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Q&A: Maggie Zhang, Co-Founder, Think Tank

Maggie Zhang is a 20-something professional working in Beijing. Inspired by Lean In and encouraged by Lean In Beijing, she co-founded a Lean In circle in Beijing with her friend Yolanda Wang.

Calling their circle “Think Tank,” their ambitions have grown: Think Tank now hosts monthly small private speaker events, and gaining great momentum in a short time, their regular Think Tank WeChat blog boasts 10,000+ subscribers (updated July 2014). Follow Think Tank on WeChat (ID: THINKTANKBEIJING).


How did you get started?

When I first attended the Lean In Beijing Kick-off event, I was personally deeply inspired by the amazing young women volunteering with Lean In. That moment, I decided to co-found a Lean In circle with my Friend Yolanda, also an amazing person.


What was your inspiration behind this, and what has been the most rewarding? Any challenges? 

My inspiration was from all those young women that volunteering for Lean In and I felt it is such a great experience to know and work together with them. The initial challenge we had was to decide our circle name and information we wanted to present.


How has your work with Lean In Beijing and Think Tank affected your followers? What are your followers like?

When Yolanda and I later joined the Lean In Beijing organizing team, we loved working with all the team members. After we created an official Wechat account for Think Tank (ID: THINKTANK), we immediately got a large number of followers, mostly Chinese in the 20-35 year old demographic.


How did the Lean In Beijing Kick Off event inspire you?

At the first Lean In Beijing Kick Off event, I was more willing to share my personal experiences with all the other attendees. It felt great to learn from each other, from people with different backgrounds and cultures.


I know time and leadership concerns made you hesitate before starting this professional Lean In circle. What made you commit, and then take it to the next level?

Managing time has always been something I’m working on The good thing is that I’m energetic and passionate about what I do. Lean In is one of those activities that I would enjoy doing. My co-leader’s passion and the other team member’s contributions have also made me work to take it to the next level.


Do you have any “lean in” moments?

When I decided to start a circle with Yolanda–that was my lean in moment. It’s made my much more confident in myself.


What can you hope to achieve through your efforts with Lean In Beijing and your professional circle?

For the Think Tank blog and our related events, getting more followers is certainly a big goal.

However, I hope that through our blog and events, we can really make a change for women and help them to achieve their goals, to believe in themselves.


What is some advice you can share to young professional women (and men!) in China and around the world?

Women’s position in the world has not been changed in the recent decades, but in our generation, I have faith that this change will happen, even if it’s slow.

My advice is that we have to believe in ourselves and start to reach more opportunities. When you believe, your confidence is more likely to grow. When your confidence grows, you are more likely to get more opportunities. 


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