"You don’t know what you don’t know.” This phrase has been both a challenge as well as inspiration for Corina Tan when she first started her career. A challenge because being new in her role, learning and understanding the different processes have been one of her main trials. An inspiration because as she progressed in her career, she made it a point to learn as much as possible to equip herself with the necessary knowledge to excel.
She explains, “When I was a customer service agent, I found it challenging when faced with difficult customers; I wasn’t skilled at managing them. Also, not being able to comprehend the organisational processes prevented me from providing the customer with a good solution. To overcome this, I read as much as I could – books that taught me how to win over and influence people. To better understand the processes, I learnt on the job, observing and absorbing as much as I could. My seniors were my mentors – the experience and advice they shared were invaluable.”
It all worked out well for Tan in the end, who started her career in the banking industry before moving to a telco company six years later and finally, landing a job in Dell where after 19 years with the company, she now holds the position of Vice President, Global CSB Sales Operations driving profitable growth that aligns with business priorities.
Why go from banking to IT, two completely different industries altogether? It all stems from the fact that IT is assimilated into so many industries, says Tan. “The possibilities are endless. It gives you the advantage of being able to move seamlessly to any other related field; you will have ample opportunities to grow your potential and keep learning. From a business standpoint, given the increasingly digital-driven world we live in, it empowers me to help customers on their own digital transformation journeys,” Tan elaborates.
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE
Tan believes that everyone will experience failure at some point in their lives or careers and that instead of dwelling on the failure, one should learn from it instead. She speaks of her own experience: “I recall a key project I was working on that was falling far behind schedule. I didn’t anticipate the issues I would encounter, resulting in a three-month delay in completing the project.”
She could have pressed the panic button, spiraling hopelessly downhill. Instead, Tan decided it was toughen up or nothing at all. “I looked for solutions instead. I took this experience and used it to become much better at managing my mindset and that made me the person I am today,” she says.
That’s the advice she wants to share – mindset shift. “If you are always negative, your first instinct is to give up and everything will easily fall apart. Be passionate in what you do. If you are passionate enough, any obstacle that comes along the way will be another exciting challenge that you will overcome. Always be positive in what you are doing and think of it as a bridge to your passion. Never stop learning and continue to seek opportunities to do what you are most passionate about,” says Tan.
Aside from the mindset shift Tan emphasises on, she also subscribes to being flexible and adaptable as her mantra for success. This is how one can overcome challenges such as new cultures and processes as a recent hire, says Tan. “Continue to stay relevant and stay ahead of the curve,” shares Tan.
As to how to be future ready for an industry that’s always changing, Tan believes in focusing on what makes you unique and stand out. “Start by building your ‘brand’ – how you can be unique, relevant and differentiated from others. Focus on your key competencies while continuing to grow and improve in other areas. Also, start networking and engaging mentors. These connections and support can help you as you progress in your career,” she says.
At Dell, these connections are made easily available to its employees via what is called the Employee Resource Groups, a platform for people to share and learn through networking, mentoring and leadership development opportunities as well as give back to the community. This reason and others such an inclusive culture, a diverse workforce and full flexibility make Dell a great place to work, says Tan. “It is a place where you will always have lots of opportunities to explore to grow as a person, both personally and professionally,” she adds.
And when all the right elements are in place, it’s only right to take the opportunity to further develop yourself. Tan’s advice on how to do this? “Never stop learning, expand your networking horizon, have a positive mindset and take care of your health.”
Feature photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash