Raising children in a digital age, having more patience as a dad and prioritizing family over work. I talk to Lennard Lim on loving and raising two kids, and how family goes beyond bloodlines.
Lennard is a Product Manager of Trust and Safety at TikTok. He has more than a decade of product management experience at Yahoo, Singtel, BBC and most recently, GovTech, and a strong believer in making use of analytics for strategy and design. Lennard is a father of two, a son aged 11 and a daughter of their own aged 2.5 years old.
Lennard is an engaged father who takes the effort to prepare breakfast for his children daily, despite having domestic help. He met his wife 14 years ago when they were both Product Managers at Yahoo! so we also talk about how the tech landscape has radically changed since then. As a parent in tech, Lennard shares with us a picture of his kids’ relationship with social media and also discusses how parenthood helps him be more patient and consider challenges from different perspectives.
To connect with Lennard, you may find him on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lennard-lim-2b339920/
Don’t forget to head over to parents.fm to stay up to date with new and previous episodes, join our community of Parents in Tech or drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech podcast with me, your host, Qin En. We hope you were inspired on how to raise kids and build companies. To catch up on earlier episodes or stay updated with upcoming ones, head over to www. to join our community of parents in tech. There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion. See you next time!
Qin En 00:07
I am Qin En and this is the Parents in Tech Podcast. Welcome to Season Two, where we
interview dads who are technology company leaders, based in Southeast Asia. After hearing
from moms in Season One, now it's time to speak to dads who are raising kids while striving in
their careers. Let's find out the stories, challenges, and advice they have for us.
In this episode, we speak to Lennard, Product Manager of Trust and Safety at Tiktok. Lennard
has more than a decade of product management experience at Yahoo, Singtel, BBC, and most
recently, GovTech. He is a strong believer in making use of analytics for strategy and design. In
his free time, Lennard spends his time gaming and scouring the internet for tidbits and the
occasional kernel of wisdom.
Lennard is a father of two sons aged 11, and a daughter aged two and a half years old.
Hey, Lennard, welcome to the Parents in Tech show. To begin with, can you tell us a bit more
about your family?
Sure. I have a family of four. Me, my wife, son, who is 11 years old, and a young daughter of 2
and a half years old.
Qin En 1:23
Nice. So how did you meet your wife?
I first met my wife. God is so long ago. About 14 to 15 years ago. We were both Product
Managers in Yahoo. We subsequently left to different companies, but eventually somewhere
along the way we got together.
Qin En 1:42
Very nice. And, when did they talk about having children, the plans for that? When did that
come into place?
So I think my case is a bit unusual. So my first kid was actually from my wife's first marriage, I
entered into a family unit, to begin with. So I think it was a bit more different. I had to spend
the first few years trying to work together with the new family unit to get the son to
acknowledge me as well. And so I do that family, but then naturally of course, once the bond
was made, it was quite a natural conversation with my wife that I think we have a second
daughter because I, myself, am an only child. I would say there's loneliness, there's some
disadvantages to being an only child. And so I think having a sibling for my son is a good thing.
Qin En 02:27
Yeah. Thanks so much for sharing that opening up about that, Lennard. Maybe can you share a
bit more about what were some of the challenges and maybe even reservations you had? I
know it's quite a while back. Probably a decade or more so, but your thoughts into entering a
So I think one of the few common notions about, about is that there's some stigma around it,
but I think it's something that is just a notion and, uh, things that I had to overcome was the
thing about what were the opinions of others?
Qin En 02:58
I think after a while you realize that the opinions don't really matter, what matters is what you
think about yourself, as well as what the funny things about you. I think that was a pretty good
time, and by spending time with my son or spending a lot of time with my son, I particularly
make a lot of effort to meet him on a daily basis, to strengthen our relationship. And pretty
soon it became a pretty strong and close bond to the point that I had to stay over at my wife's
place until the kid sleeps, then I would return home every day until we eventually got together.
I think that proves something about a family unit is like who you at least stay with and who
you spend the time with.
Qin En 03:37
I a hundred percent agree that a lot of times there's this idea that blood relations are
important, but I agree that love, family - it's about the commitment, unwavering commitment.
