MiaoMiao Fan, International Voice and SMS Product Manager at Rakuten Symphony, is one of the talented tech leaders shepherding Rakuten Symphony’s pioneering product lineup. We sat down for a candid conversation with the Singapore-based team member to talk about the projects keeping her busy, what drives her professionally and more.
Tell us a little bit about your early days?
I was born in China but have spent most of my life in Singapore. I came to Singapore to study when I was a kid and have stayed ever since. My first job was at Siemens, working in the IT department as a Support Specialist. I then moved on to FedEx and Telenor, a telecom operator based out of Norway. After a stint at Vonage, a cloud communications platform, I joined Rakuten Symphony.
"While Rakuten is a Japanese company, the people are from all over the world, and that fosters a great international environment which helps you learn from each other and pushes you even further."
What drew you to this organization specifically?
I had heard of Rakuten before and knew of the brand since the beginning of the Ichiba days. I also used Rakuten for online shopping and so, was very interested when I found out that they were moving into the telecom space. So when I was contacted by my manager, Tarek, about the opportunity and heard they were looking for people with my skillset, I was excited to join up.
Is there an aspect of the work or environment here that you especially enjoy?
While Rakuten is a Japanese company, the people I work with are from all over the world, and that fosters a great international environment which helps you learn from each other and pushes you even further. You can see the Japanese genes in Rakuten in the company’s Asakai concept [a weekly all company meeting], something which is quite different compared to other international organizations. It offers us a full picture of what the company is trying to achieve at every level. This is extremely important because working blindly without a sense of purpose can make a job tedious, leading to a lack of engagement for employees. By discussing objectives and goals with different stakeholders, I feel a stronger sense of teamwork and a realization that even though we are from different backgrounds, we are working towards the same overarching goals.
"It is important to start small, without short cuts and work towards my objective every day."
What does a day in your work life look like?
I am currently working with the team on developing a new product, so my day consists of many alignment meetings — both internally with teammates and with external vendors and stakeholders. As a product manager, I am constantly working to better understand the product, the market and the user through market research, thinking of the optimal way to position the product.
What are some of your interests outside work?
I love weightlifting. I used to go to the gym regularly before COVID. Unfortunately, over the last 2 years, I have not been able to attend as frequently. I am also an ACE (American Council on Exercise) personal trainer and so I am looking forward to going back to my previous lifestyle. Aside from this, I also enjoy playing the ukulele.
Is there a phrase or motto that works as inspiration for you?
Think big. Start small. I know this is always applied to startups and entrepreneurs. For me, it also refers to my daily activities. The phrase forces me to be introspective and have a more macro view of my goals. It is important to start small, without short cuts and work towards my objective every day.
"As a product manager, I am constantly working to better understand the product, the market and the user through market research, thinking of the optimal way to position the product."
Any personal or professional goals you are looking to achieve in the near future?
Professionally, with a product launch scheduled in the next few months, the main goal is to finish the project on time and successfully. I also need to go back to my regular workout routine since I have to earn points to maintain my personal trainer certificate. To achieve this, I also have a few workshops and seminars planned out.
Finally, what are some of the podcasts/books/shows keeping you busy at the moment?
I recently watched a show called “Light The Night” on Netflix. I have also developed a habit of listening to podcasts daily. They are usually in Chinese and on a range of topics. In terms of books, I am currently reading a book called “Uplink” which delves into understanding how to build a harmonious and efficient personal and professional relationship with your surroundings.