When Natalie Pringle relocated to Hong Kong from London in 2015, her goal was to establish the International division of the Real Estate company she was working for.
However, fate intervened. Her passion for property, investment, and growing new businesses eventually led her to the opportunity of a lifetime. Fast forward to three years later, she is now the Chief Marketing Officer of The New Savvy and Chief Ambassador for the Hong Kong division.
Natalie has always been dedicated to supporting and empowering those around her. This is a reflection of her own personal goals to push boundaries and transform into the best that she can be.
The New Savvy (TNS): Tell us more about your background. How have your past experiences led you to become who you are today?
Natalie: I have always been aware of the importance of working hard from a young age and started earning money of my own from the age of 15 with jobs at the weekends and during the summer holidays which my parents encouraged. My mother has always been a role model to me as she has never been afraid of hard work and has often made sacrifices so that my sister and I can have the best opportunities.
Growing up I wanted to be in the position where I would be financially independent and give back to my mother to show her the gratitude I have for everything she has done and that has always been my driving force.
Within a short space of time, I moved from a role in a blue chip financial recruitment firm to a boutique property agency in London. Having moved to Hong Kong to open their SE Asia division, I quickly understood the importance of networking and realized that there was a phenomenal group of women who are doing incredible things professionally and this has inspired me to keep moving forward and always look for ways that I can keep learning and developing myself.
I’ve always been passionate about supporting the women around me and because I was in a position where I worked my way up through the organization very quickly, I wanted to show other girls and women that they could also achieve their goals and do anything that they set their minds to. Whilst growing professionally is important, I’ve always sought other influences whether through reading motivational and business books or attending events to make sure that I am exposed to new ideas. This has helped me to ensure that I continue working on being a rounded leader for my team.
I saw The New Savvy conference advertised on Instagram early in 2017 when I was browsing inspirational women’s groups and decided I would fly to Singapore to attend. I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I have made as it really opened my eyes to the world of financial literacy which I knew I had overlooked previously. I have always worked hard and been fortunate to earn pay rises, however, I did not really know what to do with my money once I had saved and have made mistakes in the past. The New Savvy conference was a turning point and I knew that there must be many women in a similar position as me who could benefit from their work.
There are a lot of Women in Business groups in Hong Kong and events focused on supporting entrepreneurs with a number of incredibly passionate advocates, however, I had not really seen anything which was focusing on empowering women through a greater understanding of their finances.
Working in International Real Estate I know a lot of amazing women who specialized in finance and investment and saw an opportunity to bring The New Savvy to Hong Kong. From that point, we have moved forward with expanding across the region and never looked back.
From having this realisation last April and now being part of The New Savvy team as the CMO one year on, I have already had the most incredible experience getting to know the concerns that women have and how crucial it is that we are managing our money correctly in order to give us greater protection, fulfilment, and empowerment. If I can help to inspire just one woman to take action and make a difference to her future through the events we run and content we produce, in the same way that Anna and her team inspired me at The Future is a Female conference, then that is something that I will be incredibly proud of.
TNS: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
Natalie: I have had a lot of influences in my life at various stages whether it has been my mother showing me what it is to have a strong work ethic, to previous bosses for giving me opportunities and seeing my determination to succeed. I’ve had mentors along the way, both personally and professionally and will always seek to learn from those around me so I am very grateful to the people I encounter. They have all helped to shape who I am today and ensured that I have had some phenomenal opportunities.
TNS: What made you want to be a part of The New Savvy team?
Natalie: After attending the conference I could see that there was a huge opportunity to advance the work that Anna had started in Singapore and share the vision of The New Savvy with women in Hong Kong where I live. As I became more involved and spoke to women at various events that I attended, it only reinforced my belief that this was something which was really missing and that could make such a difference to the lives of women, not only in Asia, but worldwide.
Sharing my experiences, talking about the passion and values of The New Savvy and hearing the struggles that women often face makes me certain that this is only the beginning and there is so much more than we need to be doing to empower women financially.
TNS: Having studied Law at university, what made you pursue a career in Marketing?
Natalie: My career has been incredibly varied so far and that has given me a wide variety of skills which I utilize every day. I originally chose to study Law at University as I had started an introductory course in college and thought it was interesting enough to keep me engaged for the duration of a three year University degree.
During that time I wavered between wanting to become a Solicitor or a Barrister. I eventually made the decision whilst working overseas in Cyprus as an intern in a law firm that actually I did not wish to spend the time working from the bottom to establish myself in the legal profession and sought out a role which was challenging, in a fast-paced environment and which was people focused. This led me to my role in the recruitment firm and then on to London Real Estate.