In your case of making that happen, out of curiosity, how old was your son when I guess, you
first met him, and what were the interactions at that point?
I mentioned that me and my wife are friends, to begin with, so I already knew my son when he
was born. When we talk about actually spending a lot of time with him, he was around the one
and a half year mark. That was when I made the choice to spend more time with them as a
family. We needed to go out as a family unit as opposed to going out with just my wife.
Qin En 04:16
Got it. Okay. That's wonderful. And you said 14 years ago, you and your wife were PMs at
Yahoo 14 years ago. The tech world was completely different from the tech world as we know
it today. So maybe let's start with product management. What was product management like
14 years ago, and what is it like today?
Sure. I think I was a little lucky in a sense that I got into Yahoo because it was one of the, I
guess you can say, starting tech companies and product management itself was sort of a rule,
it was very foreign. So when I first joined, in fact, to be honest, I joined as a Web Programmer,
a funny Web Programmer, and this opportunity to become a Product Manager came. I say,
“Okay, yeah, why not? Let's just try this.”
It was a choice between product management and UX designer. Interestingly, they are now
two more popular roles now. So I decided that it was more of taking control of a product and
trying to grow it. I think one of the things that are a bit different from then to now is that there
are a lot more tools. There's almost structure in place, about setting roadmaps, setting KPIs,
setting metrics, trying to measure everything.
In the past, well, at least within the Asia region, it was less structured. It was more productive
my way around? And there wasn't a lot of guidance. I mean, we did have one or two UX PMs
which were teaching us to look at metrics, but there wasn't an easy-to-Google way of how to
be a PM.
Qin En 05:50
There was no tech overflow at the time I guess.
There was some CIC, but it wasn't like what we have.
Qin En 05:59
Wow. Wow. So I'm sure over the past 14 years, you're seeing a lot of the change that
contributed to the change and that's exciting. That's very interesting. Right? So Lennard maybe
share with us where you're at in your career now? What excites you? What are you looking
Sure. So I'm currently still being a PM, mostly just the web mobile applications. Previously it
was here with the open common products where I was trying to develop some products for
the citizens to improve efficiencies. But recently I felt that the company I'm going to Tiktok and
I'm going to a space that motivates and interests me.
So I'm going to the trust and safety area partially because I'm also a parent. The social media
world is a good but dangerous world. I need to make it safer, hopefully. And I hope to
contribute in that region. And I also believe that, especially like the metaverse and so, is
coming. I believe more emphasis will be focused on trust and safety for the next generation.
Qin En 06:52
Okay got it. Trust and safety. And you've talked about how the inspiration or the motivation
came from being a parent. So let's shift years back. Tell me about the relationship of
technology with your kids, especially for your son, who is 11 years old. This is when I'm sure
he's familiar with using the screens as part of home-based learning and everything. Talk to me
a bit more about that.
The kids these days are very adaptable. If you give them a smart device, any device, they will
naturally know how to use it. To the extent that my TV, unfortunately, has a touch screen and
they want to touch it. That's common, but I think we do give our kids kind of free reign in terms
of the devices they use. We do say that. Okay. You cannot do certain things. We allow you to
watch YouTube but we occasionally monitor to ensure the things that they watch and to adapt
in nature. Generally, as long as he does well with his grades, we like to play Nintendo Switch,
or we watch YouTube videos or listen to music on Spotify and whatever, but on the condition
that he still focuses on his studies. And, if his studies do ever slip, then we move some things.
Of course, when it comes to the exam, then we also remove that. But I think the interesting
thing is that once he started playing games, he got more interested in coding. We try to
develop him on that. We send him to coding classes, playgrounds on the iPad, which we like to
do. And he seems to do well more in math, I guess, partially because of all the exposure in this
coding. So I think there's some benefits to it. And exposing your kids to tech, but not too much.
Qin En 08:29
Yeah, definitely. But it sounds like so far you have adopted quite a loose, in a good way
approach where you don't restrict, you don't set very strict boundaries. And it sounds like your
son is pretty good with that. I mean, have you found situations where you have to step in and
you have to intervene?
Yeah. I mean, there are times where you over-watch, like we said, can you watch one hour?
