With flaming red hair, a cheerful smile and eyes glinting with purpose, Yvon Bock looks the part of a dragon-slaying, bias-breaking protagonist straight out of an illustrated children’s book. If she would write the series herself, Astrid Lindgren would have good company.
In real life, the business owner and mother of four already has a great deal on her plate. Hegen, the innovative baby-feeding brand she founded in 2015 to support women in their journey of motherhood, is Singapore’s tenth fastest growing company (as of January 2022). Already a hit in China, the brand is now focused on growing its global footprint to 35 markets within the next five years.
Just within the last year, it has also evolved to provide physical and virtual antenatal consultations and preparatory workshops through its Hegen Lactation Centre, which has an in-house team of specialists. “Seeing how we have made a difference to the community of breastfeeding mothers all around the world despite the pandemic and hearing how Hegen products have helped and supported them is truly an achievement that I am proud of,” she says,
As a champion of inclusivity, diversity and women in the workforce, Bock is also proud that 75 per cent of Hegen staff are female, with many in key roles and managerial positions. “We don’t decide the roles by gender, instead we focus on the best candidate suitable for the job requirements,” she tells The Peak.
What is your purpose?
I started Hegen with a clear purpose—to help and support breastfeeding mothers around the world, regardless of race, language or religion. Hegen was created based on my own personal pain points with breastfeeding for a decade to my 4 children. I deeply understand the challenge of women juggling the demands of work and modern lifestyles with an intense feeding routine and it inspired me to develop a support system to allow women to continue upon the priceless experience of breastfeeding, for as long as they wish to do so.
A positive affirmation every girl/woman should tell themselves.
Be kind to yourself—Given that today’s world can be full of criticism and harsh words, I believe it is important for every woman to speak kindly to herself. Being kind to yourself and celebrating YOU promotes happiness and confidence.
The theme for IWD 2022 is Break the Bias. In what ways have you done so?
I break the bias by pursuing my dreams and doing what I want to do as a woman entrepreneur. I took courage to leap into the unknown and march into the dark with a glimmer of an idea to start Hegen which I strongly believed in. Women entrepreneurs have often been rated as less competent when it comes to decision making because we tend to be more empathetic. For me, I always turn a perceived female weakness into strength. I believe that it is not about proving one’s worth as a female in the business world, but more about using our unique traits (such as empathy) to lead and grow the business.
As a mother building a motherhood brand, I break the bias of juggling work and family. Women entrepreneurs often face the challenge of wearing multiple hats and juggling time between family and work. For me, I choose to see that these additional roles allow me to demonstrate a level of tenacity and confidence when it comes to my ability to lead in all facets of life. Between work and family, there will always be an opportunity cost in whichever way you choose. The best way to cope is to set your priorities. For me, when multiple things come at the same time, I remind myself that family duties take precedence. I then prioritise and plan ahead so as to better juggle each role.
Your pet peeve in the gender debate?
One of my biggest pet peeves in the gender debate is motherhood being viewed as a bump in a woman’s career. I believe that it is not about everything being equal, but instead it is to push for equal opportunities and grading. For example, women should be empowered and enabled to pursue their personal dreams and goals even after they marry or have children. To break the bias, I firmly believe we should applaud women at the workplace for taking the leap of juggling children, family and work. We should not penalise them in their career development. Working mums should not be short-changed in opportunity and stereotyped by expectations of being a main caregiver. This also means there should be a co-sharing of responsibilities of raising children and there should be equal contribution to a child’s love.
What’s a surefire way to lift your mood?
Dancing to club music! I love to dance like nobody’s watching, just close my eyes and be me.
What’s your personal superpower?
Overflowing positivity and always seeing the good in people.
A lesson/value you hope your own children will pick up.
My children are growing up in a society focused heavily on social media. One value that I want my children to learn is not to compare themselves to the beauty standards set by the media, people and culture. We constantly measure ourselves against other people and feel judged for our physical appearance. As a parent, I want to lead by example and guide my children not to be critical of body image, including their own, and reject negative stereotypes of unrealistic body standards. By fostering a body-positive lifestyle at home, I hope to show them that they are not defined by how they look, but by their values and how they act.