Working with The New Savvy is not simply about the marketing side of things but about being incredibly passionate about the mission and vision that the company embodies. It is something that is fundamental to me and because I believe so wholeheartedly in what the team stands for, it makes it very easy to speak to other people about what we do, find ways that we can advance the cause and spread The New Savvy love.
I’m very happy that my path has led me here and if I had not moved to Asia then there is a chance I would not have been aware of The New Savvy but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
TNS: Could you describe one of your typical work days?
Natalie: There isn’t really a typical day for me and I am able to decide the structure which is very different from being in a corporate environment but also exciting. I have always enjoyed having the type of role where every day is varied and typically when you are in a people focused business this happens naturally but now working as an entrepreneur it is down to be very disciplined so that I can do all the things that I want and need to do in a day.
I have learnt that I need to be very strict with my planning and rely heavily on my “Best Self” journal to plan out my day, setting three of the most important tasks that I need to do in that day and also noting down any other things that I need to follow up on or emails to be sent. There is also a section to reflect on what I am grateful for at the beginning and end of the day which is a great way of taking time to appreciate where I am whilst also striving to achieve my goals.
TNS: As The New Savvy’s Hong Kong Chief Ambassador, how do you motivate others?
Natalie: By spreading the word about The New Savvy, looking for opportunities for collaboration with other female-focused organizations, sharing my own personal experience about how I came to be involved in The New Savvy and how it has helped me with financial awareness. I realized very quickly that almost every woman that I speak to has some level of insecurity when it comes to managing her finances and when you open up and share your experiences, others are more willing to vocalize their fears and admit that they would also appreciate help in some areas.
TNS: How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
Natalie: The things that have made me feel most successful have been when I have enabled members of my team to succeed and learn new things or achieve their goals. I firmly believe that helping people and using your ability to support others is really when all the hard work is actually worth something.
I still have a long way to go before I would truly consider myself successful but I think it does change depending on the situation and I tend to always want to set my sights higher once I am getting close to achieving one of my goals. This which can be frustrating but it keeps it keeps things challenging and interesting. If you are helping people along the way and empowering those around you then you are definitely winning.
TNS: Can you share with us three things that are on your bucket list?
- Achieving financial independence
- Advancing the mission of The New Savvy to empower 100 million women to find financial happiness
- Being in a position where I can make sure that my mother never has to worry about money again
TNS: How do you achieve work-life balance?
Natalie: This is something that I have traditionally struggled with because I tend to go all in if it is something that I care about. I’ve been completely consumed by my job previously when in the corporate environment because I was very passionate about my role and my responsibilities to my clients but it was not sustainable. I reached a stage where I realized that I did not actually know what my interests were outside of my job or what I did for my own enjoyment.
Whilst there was a time when I was proud of working long hours, not sleeping and not having leisure time outside of work, I now see that it is simply crazy and creates unrealistic ideals for others. It is so important to do something that you are passionate about but also to be kind to yourself and understand that there must be some form of balance. That will look and feel different for everyone but mostly it is important to listen to yourself. Knowing when you need a rest or a night out with friends and when you probably need to focus, work a bit later for a few days or start that new project you have been putting off.
Now that I manage my own time I do need to be especially conscious of this and whilst I love working late into the night, some days I also schedule time in my diary when I can read or have coffee with a friend, otherwise we lose sight of what is really important.
TNS: What is the most useful tip you received to you manage your money?
Natalie: To start saving early and make it automatic. The times when I have been at my best with saving and planning, I have made sure that it is as easy as possible and that I do it by default without even thinking about it. The money comes out as soon as I receive my salary and into a savings account so I don’t even miss it. That has got to be the starting point for anyone who is now trying to take control of their finances and start saving regularly.
The other one is to avoid credit cards at all costs and pay off credit card debt ASAP. It’s truly astonishing how damaging this kind of debt can be and how easy it is for most people to obtain credit in this way so we must ensure that we educate ourselves about what we are actually signing up for.
TNS: What is your attitude and outlook towards personal finance? How has it changed over the years?
Natalie: My attitude to personal finance has changed quite a bit over time. I have always been motivated to earn my own money instead of relying on my parents, however, at times I have had the attitude that I can always just earn more money or take another job and will always be able to look after myself. Now a few years later I fully understand the importance of planning and saving as well as why it is so crucial to invest. This ensures that the money you earn is actually working for you and you have the opportunity to optimize a number of income streams rather than needing to simply work forever in order to survive.