And then we call them like, Hey, why are you still on the iPad? I'm just supposed to, by like
nine we'll sleep tomorrow morning. And so then we should also do a short postman, like for
the rest of the week. Hopefully you remember it. Yeah. Most of the time he does for a while.
And then he forgets as kids do. And then you just reinforce it as long as it doesn't affect him
Qin En 09:09
Got it. And I guess, are you applying the same principle to your daughter? Cause two and a
half is also when she started to develop a vocabulary, a language and starting to figure out
what screens are and how attractive they can be.
Unfortunately, she is slightly addicted to it. I mean that she watches it during meal times and
that's when she gets to watch it, or especially in this way or home environment where me and
my wife have to work and have to do these meetings and she was crying her lungs out. There
you go, okay, here's the phone. Hopefully this keeps you quiet so that we get everything
finished. But we do realize that in a sense for, and also to say that the YouTube quality of
videos or the videos in all the apps in general from say eight years ago to now is vastly
different. She has actually picked up a lot of words of social norms from the video. You need to
take a dump in the toilet. And she knows, she knows that she has to go sit there. She can do
the actual emotions, although she doesn't actually poop. And she learns that from the video.
Interesting to know that you already learn a lot of stuff from our social norms, especially in this
day and age, where a lot of kids are on the video.
Qin En 10:22
Wow. This sounds like there's some utility to the entertainment over there.
Yeah. I hope from there, we try to restrict the kinds of videos as well. The more beneficial for
Qin En 10:32
So Lennard, your daughter, she's at home now, does she go to, I guess it's not infant care, but
childcare playgroup? What do you think about that?
We initially sent her there for a while, but unfortunately she keeps getting sick, and we are
working from home, and it was difficult to manage it. So we have stopped sending her for the
last three to four months. We are hoping that once she hits three, her immunity builds up and
then we will try to send them back to nursery one.
Qin En 10:57
Got it. But then who takes care of her now? Given that both, I guess you and your wife have
work from home.
Thankfully in the Singapore context, the mothers are available. So my mother is taking care of
Qin En 11:13
Did you guys have domestic help?
Yes, we do. I mean, we had a few times where we didn't.
Qin En 11:18
What was that like?
Very easy. A lot of household chores to do. A lot of cleaning to be done? So I try to do most of
the household chores where I can, you know, the day before they start somewhere between
lunchtime. But I think we found that the time effort trade off was worthwhile. And so we
decided, okay, now that restrictions are more loose we got a new helper.
Qin En 11:39
Nice. That's great. I mean, I, myself also am seeing the benefit of one. So also in the process of
getting one. Hopefully, we're covered soon to get that help. Got it. So Lennard, let's dial back.
Say two and a half years back, right. When your daughter came into this world. Tell me about
the day that she was born. What was it like? What were the emotions? Just bring us back to
I recall it was on the operating table, my wife was having a C-section, so I just stood there
waiting, then suddenly there was a crying baby, and there beside me. I guess it's a magical
moment again, alone or seeking to have a new member of the family. I was happy. I had, I
guess the main concern was my wife. How was she doing? How are you feeling? Oh yeah. I
can't feel anything because of the anesthesia, anesthetics and okay, cool. How's the baby? The
baby is good, I took a video, and then you have to figure out what's next.
Qin En 12:32
Yes. Exactly. So what were the thoughts of what's next? I, cause I also remember the baby is
so fragile. It's such a wonderful moment but it's also such a confusing moment.
So what was it like whether even a hospital going back home the first few days, the first few
weeks, was tough?
I think it was not that tough on me. It was more tough on my wife. I mean, the hospital was so
far from my apartment. But I think a lot of things came to my mind about the logistics of having
a new family member unfortunately. So I guess once that magical moment passes and this
thing is the practical moment of life, what am I going to do? So I had to send my kids to school
daily. So I had to go away to tell my mother-in-law that the cage was hugging him and saying,
what time is it? Let's do it for one day. You're going to sleep in with my mother-in-law because
your school is near, there were two there and so on and then just shuttling back and forth to
whatever my wife needs me. My wife needs a device, a new set of clothes, a charger, or
whatever I run back home, then go ahead and stay with my wife. And that was like for the first
two, two days, she got discharged by the fourth day. And then it was a matter of time to come
back home. That has everything that the baby needs. I think a disadvantage is that the gap was
so huge that to restart everything and that everything that you had, you'd be like cutting
everything away and everything.
