While my job title was “Product-to-Market Manager,” I viewed my role as “Translator.” With fashion designers in the U.S., software engineers in Romania, and vendors across Asia, I helped my colleagues at an e-commerce retail company understand each other’s needs and align their work cycles. As I traveled from country to country, I gained deeper insight into different cultures and perspectives. With each trip, I dedicated myself to building stronger cross-team and cultural bonds, helping to make the company more inclusive.
I’ve traveled to 15+ countries, and this has shaped how I see the world. Cultural exchange and perspective taking has always been important to me, through my undergraduate studies in International Relations, study abroad, and now as the long-distance partner of a Peace Corps volunteer. Cultural exchange has allowed me to become a part of families in multiple countries and better understand what life is like outside my own experiences.
Cultural understanding is also critical in a leadership context. As a leader, you need to work with a diverse set of people and understand their perspectives to ensure they have positive experiences at work. Acting as Co-President of Stern Student Government with Sohail Mathur has been a tremendous leadership learning opportunity for me. Of note, it has further highlighted the importance of diversity in hiring. Having board members who represent the broader student body has enabled us to achieve better outcomes across a range of projects. I have a tendency to take on projects myself, rather than delegate, to get them done quickly. However, in this role I have worked to lean on my peers, especially because they bring strengths that complement my own. In one example, our VP of International Career Development has greatly improved the international student experience at Stern, especially by communicating the STEM OPT designation. As an international student himself, he brings a unique perspective I cannot offer as a U.S. citizen. What I can continue to offer, however, is the ability to listen and translate needs across my team.
In simple terms, I care about making people happy and bringing out the best in them at work. In her Managerial Skills course, Professor Dolly Chugh highlights the tremendous impact managers have on an employee’s life through their workplace experiences. Managers directly shape how someone feels about themself when they leave the office. And it’s not simply altruism, teams feel more invested and generate stronger ideas when they’re happy. I believe that managers have a responsibility to treat their employees in a fair, kind way.
I recognize my story has focused primarily on other people. I tend to be outwardly focused, using my teams’ experiences as a metaphor for my own. I’m admittedly not great at being vulnerable, but I am working on it because I can’t ask others to share themselves without being willing to open up myself. Becoming a leader is a constant work in progress, and for me, the Stern MBA is just one step in this developmental journey.