Margaret Zhang wins Outstanding Achievements of Young Alumni Award

24 October 2023
Celebrating the early-career success of our exceptional young alumna
At 27, Margaret Zhang (BCom '17, LLB '18) was youngest person to be appointed Editor-in-chief in Vogue's history. In this special Q&A, she shares her thoughts on creativity, careers and combining her love of fashion with cross-disciplinary insight. 

Margaret Zhang, Editor-in-chief, Vogue China

How do you balance working in a field that you love with a high-demand work culture?  

It’s a matter of seeing everything as a learning experience. “High-pressure” working environments are usually just made up of high volumes of interpersonal interactions and layers of consistently urgent tasks. If you’re able to break up a seemingly insurmountable mass into smaller learning opportunities, it feels more like it’s contributing to your longer-term professional growth, rather than being a face-value annoying situation.

Margaret Zhang launched her website ‘Shine by Three’ at 16 years old.

How do you maintain passion and avoid burning out?

We all need to periodically change up our surroundings to gain some perspective. While routine is important for productivity, if you start to run on autopilot, it can take the joy out of creative work. If you’re constantly being bombarded by data points, but don’t allow yourself the space to step away and contextualize the information, then you’ll just get overwhelmed. I find that exploring my personal interests in my own time and seeking out conversation with people in other fields are great palate cleansers.

How has studying commerce and law helped your transition into the business side of creativity?  

I could not do this job without my business and law degrees. Regardless of what creative discipline I’m dealing with, at the end of the day fashion and publishing are multi-trillion-dollar industries, so commerce is ever-present. People also forget that any creative project involves a range of legal considerations around third parties and intellectual property, which is only becoming more interesting as we start to see the impact of AI on creative industries. Even from a day-to-day communication standpoint, being able to ‘speak the language’ of my colleagues in legal, finance, commercial and marketing departments is such a win for efficiency and relationship building.

Margaret attended her first New York Fashion Week as a writer and photographer while still studying.

What advice would you give to young creatives who are looking to evolve their passions into a career?

Creative careers are about discovery – figuring out your strengths and what you enjoy by process of elimination; connecting with like-minded creatives to collaborate and experiment; reaching out to people you admire for advice; finding the skillset that you want to hone and develop; setting goals for the level of work you want to be producing; and being open to unexpected opportunities. Clear, distinct, honest creatives will always be rewarded in the long-run - thinking too much about commercialization or commoditization too early will push you off-track.

Congratulations to Margaret Zhang, our 2023 Outstanding Achievements of Young Alumni Award winner. Nominations for the 2024 Alumni Awards are now open. Learn more.

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