What I Learned at the Ascend Leadership Summit

Yu Wei
Yu Wei

Yu (Jenny) Wei graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, majoring in Information and Computing Science, Mathematics. Jenny has worked for Gensuite LLC, an American software company providing digital solution for Environmental Health and Safety. In addition to working as Business Analyst, Business Development Manager, and Customer Services Manager in the company, she was promoted to Gensuite China Subsidiary General Manager in 2013 and has been leading the China team to provide services to regional customers, explore local markets and establish brand recognition. Jenny also had working or internship experience in IBM distributor, General Electrics, and HP.

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In the journey of seeking internships or jobs, we want to be motivated and inspired to build up our competencies as well as reputation. Who doesn’t want to know the secret to success? Learning from successful predecessors is often a great way to grow.

This year Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the Women’s Leadership Council brought together industry role models and students at the 6th Annual AscendNAAMBA Conference. The Leadership Summit, an hour-long panel discussion session at the end of the conference offered a great platform for students to learn valuable insights from successful business leaders and be motivated by their stories.

As a Carey student, I had the honor to sit together with three other classmates on stage, and ask questions to the four invited business leaders (panelists): Tina Hwang, SVP at PNC; Betty Lo, VP at Nielson; Young J. Bang, VP at Booz Allen Hamilton; and Thomas Liu, Managing Director at Bank of America.

I was inspired by the touching stories and wise career advice told by the panelists including the importance of emotional intelligence and effective communication, challenges of cross-cultural environment and how to overcome them, and strategies to deal with career setbacks.

One of the notes that left a deep impression on me concerns communication during business meetings. For me, I used to think if some colleague in the meeting has already expressed an idea or a suggestion that is very similar with what’s on my mind, I probably shouldn’t speak up and repeat what he/she said. However, the panelists shared a different opinion. They recommended I still speak up and describe briefly the idea, and what I can add to the point, rather than being discouraged and quiet. The fact is Asian employees tend to be shyer in public communications such as during meetings. However, it is critical to our career development that we have the capability and courage to fully express ourselves to demonstrate our active engagement and contribution.

Communication is everywhere, and you never know when and where opportunities will pop up or be cultivated. Panelists strongly encourage us to be more proactive in polite small talks, such as in campus hallways, in conferences and many other occasions. It will be more natural and effective if we can grow the skill as our own habit.

There were about 50-60 student attendees to the panel discussion and I believe all of us received valuable advice in terms of career development and competency building.

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