Possess a Growth Mindset

Wenchao Wang, Financial Analyst, Global Sales @ Google
UC Berkeley Master of Engineering, Class of 2012

This is an interesting time to look back — it’s been five years since I began graduate studies at Berkeley. With a pure Engineering background, I began my career in the Operations Rotation program at SanDisk. I joined this program to make an impact in operations design through quantitative modeling. In order to maximize growth, I focused on project and strategy positions, which gave me broad exposure to different business areas. After three years, I joined Google as a Financial Analyst to further expand my skill set. In my current job, I develop analytical frameworks for Ads revenue and optimize Sales productivity through investment planning. Throughout this journey, a few principles drove how I evaluated opportunities and made decisions. These are essential elements of a growth mindset, which I want to share.
Focus on long-term growth, rather than immediate returns. Early in your career, your future is full of both possibilities and uncertainty. The decisions you make significantly influence what you can accomplish in your overall career. Rather than compensation or title, prioritize learning early on. It will help you figure out what is right for you and give you the flexibility to shape your trajectory to the greatest extent. My career interests have evolved and shifted focus several times in the past few years. Maximizing learning helped me be prepared for these transitions.

Build transferable skills. Developing a transferable skillset was crucial for me to switch industries and functions. As technology scales at an unprecedented speed, chances are that a specialization today may evolve into something significantly different in ten years. This explains why general problem-solving and leadership skills are particularly sought after in the Tech industry. Problem-solving skills allow you to quickly adapt in a rapidly changing environment. Strong leadership helps you motivate a team to deliver results, which is crucial to accomplishing any goal. When I switched from SanDisk to Google, despite the very different types of problems that needed solving, I was able to leverage my highly transferable analytical and leadership skills to ramp up quickly and deliver initiatives very early in my tenure.

Define your priorities. You must be mindful about how you manage your resources. While it is important to be driven and hardworking, you must define your priorities and allocate time and energy to accomplish them. Slow growth due to low efficiency comes with a high opportunity cost, particularly in the early stage of your career. It is important to be able to drive multiple initiatives effectively. But it does not mean that you need to focus on everything at the same time. Have a strategy and work on the most important things. I apply this to both my career and personal life. Outside of work, I pursue projects each quarter, such as: enhancing visualization skills, organizing travel reviews, and exploring rock climbing. Properly prioritizing these personal projects has been an effective way to accomplish key personal goals.

Follow your heart. Sheryl Sandberg once said, “It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution.”Ask yourself a question: do I really care about my job? If the answer is no, never be afraid to make a change to get closer to your dream job. Passion is the most powerful catalyst to maximize growth. It may not be a smooth ride when you pivot, but it will pay off in the long-term. During my career transitions, I did not choose the easy path. I’m naturally driven to learn and achieve more precisely because I chose to align my work with my career passion.

For those who are starting their careers or considering career transitions, I hope that this advice guides you on your journey. Although my views may evolve as I continue on my own journey, I am certain that a growth mindset will always be beneficial.

This article has been taken from UC Berkeley Master of Engineering Alumni Magazine, May 2016: http://pub.lucidpress.com/alumnimagazine2016/

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