HeForShe: Han-Son Lee | Founder, DaddiLife

Han-Son Lee

Hello! I’m Han-Son, founder of DaddiLife – a platform for modern day dads and a community of over 150,000 dads.

Alongside DaddiLife I also consult for a range of FMCG brands and have previously worked across a range of marketing roles from brand through to digital and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My first job out of University was with The Co-op Graduate scheme in Manchester. It was (and I’m sure still is) a fantastic scheme that moves you across a variety of business roles and projects that have real impact.

As part of the scheme, we were recommended to have a career plan so, at the age of 22, I had a really nicely drawn out career plan.  My learning some 20 plus years later is this…it’s good to have a plan, but it’s even better to be nimble and spot the opportunities that really matter to you!

If I think about my career, I wouldn’t say it’s been a particularly linear one or one where you’d look at it and say there was a clear line of where I’d end up. After the Co-op, I joined one of the UK’s first real digital agencies, before moving back to London to work in research, innovation and insights. I then set up my own technology company and upon exiting that, made a mark in the world of new digital and CRM before adding DaddiLife into the mix now too.

In many ways, I’ve been guided to opportunities that felt fresh, exciting and places to make a mark – whether that meant working for someone, on behalf of someone, or working for myself.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Absolutely – both personal and professional. Probably the biggest one though was discovering and developing my real authentic self at work.

At a younger age, I always felt a sense of pressure to be this archetypal, very Alpha role model of a leader that I guess a lot of graduate scheme mentoring makes you look up to.

The challenge I had with this was that it’s very anti who I am as a person naturally, so I found it hard to try and fit that style of leadership. As I’ve got older, I’ve found it much better to be much more authentic to yourself and have a core mission around you that you want to achieve. It’s been much more effective in growing teams of people and works better that way too!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

There are a range of things I’ve been proud of, but forming and growing DaddiLife has got to be right up there.

It has a simple mission which is to shine the spotlight on modern day dads. Having grown it now to a community of just over 150,000, it’s making a change every day for a group of dads going through a generational shift when it comes to how they parent.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Working with great people. No great achievement is possible without a great team. I’m very fortunate to work with a great team of writers, designers, and wider partners to help bring the modern day dad voice to life.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I have and would continue to do so again.  I’ve had both a coach and mentor in my career and both sides have been crucial in my development.

Many of my mentors I’m still in touch with today and I’ve always found good mentors to have that level of experience in real situations that can help guide and further your own mission.

I am not someone’s mentee at the moment, but I’m always open to learning more.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), harnessed properly can be such an important driver of success in business and society more widely.

A lot of the momentum with D&I is within businesses at the moment, and rightly so, though there is also an argument that we’re now approaching a juncture where D&I  needs to  go beyond an HR led initiative to a CEO led piece – to achieve both the balance and innovation that D&I at its finest delivers.

Government policy has a critical role in facilitating this – creating the right policies and networks to bring true D&I thinking to bear and to showcase more overtly the core benefits it brings. If we can get it right at a business level, it might just start to filter out across wider society where D&I is needed too.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I don’t think men need to just support gender equality at work – they need to be a core part of the movement. For a long time our own perceptions of gender equality have been shaped largely around gender equality for women and mums. While it’s understandable that change needed to start there, we need to realise that gender equality is now about dads as much as it is about mums.

Modern day dads want a different shape of work to what was the case a generation ago, with many now going through the same struggles around workplace progression, flexible working and culture/perception of involved parents at work.

Gender equality needs to include men. Dads at work who want to achieve a better balance – that is what true gender equality should be about. Here is where I think allyship across all parents and carers at work really can start to make a much more discernible difference. If dads can achieve a good work/life balance alongside mums, then ultimately this will lead to better parenting and a more balanced relationship between both partners.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Stop thinking so much about what could be and start realising what is now.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We have just launched a piece of research with Leeds Trinity University looking at the growing gaps of provision and support when it comes to young fathers. It’s an often overlooked area of modern day fatherhood, and we’re hoping to shine even more of a light in that area.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Suki Sandhu, Philip Baldwin, Asif Sadiq MBE, Rob Neil OBE and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here

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