SC ALPP: Experiences from Ascend Executive Insight Series
Friday, June 14, 2013
Posted by: Mitchell Sam
This past May, nine members of the Asian Leadership Pipeline Program attended the two day Ascend Executive Insight Seminar (EIS) in Milpitas, CA. This program covered critical skills in: Corporate Culture, Personal Brand, Managing Up, Power & Influence, Taking Risks, Selling & Client Relationships.
There were only limited slots available to this external event, so we wanted to share with the broader Asian Leadership community highlights of our experiences and learning.
Reasons for signing up
We all came from different backgrounds, but all opted into the ALPP program because we wanted to further our careers. We were all successful up to this point in our careers, but knew there were skills we needed to develop to be true leaders.
Kris Chou, Engineering Manager:
I’ve been involved with the Asian Leadership Forum at Intel Santa Clara since its inception over 3 years ago. It has been a continuous learning process for me to understand the non-technical skills and relationship that are needed in upper management. My goal in all this was to close these awareness gaps and be able to add to my contributions.
Wendy Liu, Verification Architect:
I want to be one of those people who want to make a big impact in everything I do, but don’t always know how to. Coming from the traditional Chinese culture, I have a difficult time being the extrovert, great at selling ideas. I took the Ascend class wanting to see how Asians are able to deal with these issues and how to be more effective in developing business relationships.
Having high expectations going into the seminar, we were impressed and honored that so many established VPs and Sr. VPs took time out of their schedules to share their experiences and insights. They spoke about the unspoken cultural lessons/taboos ingrained in all of us. It was a relief to hear that others felt the same way. We also really appreciated the openness of the discussions and definitely learned a lot from their experiences.
The presenters were typical Asians who have had success in their careers. Their stories of their successes and failures really hit home. I often thought to myself, "This is similar to the situation I recently had, now I know how I should have dealt with it”. The insights from the executives are invaluable.
What we learned
We each took something different and valuable away from the seminar. But a consistent theme was that change takes effort. You won’t see improvement in your skills without dedicating time and effort practicing and growing the skill.
LeeMin Chong, Supply Chain Project Manager:
One thing that stood out for me was to have a 30-sec elevator pitch prepared about what I do and how it impacts the business. This way you don’t have to worry about coming up with something to say to a new person you meet, you are ready to use it to when the opportunity arises.
Eddie Wang, Design Manager:
For me, I tend to hold back my opinions in meetings; I only want speak when I have "the perfect answer.” The same hesitancy occurs when making decisions where this is no black/white answer and risk is involved. EIS helped me realize that a lot of opportunities are lost this way. In a fast moving industry, "learning on the job” is often required; we can’t always expect to have the luxury of "studying hard the day before” to ace the test. Leaders are expected to react fast and make quick decisions.
Abhay Kanhere, Software Architect/Software Lead:
I learnt the importance of cultivating genuine professional and personal relationships, to push myself outside my comfort zones to grow as a leader. The Practical Role modeling sessions were useful in developing and practicing these skills. It was also beneficial because I made connections with peers who were also focused on growing and improving personally as we take on higher leadership challenges.
What we have applied from our learning and/or how it has changed our behavior.
After EIS, we decided to meet periodically to share our experiences and progress and to support each other in our quest. This new cross-company network will help us learn and grow in these areas. Within Intel, we meet periodically to exchange ideas, discuss our experiences and our progress. We are also learning how to be good mentors and sponsors to the Asian community at Intel. We are helping our community learn from our experiences.
Networking is a weak spot for me, but EIS showed me we shared many values and interests. This emboldened me to explore career growth opportunities in new areas. After EIS, I found a rotation opportunity by talking to an ex-manager who’s now in a different group. It worked out great because he needs an experienced project manager and I get to learn about a new business.
I continue working on relationship building. I’ve setup regular 1:1s with my 2nd level manager and up, as well as their peers to communicate my skills/interests and understand their needs. I’ve also continued to try to give back and help the next generation by holding 1:1 mentoring sessions with junior engineers.
After past 2+ years of intensive heads-down execution, EIS reinvigorated my career path. I learnt to be vocal about my work, to network and communicate my team’s collective accomplishments. Communicating our accomplishments is just as important as achievements.
I have a couple first line managers reporting to me who have similar backgrounds to mine. In my 1:1’s with them, I have begun sharing and discussing specific learning I have since picked up from events like EIS. Hopefully they can avoid some of common pitfalls/mistakes.
Xiaoning Qi, Senior Tech Lead:
I have been mentoring/speaking at Intel’s PND (Professional Networking Day) for the last 3yrs and have been a mentor as part of the Leadership Pipeline series. Through these events, I’ve established several long term relationships with junior engineers and have hopefully provided them some assistance in their careers. I’ve gained and grown a lot via the opportunities I’ve been given and feel strongly that I should give back to the next generation.
We appreciate the opportunity to meet and learn from these external peers and mentors. EIS helped us grow skills to succeed in our careers. All of us have gone through situations where we just didn’t know how to best respond. This class armed us with new skills to better tackle these situations. The classes opened our eyes about what’s required to grow and succeed in Corporate America.
The Executives provided invaluable insight to relationship building, being in the spotlight and demonstrating how our cultural characteristics can hold us back. We are proud and aware of our cultural strengths but must incorporate new skills to be more Effective and Successful.
Change is hard, and we have a long road ahead to incorporate new habits into our daily life. We are glad we attended Ascend EIS, it will be invaluable to our future progress.