By Catherine Yang, Customer Retention Manager, Greater China
Keep learning, keep exercising, and keep reading. This is my advice to women who are just beginning their careers in the information technology industry.
I was born in Chengdu, which most people recognize for its giant panda research facility. I think I am also part of the first generation to begin using computers in China in the 1980s. My father, an engineer, even let me play games on his Apple computer, which I still remember was a shooting game.
The IT industry has experienced more tremendous, rapid change than any other in modern times. Just consider how many IT companies in the last few decades have come and gone. If nothing else, the lesson we should draw from this fact is that if you want to work in this industry alongside dynamic and creative people, it’s vital that you keep learning and don’t become complacent. The industry is constantly evolving, and to remain successful, you must continue evolving with it.
This learning may take place in formal school training programs or on the job. Personally, I began my career journey in IT with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. But soon after I began my career, I realized that I needed to be closer to the customer to get a real taste of the business. This made me pursue a Master of Business Administration degree, which expanded my knowledge and experience. It’s like a game of chess. You are not a chessman who only plays a particular role. It would be better if you understand the strategy as the chess player. Possessing market and business knowledge empowered me to have business insight. What I needed to do next was to learn on the job and accumulate experience.
On the job, my “teachers” are my colleagues and managers. I still appreciate my first manager in IT. His pursuit of excellence and commitment to constantly raising the bar earned him the distinction of becoming the youngest manager at the company. His focus, drive, and empathy for others impressed me deeply, and I believe these characteristics are what made him outstanding and successful.
It may seem unrelated, but I urge all women to keep exercising, not only keep you fit, but also because it makes you more energetic and vigorous. All the successful women I know in this industry take care of their bodies and minds because it gives them the energy to face the challenges of this industry, including rigorous negotiations or the occasional late night, as well as maintain a healthy work-life balance.
One of my ex-colleagues, a sales director at a top security company, participates in marathons all over the country. Another, who is very elegant in aerial yoga, is an excellent product manager at a top SaaS company. I am a national third-level athlete and have been training in swimming since I was six years old. Even now, despite my busy schedule, I continue to exercise, playing badminton every week and going to the gym regularly. Healthy and positive living not only gives us a fuller, longer life, but it benefits our careers as well.
An interesting soul is one in a million, which is why I always advise future IT professionals to keep reading. It will give you the ability to think independently. The answers and conclusions it will provide are important, but the intellectual processes that lead to them are even more important. Reading can expand your mind and force its growth, helping you to more efficiently identify problems and develop the methodology for solving them. I generally like to read history, politics, and biographies, but any reading will provide you with a growth mindset, which will improve your mind and benefit your career. Diversifying your reading list will give you the ability to look at the problem more holistically, which enables you to mitigate the risks, seize the opportunities, and foresee the future.
I face new challenges and opportunities everyday, especially since I have been appointed renewal manager of Greater China. It is a new role in the organization, one for which I am grateful, as it offers me the opportunity to lead the team to achieve higher goals. Timely and appropriate rewards are the tradition of the IT industry, but if we were to stop pushing when we accomplish our goals, we would not remain successful for long. We will always be setting new goals and reaching to achieve new heights. As long as I keep learning, exercising, and reading, I will not be afraid of any challenges and difficulties ahead.
I am very happy to have you join our team and grow with us.