "don’t ask, don’t get". And we all should know that our work must be valued – if it’s not, we need to ask for more and even leave for a better opportunity. Simply put, many women are not comfortable discussing their finances because they lack education and exposure in this area. We must equip ourselves in order to have the confidence for these conversations.
What is the biggest risk you have taken?
- Quitting my job in New York at age 28 to head off around the world with Jim!
- Moving to Singapore 15 years ago for our daughters to be immersed in what we deemed to be the future – Asia and Mandarin.
- Right now, it seems investing in crypto!
Have you ever felt imposter syndrome? If so, how have you dealt with this?
Even Michelle Obama, another woman I admire, admits to imposter syndrome in her memoir, Becoming. If she, one of the world’s most confident women, admits to Imposter Syndrome, we’re all going to face it. That nagging sense of feeling inferior, like we don’t deserve to be in a position or like everyone at the meeting knows more than we do? It’s real.
I like to remind myself I would not be invited to a meeting, to a board, or to contribute my time or talent if I was not valued. There is always someone smarter, faster, stronger, “better”, but each of us brings a unique talent and perspective to the mix. It’s up to us to have the confidence to share that.
And I reminisce to myself that no one from my little hometown would have ever imagined me having the guts to travel the world battling sandstorms and blistering heat, outrunning armed insurgents, confronting corrupt officials, and learning to skilfully fight off malaria and enough red-tape to wrap an elephant, but that’s exactly what I did!
What achievement or experience are you most proud of?
My daughters – they are thoughtful, curious, smart, engaged and engaging. I once thought a child’s character came from nurture (me!), but today, after mothering two very different daughters, I understand nature is a major part of the equation: I was lucky with my girls! I’m proud I had the guts to drive around the world, to 116 countries, over three years, gaining a Guinness World Record. That circumnavigation made me the woman I was meant to be.
What is a cause that you are passionate about?
Many! STEM and gender equality through United Women Singapore. And the Asian Civilisations Museum, of which I’m a new board member. I’ll spearhead the fundraising gala slated for 26 May 2023 featuring Singapore’s Andrew Gn – that endeavour will need much passion. And of course, Singapore Ballet, a dance company of supremely talented young men and women, of which more and more are Singaporean.
What advice would you give to your 12-year-old self?
While I'd likely be too young at age 12 to get this, I’d still start these conversations, so the ideas would sink in over the years:
- Your work should be recognised. Stand up for yourself. Women fail to do this enough.
- Women do not need to reject motherhood or their nurturing side to be empowered: you only need to respect, enable, and celebrate the range of choices.
- We should do a better job of lifting up other women. Let’s head to the boardroom en masse!
- When a woman decides to be a stay-at-home mother, let’s celebrate her choice and the importance of her work.
- We must have the courage to walk the talk: call out sexism, challenge gender stereotypes, support companies that value gender equality, while giving our time and resources to organisations that promote the education of women and parity for all.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Saying yes to life! I’m a glass half full kind of gal, so I look forward to waking every day, living in the now, and savouring what life has in store. I have some incredible travel plans, I continue to work on my podcast, which has just wrapped season three, I ponder my next book, I create empowering content, I’m excited to work with the Asian Civilisations Museum on their gala, and I await the next big opportunity that’s right for me to embrace.
Paige enjoys creating empowering content on Instagram and TikTok (@iampaigeparker). Paige and Jim are the proud parents of two daughters, Bee and Hilton. Paige welcomes messages and comments, because she is inspired by you.