What were your early years like?
I grew up in a traditional Chinese household in Vancouver, Canada, which is where my parents immigrated after leaving postwar Vietnam in the late 1970s. From a young age, I had a fairly active lifestyle, playing multiple sports and competing in dragon boat racing. And back then, I thought I’d become a doctor or a banker, interests that I actively pursued throughout my high school and early college years.
What drew you to Strategy&?
After I graduated from college in British Columbia, I took a role in marketing and brand management at Newell Rubbermaid. I enjoyed my time there and stayed with the company for about five years; the job moved me from Vancouver to Toronto and then to Chicago. Then I decided to get my MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and that’s where I first discovered consulting. After graduating, I accepted an offer to work in the consumer, media, and digital practice at Strategy&, based in Cleveland. I’ve always been a huge tech junkie, and I had experience working in the consumer goods space, so I thought it was a great marriage of my experiences and passions.
How and why did you move to the digital team in San Francisco?
I was engaged on a big project to guide an education company through its digital transformation, and around that same time, Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) acquired a company that became Booz Digital. I expressed my interest in joining that team as I knew I liked the work, plus I wanted to be closer to the tech scene and to my family in Vancouver. Luckily, the business was looking to hire a couple of individuals around the same time, and I was brought on to help bridge the traditional strategy business with the new digital one.
Any lasting lessons from Strategy&?
Definitely. I learned the power of bringing strategy, technology, and design together. But even more important, I’ll always be grateful to partners like Les Moeller, Steve Treppo, Akshat Dubey, Mathias Herzog, and Samrat Sharma, who made time for me. You mirror the people you’ve worked with and you’ve learned from. I learned from my mentors at Strategy& how to engage people and make them feel that they’re part of the process. At the end of the day, a decision may come down to one or two people. But for something to be successful and for you to minimize noise along the way, it’s critical to make sure that everyone feels heard. That awareness and skill has helped me throughout my career.
Tell us more about what you’re doing now at LinkedIn.
I lead the company’s monetization strategy for the talent and marketing solutions business. My team, which is composed of former consultants and venture capitalists, builds economic models for how LinkedIn monetizes new and existing products. But as a senior leader, I spend the majority of my time helping with problem solving and building consensus across cross-functional teams with disparate, interacting goals while providing transparency and understanding. Right now, I’m working on a set of programs to drive growth in emerging markets as well as developing the long-term monetization strategy for the organization.
How would you describe your own leadership style?
An executive coach recently categorized me as a “servant leader,” one who has an empathetic approach and focuses a lot of time on enabling other people’s growth and development. The ethos that I commonly tell my team to operate under is that it’s “family first.” In other words, we all individually have things to do, but we all get over the line together. The rising tide floats all boats.
How do you recharge outside the office?
I love food and traveling, and I’m a pretty avid photographer. I’ve been to more than 35 countries, most recently Portugal and Morocco with my brother for his 40th birthday.
What career advice can you offer?
Make sure you check in on yourself every 12 months. Just like a company reviews your performance on an annual basis, you should evaluate your own goals and where you are in your career. You’re at your best when you’re doing something you love, so ask yourself whether or not this is still what you want to be doing.
How would you respond to your own advice? What’s next for you?
I’m really excited about what I’m doing, particularly in terms of growth and impact, as we find more ways to make the LinkedIn platform more accessible. One of my personal passion projects is: How do we make the platform even more ubiquitous everywhere you go? We’re not just for tech-centric companies, we’re for everyone, and we want to make that message clear. More generally, LinkedIn has a very positive culture around development and improvement. For me, right now, it’s about learning and furthering myself while also trying to give back by engaging and advising a set of startups.
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