Qin En 14:01
It's really true to get it all off because the mum is recovering, but perhaps what there's one or
two things that you felt was most helpful in supporting your wife postpartum?
Just ensuring that all the logistics is done so she doesn't need to worry about it. That's number
one. And number two, at least in my case, I showed that life goes on for the rest of the family
members, especially my son, so that she doesn't worry for my son and what she'll do is just sit
down and rest.
Qin En 14:31
Yep. Got it. I think that's so true. Just helping her to take her mind off all the hundred and one
things that need to get done, but at the same time, so that she can just be present and really
focused on taking care of the newborn. So I guess going through that. Two and a half. And I
guess also, even for your eldest son, 11 years, what's one of the most surprising things about
being a dad in tech that you didn't expect?
I would say patience has grown tremendously. Ah, okay. Yeah. We have a kid and the kid often
brings out the worst in you and you are able to continue. Realize that there's bigger things in
life that sometimes these may not be the angle. What angle can you be focused on? I think
that was one of the big things that I took away from being a lot more prominent, patient and
learning, learning to let go in terms of problems.
Qin En 15:24
So you've got to tell us a story. Maybe it can be a recent one. It can be a more distant one. But
tell me about a time when your kids made you so frustrated, so angry and how you went about
So I think I mentioned that my kid occasionally is I mean they are young, they think a lot. And
when you think about that in your own world, and you don't call them and they don't respond
multiple times in the morning, because we take a school bus and if a school bus, if you miss it a
school bus, I have to send him to school. And there's no fun for me because the entire journey
is about 30, 40 minutes. Okay. Come on, come on, change faster. Come on. Wear your shoes.
And so then after a while, I realize that it's for him and not for me.
So after I taught him life lessons, you know, what I'm doing? Is it for me or for you? It's for me.
Okay. You know that it's for you, if you miss a bus and get late to school, is it for me or for you?
This is for me. So can you be more on time? And he started to be more attentive. I will say this
in the morning.
Qin En 16:32
Well, I guess the farewell part is completely understandable. They are kids and I guess this
repetition is necessary. But I think the part that I really like, it's you asking the question? It's not
like you're imposing on it because that can sometimes just be the natural reflect section, but
helping him to think and rationalize it. That's so interesting. So on that topic, parenting advice,
parenting tips, do you get your source from anywhere or are you more like I'll figure it and kind
of figure it out myself?
I think it's more of the second I've had to figure it out, or I'll try to figure it out with my wife and
we discuss how we're going to take on things. How do we think to help change some habits
and so on? Unconditionally through just life lessons. A lot of stuff is like life lessons, like I
wouldn't say a lot. Most of the time we think of kids as kids, but kids are just young adults. And
once they reach a certain age, five or six and they can understand. We can start rationalizing
things with them so it works better. And it's the same thing, like rationalizing what an adult it's
just, and I realized that if you can explain something simply to the kid of what we're doing, I'll
try to do things to him. I'm also learning how to simplify my communication styles through the
rest of the people in work too.
Qin En 17:08
Sure. The benefits of being a parent transfer to the workplace, making things clear, making
sure there's no ambiguity. That's so nice. Well, since you also mentioned discussing things
with your wife, could you perhaps share a time when you realized that both of you had
different parenting styles? What was the difference and how did you go about resolving it?
I see. So I guess for me, when I grow up, I have more freedom. So my mom will let me just do
whatever I want and go wherever I want. So I believe in a higher level of independence there.
If you want to go and get something, just take the money and go and buy that. But you don't
need me to go with you. You don't need to go to the toilet and so on.
And my wife has a bit of the opposite where it's more protected. So she wants to ensure that
the dangers of the world will not harm the kid. For example, because he knows that he's often
imagining an hour in his own world that crossing the street will be more dangerous or going to
certain places by himself.
He'll not realize that the environment would be more dangerous. So you will want an adult or
accompany my son, sometimes we disagree on things. So I think we try to give and take and
we see. If it's like crossing the road. Sure. Okay. I will let him try the cost and then I will nudge
him if he doesn't want to walk but if it's something like we're gonna buy food from the store.
