Voices of Airwallex: Olivia Tang

3 minutes
Voices of Airwallex: Olivia Tang
Featuring Olivia Tang, Senior product manager by day, record-breaking freediver by night. Find out what drives Olivia’s success.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Olivia. What do you do at Airwallex?

I am a product manager on the GTPN team based in Shanghai. As Senior Product Manager, I look after the end-to-end customer experience of making cross-border payments. 

What attracted you to Airwallex and what do you enjoy the most about working here?

After graduating from Georgia Tech, I worked at a Fortune 100 company for about two and half and had always felt that something was missing. I wanted to be at a place where I could make a visible impact, and that’s when I started looking into start-ups, aiming to take my career in a different direction. 

When I came across Airwallex in 2019, which had just clinched its unicorn status then, I was drawn to the “all hands on deck” mentality and was very excited to be able to wear many different hats to get things done. Exactly what I was looking for.

Three and a half years later, I am still enjoying every minute of it. There’s never a dull day here at this company; there are many exciting initiatives going on at all times. The rocketship experience here allowed me to grow exponentially. 

The people in this company are what makes it extra special. I'm surrounded by passionate team members that come from diverse backgrounds and are very capable at what they do. They’ve also been cheering me on in my freediving competitions which is so heartwarming to see!

Olivia’s colleagues at Airwallex China cheering her on 

Congratulations on representing China at the recent Freediving World Championships in Kuwait and shattering the Chinese National Record in the dynamic no fins category. What inspired you to get into freediving?

Being able to represent China in the CMAS Freediving World Championships held in Kuwait has truly been an honour. Breaking the Chinese National Record in Dynamic No Fins for the first time has been a remarkable achievement for me.

My journey into freediving started with my love for the ocean and my curiosity about what lies beneath its surface. From a young age, I was captivated by the depth and vastness of the sea and it inspired me to explore it in the most natural way possible — freediving. 

The sense of tranquility and peacefulness that l always experience while diving, along with the challenge of pushing my own physical and mental boundaries, drove my passion even further. 

I was also inspired by the stories of legendary freedivers such as Natalia Molchanova, who demonstrated that the human body is capable of extraordinary feats when we learn to work with the environment. Their stories made me want to explore my own potential.

Olivia getting ready at the Freediving World Championships in Kuwait

We hear that you only started the sport less than a year ago and are already breaking national records. What are the three key drivers behind your success?

  1. Practice makes perfect through a rigorous and structured training regimen. I have been dedicated to learning and perfecting the skills needed for freediving. This involved not just physical training, but also mental and psychological preparation. 

  2. Discipline and commitment have been fundamental in achieving these results. Freediving is a sport that requires a high degree of self-control, patience, and mental strength. I’ve made sacrifices and stayed committed to my training schedule, even when it was competing with other priorities in life. Between Airwallex and freediving, I have little time to sleep!

  3. Support from my coaches, family, and the freediving community has been instrumental. Their belief in my potential, their constant encouragement, and their invaluable advice have given me the confidence to push my limits and perform my best. Their contributions have helped me to fast-track progress in the sport and achieve my goals quicker than I had anticipated.

Have you experienced any setbacks and how did you overcome them?

One of the most significant setbacks l experienced was dealing with the mental aspect of freediving — fear, and panic that sometimes come with pushing my limits. It's a natural instinct to want to resurface when you’ve gone 150 meters or beyond underwater in a single breath. 

To overcome the fear, I chose to actively work on my mental strength, incorporating meditation and visualization exercises into my training routine, and over time, I turned the fear into a strength.

This has taught me a valuable lesson: there's always a better way if you're willing to seek it. It's this mindset that's enabled my rapid progress in the sport of freediving. It's not just about jumping over these hurdles, but also about constantly striving for improvement and innovation in the way I approach those challenges.

These principles I apply in freediving are universal and can also be applied at Airwallex. Whether it's in the water or in the world of fintech, success comes from a relentless pursuit of excellence, a willingness to challenge the status quo, and the resilience to overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

What is next for you?

I’ve just returned from Jeju island for the 30th AIDA freediving world championships where I competed in three dynamic apnea disciplines and one static apnea discipline (and broke two more Chinese national records!). And hopefully, later in the summer, I will get a chance to visit the beautiful Bohol island in the Philippines and get some depth training under my belt.

Olivia breaking more national records at the recent AIDA freediving world championships in Jeju island

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