When Vivian Yang was returning to the workforce after taking a few years at home with her daughter, she wasn’t searching for a position with purpose, but she found one. In her role managing the biofuels supply chain at Targray, an international renewable energy company with offices in Montreal, Yang helps get biofuels across North America.
Originally from China, Yang met her Canadian husband while working in the Netherlands and the couple decided to move here to be closer to his family. We spoke to Yang about the important work she does, and how she manages career while raising her now six year old daughter.
Why did you start doing what you do?
My husband and I came to Canada shortly after my daughter was born. I was a stay at home mom until she turned two, then I made a decision to go back to work in my field — logistics. But while browsing job openings I discovered Targray, which operates primarily in the renewal energy industry. Since becoming a mom I’d become more interested in environmental issues, so this job opportunity really spoke to me even though I wasn’t really familiar with the renewable energy market at that point.
What does this work bring to your life?
Working in this sector has taught me a lot about renewal energy and the benefits that it has to society, and has made me more environmentally aware in general. Also, on a more personal level the company’s culture places a lot of emphasis on sustainability, health, and wellness — which has contributed a lot to improve my quality of life. For example we have a gym at work, inside the building, and we have a private trainer. And they order fresh food for employees every week — they’re trying to teach people how to eat properly, how to exercise properly. I’m really enjoying it, you know. It’s different from the work experience I used to have. I’m happy, and have already been with Targray four years.
Why is this work important?
Because our company supplies mainly biodiesel — and this kind of product contributes a lot to lower the carbon emissions of diesel-powered vehicles — we are contributing positively to the environment. I feel that by doing this work we are collectively helping take better care of this planet.
Has parenthood changed how you view your work?
Absolutely! Finding the right work/life balance is a challenge. It’s not easy.
What do your kids think about what you do?
She’s still too young to fully understand it. Part of my job is fleet management and I’m directing rail cars all over North America, so my daughter thinks mommy works with choo choo trains. She thinks it’s fun. But she does know that my job is also to take care of the planet, and make the air cleaner. She thinks it’s great. Also at school and home we’ve been educating her about how we can help the planet by not wasting water, paper, electricity. I think it’s really important we teach kids from a young age. I think a lot of things become habit, built over stages. And they see how the parent is doing it, and they copy.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other parents about living with purpose?
As much as we love our kids, we should not forget we need time for ourselves. No matter whether you are a working mom or a stay home one we should take time to do the things we really love. Just to be ourselves, not somebody’s mom. For me, going to work is important because it gives me that change of scene, but even stay at home moms need something else too. I really enjoy working because I’m focusing on something else, It’s also a good feeling to be challenged at work and to succeed. Plus, a lot of my colleagues, they also have kids, so we talk, exchange ideas, opinions, and sometimes discuss issues together. That’s really helpful for me.
Also in respect of being a mom, you have lots of responsibilities, so having a healthy lifestyle is very important. We need exercise to be physically and mentally in a good state, and by doing this we pass along things to our kids — influence them — about how to live their life properly. How to build good habits in their own lives.
What do you think you have in common with other moms?
Well, we all love our kids to death, but it is always a challenge to multi-task. I think we’re all facing this challenge. Not enough time to do everything. As a mother of a young child, I’ve always got my hands full with a busy schedule, but I try to enjoy this, it’s part of giving and sharing, it’s part of life. I really enjoy it. They grow so fast, and I know it won’t be like this forever.
What’s been hardest about what you do?
There’s always a constant conflict between work and school activities. I can’t join every single event at school, and I can’t volunteer for most of the school trips. So sometimes my daughter will ask me to join and say, “Well, somebody else’s mom is here, somebody else’s daddy is here, how come you are not here?” So that really makes me feel guilty, but I also try to explain to her that there are other things that are very important that require mummy’s attention. On the other hand I do appreciate that I can work from home, especially when my daughter is sick. I stay home with her and it’s really no stress. I’m lucky my workplace is very family oriented.
What other moms do you admire?
Oh, there are quite a few, especially among my friends who seem to be more patient than me. Getting my daughter ready every morning is always so stressful and I am definitely not patient then — the waking her up, making sure she’s eating a proper breakfast, finishing everything — I’m lucky that our work isn’t monitoring people like, ‘You’re late by five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever. If I’m in late, I stay late. I make sure I complete my hours. And that’s really very helpful. I guess I admire the moms that are very patient, because although I’m considered a patient mom, I’m far from perfect!
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