Like no, no. We need to buy from the store. Like for example, I bought a recently because my
kid has to go to take the school bus at 5:30 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning.
Qin En 19:16
So my wife was saying that in the future, how about we just get someone to protect him
always. I'm like, no, he can go down by himself now. Let's continue it so that he doesn't move
backward. You need to give him the trust that you tell him that, you know, don't go and leave
with strangers. I would still go and bring him down, but I let him ride the bus on his own. I
think he compromised in the end.
Qin En 19:57
Exactly. I like the part about how conscious you are about building character to the small
things. The small act like walking out of the house, going to the bus. Sometimes we as adults
take for granted that it's almost like a non-event, but I think things like these and making,
being intentional about it to show that you trust your son, I think that's wonderful.
So I think it was something recent that I also thought about. I think it adds onto that point
where I think every smaller action sort of builds up character independence. So I passed him an
umbrella and we actually had to use the umbrella. I think it was like, I don't know how to open
an umbrella. Have you not opened an umbrella? He said, yeah. Okay, that's how you open an
umbrella now. Open it yourself.
Qin En 20:53
Thanks for sharing. That is just, I mean, I feel it's so magical. It's such a small thing that once
again, it just goes down to things that we sometimes assume. You also mentioned how early
your son has to wake to catch the school bus. What does your weekday schedule look like?
6:00 AM. And it sounds like you have to wake up, get him ready. Tell me a bit more about how
a typical day of your life looks like.
Sure. So typically I'll wake up around 5:30.
Qin En 21:22
I usually wake up earlier because I want to use the bathroom first before he uses the
bathroom? So I wouldn't wake him up. You will be changing. I would just ensure that the lunch
boxes are packed and.. Well, I do have a helper. I used to choose to do that because I think
these are the small things that I can do for my kid and this stuff in the morning. I choose to
spend it with my kids because the rest of the day, I may not have the time to spend, or at least
in the afternoon I'm spent.
Qin En 21:47
And then I sent him down for the school bus. Typically by the time I'm back up in a, for me, it
would be about 6:50. So one hour has passed. I try to go back to sleep at times if I can. Else, I
typically wake up around 7:45 to 8:00. And that's when my younger daughter wakes up and
wants to drink milk, I'll be the one to make the milk. Then from there, when we have to go back
to the office, then typically we just change and leave for the office. Otherwise, when I'm
looking more home, it will be going out with my wife and sometimes being my daughter alone.
That's all the benefits of working from home. You get to spend more time with your family. I
guess it's a good trade off and then I start work. And then I try to end the day off. In between
of course is lunch and, uh, me and my wife tried to make time to go out for lunch, just because I
think it's rare that we get a chance to spend so much time together. And thankfully you don't
annoy each other either, so we enjoy the company, but then the day ends around 5:00 or 6:00.
Try to do exercise, have dinner, bring the kids out free to just go. Maybe, the typical coffee
places like postbox, and it's really just to spend time as a family, have a chat with the son to
see what his day is like. For the daughter to just munch on something. I guess you can say that
I'll go back and we'll try to put the kids to sleep by 9:30 to 10:00, sometimes 10:30. And then
we do sleep procrastination, where we start the devices, knowing that we should be sleeping
because we don't have eight hours of sleep. The cycle finishes and repeats itself for the
Qin En 23:24
Got it. Well, not too bad. So at least you get about six hours of sleep. Not that I do seven to
eight, but I guess nothing like a good way to wind down Netflix or other devices. Thanks for
sharing that. And I think one thing that I really appreciate it's you make a good effort to make
breakfast. It's such a small thing. Once again, it's something you can easily outsource, but even
that I'm just encouraged and it almost serves as a reminder that it's the small things that you
create, the moments and you create what's special between you and your children. I would
definitely consider doing that. Got it. Well, Lennard maybe tell me a bit more about the biggest
challenge that you face right now as say as a dad in tech, right? On one hand, you have your
career ambitions. On the other hand, you have a family that you're building. What is perhaps
one of the biggest challenges that you have?
