#CareerSpotlight: Cheryl Tiu, international journalist
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to travel the world to interview famous chefs and eat at Michelin Star restaurants? Or what it’s like to step down from a prestigious role to launch your own business and develop your personal brand? Or, maybe you’re like me and just want to discover the secret behind building a successful international career.
Here at Women on the Map, we are always curious to hear the stories of women taking risks to follow their dreams and passions. That’s why we are launching the interview series “Career Spotlight” to take a glance into the lives of dynamic and pioneering women who are carving out unconventional paths in their professional lives. Together, we will journey around the world to profile women who are making their mark in extraordinary ways. -Zoe Dauth, Founder of WOTM
To kickstart this series, I interviewed Cheryl Tiu, a journalist and media personality based in Manila, Philippines. She runs her own blog, which she has developed into a multi platform brand of media (she was recently nominated as top 4 most influential for food for influence Asia 2017), events (Cross Cultures) and a consultancy. On top of all that, Cheryl is also editor at large of Lifestyle Asia, a columnist at Forbes.com and Philippine star, a writer for CNN, and a contributor for Asian publications
You will often find Cheryl at food and lifestyle events or experimenting weird dishes in foreign lands. In between juggling deadlines and expanding her digital platform to launch Cross Cultures, Cheryl also managed to co-author the Wallpaper City Guide to Manila.
Read our interview with Cheryl to find out about the most exciting aspects of her career as an international journalist and her passion for building a global community through cuisine and cultural exchange through Cross Cultures.
1. How long have you been living in Manila and what is the best thing about the city?
I was born and raised in Manila, so I’ve basically lived here all my life. The fact that it’s urban yet still developing. The confluence of identities—you’ll get Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and American influences—evidently seen in our cuisine. But most of all the people. When you meet a Filipino, you instantly become a friend and they’ll be more than happy to show you around, adopt you in their circles, and they’ll go out of their way to help you.
2. What is your job?
The short and quick version is that I’m a journalist. I have a couple of publications and media platforms that I’m committed to, in the Philippines (Lifestyle Asia, Philippine Star) Southeast Asia (CNN Travel, Michelin Singapore), USA (Forbes.com), United Kingdom (World’s 50 Best Restaurants- Tastemaker, Wallpaper* City Guide for the Philippines). And I also have my own blog <cheryltiu.com>, which is dearest to me.
The full answer is that I’ve also expanded my blog to become a platform—not just for the written word—but also for events, and consultancy. I founded Cross Cultures in September 2015, an events platform that promotes the exchange of cultures through food, and I work with chefs and restaurateurs around the world doing pop-ups and events with that as core. I’ve also expanded my services and am now also doing consultancy. I am also working on developing a product with some friends that is proudly Filipino with a social aspect. I’m also now working with Action Against Hunger as their ambassador for the Philippines.
3. What does an average day look like?
The work that I do is very different from most people, and far from a typical office job. A lot of people, when they see me, tell me, "Do you ever even work? All you do is travel, eat and party!" And I'm like, "Umm, that IS my work." I think it's great that they think I'm just enjoying because that means I've been successful in doing my "job."
The thing is though I don't really see it as a job although it's not as "easy", "glamorous" and "fun" as most people make it out to be-- at least not all the time anyway. ☺
So, it's never a 9-6 job, I can start whenever and end whenever, even really late at night. The lines between my personal and professional life are often blurred, but I don't mind, I enjoy it and love what I do
When I’m in Manila, I am in front of the computer working most of the day, or at meetings. In the evenings, I have a lot of events—and these are just the nature of my job. I always make time to exercise though (I eat and drink A LOT as part of my job!), at least 4-5x a week, pray, and spend time with my family.
When I travel—which is at least once or twice a month (I’m currently only in Manila for two weeks to a month at a time these days)—I spend as much time as I can away from the computer. I meet, I explore, I eat, I learn, I collaborate, I grow.
4. The most exciting experience you’ve had in your career?
I consider all my travels very exciting experiences. I feel so lucky, grateful and blessed that my job has taken and continues takes me to so many places around the world (currently, I’m just missing Antarctica to complete the seven continents!), meeting so many wonderful people and getting to experience so many things that allow you to grow as a person is just priceless. I have a hashtag now on Instagram #CherylTiuTravels just to keep track!
5. What is the biggest career risk you have taken?
Resigning from my full-time job (and a highly coveted career path) as publisher of the Philippines’ no. 1 luxury magazine so I could focus on building my own brand and my own business—my blog cheryltiu.com as a media platform—which has evolved to birth Cross Cultures, consultancies and creating content with brands for social media.
6. What about the most challenging experience?
Truthfully, coming from a developing country and representing that on a world stage. There have been a lot of “international” events held in first world cities, and when they find out I’m from the Philippines, there’s double standards, and you get limited access vis a vis to others that come from first world. I’m talking about story opportunities, interviews, parties, events, etc. It’s sad.
7. Do you have any creative ventures on the side?
Well, the product that I’m developing with some friends that I mentioned earlier. That’s super exciting. I can’t say much about it yet but we hope to launch this year.
8. What is your main goal for 2017?
Hmm, I have a few. To launch that product successfully and on a global scale; also to continue building my brands, expanding my portfolio with more projects.
9. What is your hidden talent?
My intuition is ridiculously strong. I can always sense a person’s true character more than anyone else.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
Champagne. Rose champagne especially. Oh and now sparkling water. I’m obsessed!
11. What won't you leave home without?
12. If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Purdy’s Hedgehog. My favorite chocolate in the world, and it’s found only in Vancouver!
13. Last place you traveled to: Madrid and Barcelona two weeks ago. I’m off to Bangkok this weekend.
14. Top 3 things you always travel with: Cellphone, rosary, multi-plug adaptor.
15. Favorite place in the world: New York City
16. Fave food: Chicken wings, sisig, tacos, aburi sashimi, dim sum, palak paneer.
17. Strangest food you have ever eaten: I ate a lot of bugs in Mexico City.
18. Favorite restaurant: Ah haha, I have at least one in every city in the world! ☺
19. Secret to success: Work hard, everything will pay off in the end. If you can’t say anything good, don’t say it at all. Also, gratitude—for everything.
20. Life motto: “If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. but whatever you do, you have to keep moving.”
21. Who inspires you?
My parents. Also, women who excel in their various fields.
22. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
From my dad, “Don’t make enemies.”
23. What advice do you have for young women aspiring to be an international journalist?
Honestly? Travel. Travel as much as you can. It isn’t so much just about hopping onto a plane, checking into a hotel and then doing some shopping. Travel is all about opening doors to a wealth of experiences, cultures and people, wherein somehow and in some way, you get to know yourself a lot better, and likewise bask in God’s absolute perfection through the wonders of the world. And honestly, the inspirations from traveling have led to books being written, designs being conceived, jewelry being crafted, restaurants being opened and art being made. So, there you go—it will help any career. ☺
Follow Cheryl on social media below!