Sunday, November 1, 2009

Life Lessons in Bullet Form

I recently attended a "President Panel" event organized by the IEEE Toronto Women in Engineering and IEEE Toronto Student Branch at UofT. Two of the invited speakers were Janet Holder, president of Enbridge Gas Distribution and Shannon O'Connor, IBM Canada Business Partners. The two hours were packed with life lessons, funny stories, and insightful conversations. 

There were a couple of points that stuck with me and I'll paste them here in bullet form:
  •  Four essential career lessons:
  1.     Define happiness - what kind of career makes you happy
  2.     Be true to yourself - decisions will be easier to make when you know your value system/your list of priorities
  3.     Work smarter - no need to work 12 hours a day if you learn how to work smarter
  4.     Build your network - advance faster in your career with your network support
  • Be responsible for your own skill development. Apparently, IBM has a name for the new type of skills that technical people need: the "T-shaped" skills. Just like the T letter, you need both technical depth and broad business skills (e.g., communication, negotiation, presentation).
  • Focus on the outcome and think backwards on how to get there.
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
  • To whom much is given, much is expected.
  • Your boss is your mentor. She/He probably knows better both your weaknesses and your strengths.
  • Your values should be aligned with your company's values. Otherwise, move! Don't put yourself in a position where you're stuck!
  • When building your team, look for sharing values, but also complementary set of skills.
  • Mentors with same background/values can help you pull it through and advance in your career faster. But mentors with different views on the matter can help you see things from a different perspective. Have both kinds!
  • Understand what the metric for success is and deliver! You'll be asked to do 30 little things along the way, nobody will remember you for the little things. The metric for success is essential, so prioritize for optimizing that.
  • Innovation and creativity doesn't need to be big. Even smaller things can make a difference.
  • Ideas in itself are not worth a lot. Ideas with implementation and realization... now that's something!


  1. Nice Blog . You are 100 % correct. Esp this one "Your values should be aligned with your company's values. Otherwise, move! Don't put yourself in a position where you're stuck! "

  2. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I should make more time to blog. I've been thinking of many blog entries/topics, but didn't find/make time to write them. I take this as an encouragement to write more :)