We kicked off our new semester with our first event: “Leadership 101 Conference”. We discussed the various ways in which a leader can grow through challenges and obstacles that are placed in our way. With our panel of esteemed professionals, they discussed their own journey of leadership and what they have learned thus far.
Lori Chen: Vice President, Private Client Advisor, JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., President and Chairman of NAAAP New York
Vu Trieu: Manager, Workforce Diversity & Inclusion for Comcast, NAAAP Philadelphia President
Zilong Zhao: Actuarial Senior Analyst at Cigna, National Director of Collegiate Relations at NAAAP
Kristy Leong: Partnerships at Comcast Ventures, Vice President of NAAAP Philadelphia
What’s the difference in being a student leader and being a leader in the corporate world?
Lori: You really never know where being a leader in the corporate world can lead you, but both can lead to great opportunity. There is a huge communication style difference when you’re a leader in school and when you’re out in the field. There is also this presence of a generational gap when comparing leaders you see around you. When you’re a student, you work with people around the same age but when you work with professionals, they all vary in ages. Despite these differences, the most important thing is that you lead from the heart.
Vu: One thing that’s the same whether you’re a student or professional leader is that you are still a leader. Make sure whether you’re a student or professional that you find the right communication style and to work to earn trust within your team. Overall, make sure that you lead with sympathy and empathy.
Zilong: There’s definitely a culture shook when moving into the corporate world from being a student. The corporate world can move a bit more slowly at times and there will be roadblocks that seem larger than before. I always make sure to go to my mentor to help with anything I’m struggling with.
What were your unsubstantiated fears when you were a student?
Vu: I feared a lot of things like exams and grade, but one of my larger fears was public speaking. Since English wasn’t my first language I wasn’t very secure in my abilities to speak. I had to take English Second Language classes but as I continued to speak more and more it became more comfortable. My first job had me going door to door sales so it forced me to speak confidently. Another fear was not knowing what I wanted to do with myself during school. I went in doing pharmacy but ended up doing something completely different. Don’t be afraid of not knowing what you’re doing because it’s all part of the learning process.
Lori: I’m not afraid of many things but one thing I was fearful of was speaking English. I came to the U.S. at age 19 as a student straight from Taiwan. I didn’t take any English Second Language classes so I had to learn on my own. Now I am able to speak both English and Chinese and so I think it puts me at a great advantage from those around me.
Kristy: Something I feared was the feeling of not belonging. I was at University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences but I attended all the Wharton School of Business club meetings. I felt like I was trying to fit in somewhere I did not belong to. Eventually I received my MBA at Wharton after and realized it didn’t matter if I felt like I didn’t fit in or not.
How did you overcome a professional challenge and how did it make you a better leader?
Lori: One challenge that I had do overcome was being a minority wherever I worked. I was either the only Asian woman or I would be the youngest even though Iv’e worked for 16 years. But I realized that I needed to use these differences and turn them into advantages. Being bilingual is so vital in the professional field because I am able to speak to investors from other parts of the world such as China. My differences make me stronger.
Vu: An important thing to remember is that it is okay to fail. I built a company from 5 to 50 people and then the company didn’t work out. I had to learn how to work hard for what I wanted and how to read and relate to people quickly. Make sure to not take rejections personally and to know that it’s not a learning experience if you didn’t fail.
How do you motivate your team members and yourself when you are burned out?
Vu: Even from the beginning of my first job I had to learn to “keep it cool”. Try not to let your team see you sweat too much. Just like when looking at a duck in a pond, they seem so calm above the water, but underneath they’re trying to keep themselves afloat. Make sure that when you are feeling this way that you find someone to talk to and ask people for advice and guidance.
Lori: Always make sure to take care of yourself first. If I’m ever feeling burned out, I release the stress through healthy outlets. I make sure to exercise a lot, do meditation, and try to do things that I don’t typically do. As a leader, see what motivates your team or even family and friends and use that. It’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes but make sure at the end of the day people can look to you as a leader for them.
*Audience Question: What is your biggest goal you would like to achieve at the end of 2017?*
Lori: Personally I would love to continue working out with my professional trainer and improve physically with exercise. I would also like to improve my sleep habits since my mind is always active. Professionally, I’m always on track to want to be something more. I would like to shadow more senior VP’s and directors.
Vu: Personally, I would like to better at golf and become a great leader as NAAAP Philadelphia’s President by receiving funds and creating opportunities. Professionally, I would like to see myself recruiting diverse talents for Comcast and to get a better understanding of the full scope of talent and management.