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Women in Wealth: Asia Spotlight - Sharon Tong

Posted on 16 May 2024

Former Channel NewsAsia TV journalist and news presenter Sharon Tong is now the powerhouse behind an almost decade-old media consultancy The Media Consultants Pte Ltd. After 20 years in the newsroom, she has taken her skills and her journalism experience to companies and government organisations, with a singular pitch for good communication.

Together with her team of fellow media practitioners, Sharon has dreams of The Media Consultants one day being a name synonymous with having the best and most passionate media and communication coaches in the business.

From shaping narratives in the boardroom to shaping the next generation of communicators in the classroom, Sharon believes good communication is the next great leveller. She volunteers her expertise at schools, dreaming up fun-filled lessons to get children and teens thinking and talking.

What woman (real or fictional) inspires you?

I don’t have any one specific woman in mind. I have many. These are women who share one thing in common – they made successful u-turns in their careers. Women like Vera Wang, who we all know as the fashion icon, used to be a competitive figure-skater. Singaporean author Emily Lim went from the hospitality industry to a writer of children’s books. It takes courage. It is not easy when you’ve spent 20 years honing a skill, to decide to do something else.

Studies have shown that 80% of women do not feel comfortable discussing finances with family and friends. Is this true in your experience?

Hmmmm, I guess I fall into the 20% of women who do not have a problem discussing finances with close family and friends. I feel it is a matter of what’s to be achieved in such a discussion. Does it serve a good purpose? If the answer’s yes, then an open and honest conversation is probably the way to go.

What is the biggest risk you have taken?

Taking the leap from journalism into entrepreneurship. For 20 years, I was in the newsroom at Mediacorp Pte Ltd and I loved it. Every day was a different news day. I got to meet and speak to so many different people. The newsroom was my second home because I spent so much time there. Fellow reporters became firm friends because we spent so much time together. But one day, I realised going into the newsroom was starting to lose its shine. The adrenaline I used to get from live TV wasn’t there anymore. The question was, what would give me the same passion I used to get from journalism? The answer for me was having a new baby in the form of my own business. It was risky. It was a steep learning curve. It was the best professional decision I ever made.

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome? If so, how have you dealt with this?

Every single day. Making the switch from being a journalist to running my own business would not have been possible without the encouragement and support of my family, especially my husband. He’s an entrepreneur himself, a much more experienced one but from a totally different industry. When self-doubt hits me, he is the first person I go to. He has probably sat through several thousand hours of me running ideas by him, decisions that I wanted to make, and while he may not 100% understand my industry, he always finds a way to give me perspective and the imposter goes away…. until the next time.

What achievement or experience are you most proud of?

Building The Media Consultants into what it is today. We are about a year away from our 10th year in business and I’m amazed so much time has gone by because it seems very much like only yesterday when I was pitching the idea to the partners who I work with still today.

What is a cause that you are passionate about?

That would be teaching the children of today to have a voice. Soft skills like communication are so important today. In Singapore, we have children who are so good at Chemistry or Biology and Mathematics but they cannot express themselves. Part of my time is spent at schools doing pro bono programmes and I enjoy coming up with all kinds of different activities. We do TED Talks. We hold mini 'Shark Tanks' to teach them how to develop pitches. I’m already coaching working adults to communicate, so it is a slight extension of what I do but pitched at a different level for children.

What advice would you give to your 12-year-old self?

Be brave. As a 12-year-old, I was timid, rarely spoke up and I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone. My friends swear that must have been my alter ego because I am completely different today. There are too many things I wish as a 12-year-old, I had experienced and done. In fact, there were still too many things I wish I had done in my twenties. Hence, my advice, not just to my 12-year-old self, but also my own children, is be brave and truly experience what life has to offer, because it offers different things at different stages of your life. Go out and do it all!

What are you most looking forward to year 2024?

On the professional front, expanding my team. I want to continue building up a staple of people I work with and I am blessed to work with people who are also my friends. I learn from them every day and I hope I give back to them as much as they give to me.

On the personal front, I hope to be able to travel a lot more. My husband and I have our eyes on so many places to see, things to do. We recently got into walking and we are realising as we get more fit and we cover more ground faster, Singapore has gotten a little small. We hope to do the Camino Walk soon and hopefully find like-minded friends for our walking holidays all around the world.


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