For Rose Tsou, head of eCommerce and International at Verizon Media, faith is inextricably linked to the workplace.
“Being a corporate person, I believe the way we glorify God is through our work every day. That people see how we conduct our work, what kind of person we are, and know at the same time that we are a Christian,” Tsou told The Christian Post.
“Sometimes I feel that without having to speak the words people know. That’s the quality and hope that influences people. To me, Christian qualities are respecting each other, loving people, caring about others. Do we put ourselves before others' interests? It is not just about what we say God is, but it is about who we are.”
A seasoned digital industry leader, Tsou’s success is undeniable. The former senior vice president of Yahoo's Asia-Pacific business, Tsou was for years responsible for managing Yahoo’s businesses in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and India. Under her leadership, Yahoo became a brand synonymous with the internet in Taiwan.
Subsequent to Verizon's acquisition of Yahoo, Tsou was promoted as head of International for Verizon Media, leading brands such as Yahoo, Verizon Ad Platforms, HuffPost, and TechCrunch for growth in markets in APAC, EMEA, LATAM.
Her experience isn’t limited to the tech world, she’s also worked extensively in the entertainment industry, collaborating with top-tier companies including MTV Taiwan, UFO/Warner Music, Procter & Gamble Taiwan, and others.
Tsou’s skill set wasn’t lost on Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, who hired her to lead Yahoo Taiwan nearly two decades ago.
“I was consulted about another candidate to oversee Asia-Pacific, and I asked [Yang], ‘Why not consider me?’ Of course, I certainly surprised him by placing that question directly to him,” she recalled.
“It was a very brave thing to do,” she added. “It was dead silence for a couple of seconds before he said a word. He said, ‘Let me get back to you.’ About two weeks later, the Asia Pacific region was broken into two pieces ... later on, I had the opportunity to consolidate the whole Asia Pacific region, and I ran that for almost 10 years.”
Later, Tsou asked Yang to allow her to oversee the company’s international markets. “I said, ‘I know the pain and opportunities, why don’t you let me help you with all the international, where I could leverage our engineers, not just by selling products but by really building products and consumers?’”
“He gave me this opportunity,” Tsou said.
“I always ask myself, ‘What can I do to really help the company? Where am I best placed to help my boss, to help my company to do the right things?’” Tsou said of her workplace strategy, adding that she always holds a “consumer-first mentality.”
“That’s how we are successful despite all the ups and downs of the industry change,” she said.
Even though she has an impressive resume, Tsou is quick to credit God — and not herself — for her achievements.
“I go through every day with prayer,” she said. “When I feel distant from God, when I stop praying, when I stop reading the Bible, when I stop going to my church fellowship, I’m not as happy as I can be, I’m not as content as I can be. I have more anxiety than I need to have. That makes me very aware that my well-being and where I am has everything to do with my relationship with God on a daily basis.”
But it wasn’t always that way. Tsou, a mother of two, told CP that she became a Christian “by accident” in 2000, the same year she began working for Yahoo.
“My family had very little influence, and my older sister became Christian and no one really knew,” she recalled. “At the time, I had back pain, and my sister called me and said, ‘Let’s go see a pastor who is really good at healing back pain.’ I went there to try to heal my back pain.”
“I had no idea what it’s like to go to a church,” she admitted. “It was a small church. I honestly don’t remember. All I could remember was that people were just singing the same songs repeatedly. I was thinking, ‘Why is it taking so long?’ To me, it was like going to an emergency room. I waited until the end, and toward the end, people lined up and the pastor prayed for the people, pulled on their hand, and it actually did help.”
While waiting in line to see the pastor, Tsou began talking to the pastor’s wife and inexplicably began crying.
“I was so embarrassed. I was like, ‘Why am I crying?’ But they told me not to worry. The Holy Spirit was with me, but I had no idea what it was. It was just such a unique experience.”
As the pastor laid his hand on Tsou’s head, he told her he saw a vision of a little tree hanging on a cliff on a mountain. Hovering above the tree was an eagle, seemingly very lonely.
“I was touched and understood,” Tsou said. “I was someone who didn’t have faith but worked very hard and put work as number one priority in my life. There was a lot of loneliness inside.
"That day was a very powerful experience for me. The pastor asked me to come back next week, so I did.”
Tsou was baptized on Dec. 30, 2000, a day that changed her life forever.
“Throughout my childhood and school years, I always did well. I went to the best schools. I didn’t really have any real setbacks,” she said. “I always did my best. I always outperformed my average at critical times. I was really lucky, but I wasn’t really confident.”
“What really changed me was when I came to know God,” Tsou continued, adding that prior to her conversion, she felt “lonely and empty” despite her tremendous success.
“When I started to have faith, things started to make sense to me. I asked myself, ‘Why did I get so lucky to get to work for Yahoo and had all these successes when I’m the least technical person that one could ever come across?’ After I knew God, I concluded that God chose me to run a media [corporation] that was going to [be] very important in modern times, and that’s when the internet became such an important medium in our lives.”
Following Tsou’s conversion, her entire family embraced Christianity, including her husband, elderly parents, and in-laws.
“Everyone became a Christian,” she shared. “It changed our life and family. I go to church every Sunday. It becomes something I really enjoy doing. We even have a fellowship in our office. I have always been a very open Christian. It has become a very important part of me.”
When it comes to her career, Tsou said her faith drives her to be “the change agent to help our company to continue to transform.”
“Humans are very limited, and they don’t like to go out of their comfort zone,” she added. “We tend to think of things naturally from our perspective.”
“My goal for 2020 is to continue to bring people from different parts of the world together,” Tsou continued. “First, to come together on not only professional but also a personal level.”
According to Tsou, people “do their best when they feel that they are supported, when they know they are understood, when they know that there is trust.”
“I see that is my job as a leader, not just giving them strategic direction which, of course, is important, but how do we be strategic? How do we get to the results that we set ourselves up for?,” she explained.
“My role is to form structurally or create opportunities or planting seeds in their minds to help them understand each other and overcome their barriers between gender, age, so we can really perform as one team.”
On a personal level, Tsou told CP she strives to put God — and her family — first. That, she said, is her first priority.
“As I look at the ups and downs of the last 20 years, I see clearly I am able to be where I am right now not because of me, but because I have been faithful to God,” she declared. “God only wants to have a faithful child. Every time I think, Why am I here? Why not somebody else?’ it humbles me. It also takes away my anxiety.”
“There is increasing pressure as you work, and it seems that it never ends,” she added. “That perspective really helps me understand why am I here and sets my perspective right. I really feel that this is not to my credit.”