I think interestingly enough, the challenge that I had, it's no longer really a challenge. Okay. So
maybe I stay here, then we'll get there. Right? So as you progress in your career, you will
probably want to hit higher, maybe a PM or a chief officer, and then you juggle more
responsibilities and then you can further target the possibilities at work as well as at home. So
I felt that, you know, Hey, product management is one of the few rare jobs where you can still
be an individual contributor at a very high level. For me, I decided that the whole family
commitment is important enough that I think that it's heading towards a more managerial role.
I think it was more of an individual contributor role and into an area that I like more. So I think
that trade-off, or that challenge I used to have, we saw lessons, especially with us coming on
the second kid, I guess, kids make you feel different. Absolutely. Yeah. And you will get a word
for it. And I think I've come to the stage where me and my wife are more focused on things like,
what can we do to get to a stage where we are comfortable and okay with where we are
career-wise, be able to devote enough time for the family and also the buildup family in terms
of. spending time with them, building up assets, and building up for retirement. Yeah. So it
sounds like that was like a period of journey or self-realization where you started to figure out
what your career ambitions are and how they fit that with the new valve feelings of being a
parent, especially with your second child, which means more responsibility, but it's nice to get
Qin En 26:03
Also found a balance and I've seen a path where you feel like you don't have to give up your
career ambitions or you don't have to sacrifice your family. But you're able to achieve both On
that note, for dads who are younger parents in tech, who are thinking about doing the same,
what kind of advice would you have for them?
I think most of us do things like, what do you want in your career? And I think one of the things
that I personally felt was important was learning as well as being challenged. So if you look at
my history, I just jumped in various different industries who learned about different stuff. And I
think what helped me transition there was also. If you know what you want or would like to be
challenged. I like to try a lot more stuff. Does that match up to where you want to go? So if I
look at going to a manager position, People manager and so on, you may not meet me there.
And I think that, I guess it was a light bulb and said, okay, maybe I'll go down the individual
contributor role, adding that role also gives me more bandwidth to spend time with my family.
I think knowing what you want and what you want in life in general, it's a good thing to know.
Interesting conversation from a Product Specialist recently. So, he asked me, how can I be a
better Product Specialist? So I asked him, “Do you want to be a Product Specialist in five years
or 10 years?” Say no. “So then, where do you want to go?” And where do you want to be?
Hopefully, I can be a Product Manager one day, because that's where I want to be. Nice. Okay,
cool. Be a Product Manager. Do you want to be a Product Manager in 15 to 20 years time?
Said no. I said, "Then what do you want to be?" I don't know. Maybe not working. Then that's
your end goal while you are working towards being a better Product Specialist, being a better
Product Manager just remember the end goal is that you would like to not work. Then you
might start playing now. Like how do you want to get to that? And if in-between choices will
lead you to there.
Qin En 26:40
That's so fascinating. It's almost like an onion. So often we only go through one or two layers,
but I think what you did was just really getting to the core of it. What do you truly, truly want?
And then working backward from there?
Oh, I guess in a way being a Product Manager helps because you're trying to find what's the
root of the problem to solve that part again.
Qin En 28:14
That's wonderful, that whole cross of that skills and capabilities. So let us wrap our
conversation for today. If there's one lesson you have learned as a parent in tech, what would
Tech is very fast evolving. Kids are also very fast evolving. You have that in tech, you have to
adapt to new changes in frameworks, in skill sets, in how you do it. Same for kids. Like every
stage of your life, every stage of their life. They have different problems and different skills and
need to teach them different policies. Everybody will have some imposter syndrome. You
know, just don't worry about it. Just power through it.
Qin En 29:02
The imposter syndrome is real, but let's dare to own it and power through it. So if our listeners
would love to connect with you, Lennard, how can we best do so?
They can connect with me on LinkedIn, I think they can search for me, Lennard Lim, there are
very few in there.
Qin En 29:18
Got it. And we will include your LinkedIn profile in the show notes as well. Thank you so much
for joining us on Parents in Tech today. It's such a joy to talk to you.
Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech podcast with me, your host Qin En. We hope you
were inspired on how to raise kids and built companies to catch up on earlier episodes or stay
updated with upcoming ones. Head over to www dot parents dot fm to join our community of
parents in tech. There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion once
again, the website it's www.parents.fm.
That's all for this episode, folks. See you next time.