I guess it is a classic example of the differences highlighted in the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. There are many people who fall into the category of working hard to earn a living, paying bills and expanding their lifestyle in accordance with their pay rises and promotions. This is incredibly dangerous, however, as it relies on a person being able to continue working to keep up with their expenses and often reaching a point where they have no option but to work harder and longer to sustain that.
I’ve certainly reached the point where I think about the way I manage my finances very differently and with my experience in Real Estate investment, as well as gaining a better understanding of other asset classes, I can see how essential it is to develop a portfolio and have multiple income streams.
This provides far greater protection and means that there will always be something to fall back on in the event that I am not able to work or something else unexpected happens. It’s been a steep learning curve but I am glad I had the opportunity to make mistakes and develop my understanding at a relatively early stage so that I can observe good financial habits and make a difference to my future.
TNS: How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
Natalie: That’s a very broad question, however, I would say that it really comes down to knowing what you want to achieve and then making a commitment every day to do something which will bring you closer to that goal. Many of us possess a lot of self-doubts and limiting beliefs which make us feel as though we won’t be able to achieve certain things, however, once we get past that barrier in our minds there really is nothing we cannot achieve.
I actually enjoy choosing things that I think are difficult and doing them just to show myself that if I set my mind to something then I will be able to do it. Running a marathon was one of them because I have grown up as a swimmer and really don’t take any pleasure from running but I just wanted to see if I could do it. I ended up running both London and Rome marathons and now don’t have any particular desire to do anymore because I feel like I have ticked that box and know I can do it if I really wanted to.
Doing things which seem daunting or difficult can actually feel exhilarating and can motivate us to face other challenges which we never thought we would conquer.
Other than facing our fears and pushing our limits, women can become more fulfilled by being open to the people around them about their insecurities or things that they don’t know. I have seen this so often when it comes to the topic of personal finances because there is so much benefit to be had by speaking to others, asking questions and sharing your concerns. Through asking the right questions and not being scared of sounding silly I have learned so much and wish I had spoken out about things I was uncertain of much earlier.
The more knowledge we have, whether it is in a professional capacity or concerning personal matters in relationships with those around us or even our money, the more empowered we become to make the right decisions and fully take control of our own situation. The confidence that comes with that security and wellbeing most certainly brings a fulfillment which can’t be found elsewhere and really comes from being open and embracing vulnerability.
TNS: Any advice for women looking to break gender stereotypes and advance their careers?
Natalie: The world of work is changing dramatically and we have a “new normal” where emerging industries are embracing ideas and concepts based on their merits and innovation rather than where or who they are coming from. That is incredibly exciting and this is why I love being involved in Fintech.
I do understand that there is still a long way to go, however, particularly in some of the more conventional industries and the best advice I can give is to just be fearless and give everything you have in order to break down those barriers and succeed.
It is true that we often have to work harder or longer hours in order to be considered in the same way as our male counterparts but now that we see more women in the C-suites and sat at the boardroom table we need opportunities to learn from them. Equally, we should be making sure that once we do reach those levels, we help other women to develop and give them the chances which we may not have had.
TNS: What are you most afraid of?
Natalie: Being in a bad financial position and not being able to generate income to support myself. I’ve always dealt with any financial instability by working hard and believed that this would be the way that I can protect myself, however, the thought that one day I might not be able to work and do not have the means to support myself is incredibly scary. This is why the message of financial independence we deliver at The New Savvy is so crucial for all women to understand and implement.
TNS: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Natalie: I am a member of the SMUGz Dragon Boat team here in Hong Kong and we train three times a week so I am very fortunate that I now get to spend a lot more time at the beach and on the water at the weekends. Other than paddling I like to clear my head by going to the gym, running or hiking and feel great after sweating it out and having some head space.
During the week I am often attending seminars and events supporting some of the brilliant women we have here in the Hong Kong community. I love to cook so try to find time to make dinner at home when I can but also really enjoy eating out – there are constantly new restaurants to try! My real indulgence is taking time out to read, somewhere quiet with a good cup of coffee. That really is bliss for me although it doesn’t happen as often as I might like!
TNS: Give us a parting quote!
Natalie: I’ve certainly evolved throughout my career and my relationship with money has changed significantly. I feel grateful to have experienced what it is like to earn a good salary and now be in a position where I am doing something that I care deeply about. So my quote is this:
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s the difference you make in people’s lives” – Michelle Obama
Whilst we need to have a certain amount of money firstly to ensure that we are secure and can look after ourselves and our families, beyond that point, fulfilment really comes from helping others and doing something that you care about so that you can live your ‘why”. The New Savvy is all about empowering women to find their financial happiness and the difference that can make, and has already made, to the lives of women worldwide is tremendous. I am so proud to be part of this movement.
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