Throughout my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have amazing people who saw the best version of me and helped me realize that version of me through many ups and downs.
Recently, I had a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come and thought about the ones who played a big part in my evolution. I never had a specific goal to build a list of mentors. I didn’t explicitly ask them to be my mentor, and they didn’t come as a mentor to help me. Looking back at the past 20+ years, it is clear to me now how much they meant to me in my growth.
When I just started my career, I was busy just learning technical skills (coding, Unix, system administrations, database). Naturally, people I leaned on were those who guided me, showed me things and coached me in those areas. They gave me knowledge and confidence. They were great friends who gave me the firm foundation for my career. Their friendship gave me the importance of a strong technical foundation but also the importance of good coaching.
As I got into lead/manager type positions in consulting oriented world, people I learned from were responsible for project delivery and client communication. I learned how to manage projects for on-time delivery and how to communicate with clients of the project status, risks, and challenges. I developed a stronger sense of accountability and communication.
Then I started moving into leadership positions, managing managers as well as individual contributors. This process made me very vulnerable and insecure as I had to learn how to step outside of the technical domain and focus on the people aspect of it. It meant that I had to learn how to share my sense of accountability and technical know-how with others who may or may not share the same view. This phase taught me how to trust them but verify them when I need to. I struggled with it many times, but I had the fortune to have great mentors and friends who would help me overcome my shortcomings and stretch myself, including Rajiv Pant, Deputy CTO of NewsCorp, Brian Murphy, CTO of SeatGeek. I learned that trying to be in control of the uncertainties made things worse, and embracing the uncertainties made me stronger. I learned that I could somehow find a solution, and I developed grit while doing it.
In my last position at WorkMarket, I had an amazing fortune to be an understudy of Jim Chou, formerly CTO of WorkMarket and currently a CTO of Splice, who guided me through the highs and lows how to become not only a technology leader but also business partner. Jeff Wald, the co-founder of WorkMarket, opened up my eyes to understand how the business world works and gave me an infinite amount of support, guidance, and trust. I was incredibly fortunate to have so many others around me, including my team, and I was able to see the growth in me through the lenses of others’ growth. Just a little bit, I started to understand that my growth could come from the growth of others, and I learned that that was what Jim and Jeff were seeing through me as well.
What I realize more and more is that every step of the way, there were these amazing people who walked right beside me and pulled me in the right direction. Without any of them, I couldn’t have been there, and I am very grateful to have them as my mentors. Writing this made me reach out to those I haven’t reached out in a long while. I even got to reach out to one of my professors in college.
I plan to strengthen my relationship with the mentors in my next chapter. I also look forward to meeting new ones in the future either as mentors or mentees. I would encourage everyone to take a moment and think about those who were there for you.