You’ve achieved a great deal of professional success – briefly describe your journey, noting both personal milestones and obstacles you may have faced along the way.
As a first-generation college graduate and a son of Chinese immigrants, I had to overcome many obstacles, such as language and culture barriers. However, with the guidance and support from my altruistic and talented mentors, I was able to overcome them. One of my most memorable milestones was graduating from college with a full-time job lined up at Citigroup, Inc. I have dedicated my entire career to Citigroup and the experience has been a fruitful one, but obviously not without its challenges. Starting out as an analyst, I had to learn how to maneuver the corporate world, remain focused on developing the skills required for my job, and actively seek programs, mentors, and sponsors. Over the last few years, I focused on collaborating with my team, committing to my clients, and meeting my yearly goals. This experience lead to some of my most memorable achievements, such as receiving my highest performance rating and the CEO Award for Excellence. I believe that the biggest challenges are always the most rewarding. The key themes I’ve learned from my journey are to always think outside of the box, have a plan but be flexible, know yourself and your strengths (just make sure your weaknesses do not hinder you) and be willing to take calculated risks!
What inspires you? How does that inspiration play into your professional life?
People from all walks of life truly inspire me every, single day. My colleagues, clients, mentors, mentees, and others help me appreciate diversity. Traveling to numerous countries and interacting with locals has helped me comprehend, respect and value different cultures and perspectives. This world is becoming flat and having the skills and instincts to relate to global citizens is imperative. I enjoy bringing that mindset to all that I do especially when helping my clients accomplish their goals.
Briefly, describe a transformative moment that helped to shift your approach to your career.
I am grateful to my numerous wonderful mentors, who have made a positive impact in my life and inspired my passion for education, the non-profit sector, helping the community and empowering students and young professionals. The moment that transformed my career trajectory was over lunch with one of my mentors. She explained that while it is fantastic and selfless that I am interested in affecting change through the non-profit sector, it is equally or more important to be impactful by having a successful career. She added, “Not only will you be able to give back through service, but you can also donate funds to aid your causes and passions.” This was my “aha” moment and since that lunch, I have a laser focus on working intelligently and diligently in building my career while managing my time efficiently so that I can continue to volunteer, donate, and fulfill my civic duties. I am proud to share that I have received three President’s Volunteer Service Awards, which recognize individuals who made an impact by bettering our communities and our world and who inspire others to answer the call to service.
What has been the most valuable professional advice and or lesson you've received?
The most valuable professional advice I’ve ever received is to “always ask” because if you don’t ask, you won’t get it. The worst response you will receive is “no,” after which - you can move on without any regrets. This obviously is easier said than done. I still remember the first time I asked my client for more business, and the client respectfully declined. I asked a second time stating a few reasons why I deserve more wallet shares and the value I can bring to them. The client responded, “let’s touch base in a few weeks.” After a few more follow ups, the client gave me more business! So, “always ask!” Asking, combined with giving, is the best policy. And remember that best things do not come easy. You must work for it.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most? Why?
Authentic leaders, who lead by example and listen, are truly admirable. They are good and genuine. They consciously focus on inspiring their peers and developing themselves. They promote feedback, like to be challenged, and are on a mission to build the best and most diverse teams.
What initially drew you to join CUP and what impact has CUP had on your professional life? Any specific examples/stories?
CUP’s mission to connect, empower and mobilize the next generation of diverse business and civic leaders caught my attention. The CUP Fellows program has been a transformative experience that has helped be understand myself better, determine my leadership style, and be more thoughtful. CUP has brought together an amazing, diverse, and distinguished group of leaders who are enthusiastic about civic engagement. It was a pleasure to have developed lifelong friendships with them.