SHIAO WILLIAMS-SHENG – DIRECTOR OF INNOVATION, PLUS PRODUCTS (now owned by Glass House Brands (OTC: GLASF)
What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?
I’ve had the pleasure of launching several new product lines throughout my time in cannabis. But my proudest accomplishment was bringing sleep-focused products to market in the fall of 2020. They’re cloudberry and lychee, which are two of my favorite candy flavors, and really demonstrate how much the industry has evolved. All of the work – ideation through launch – was done during COVID, and much of it remotely. I am immensely proud of how our team came together to navigate the uncertainty and significant challenges COVID presented to our physical and emotional health and business. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve both experienced and observed in my community an uptick in stress-induced sleepless nights. Developing a line of products that aid in deep and restorative sleep has been very gratifying.
Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?
One of the reasons I love working in the cannabis industry is that social justice is woven into its fabric. I hope that industry leaders continue to push boundaries to advocate for federal decriminalization with gender and racial equity as key pillars. While the industry is more progressive than most given its history and continued federal prohibition, my experience has shown that gender inequality is as present as other less nascent industries. Society has centuries of inherent bias baked into how it treats women, people of color, and an array of marginalized communities. Acknowledging and breaking down these biases has to be a collective effort; I am always learning ways to be a more effective agent of change.
What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
Finding my voice has been my biggest challenge. I’m an introvert, and communicating to a larger audience was not something that I felt comfortable with early on in my career. I’ve had to learn to project my voice and opinions to large, cross-functional teams with very different ways of working. My newfound confidence in public speaking, parried with my more introverted traits of adaptability, attentive listening, and learning how to read a room, helped me to develop and evolve my communication.
What are your personal goals for 2022?
Balance and growth.
Shiao is always hungry. She’s hungry for food that tingles her brain with joy, for dishes she has yet to try, and a hunger to connect with the individuals behind those creations. She’s the sum of a family made up of liberal misfits. She was homeschooled with the directive to find her passion/s, but more importantly to be kind and compassionate. She’s carved out an unorthodox existence in the world. A semi-autodidact, she started in fine dining at the age of 13 and has never looked back. She’s worked her way through kitchens, R&D labs, cannabis start-ups and hearts. She now happily resides as the resident Director of Innovation of PLUS with a strong desire to bring euphoria into people’s daily existence.