Power Ladies Breakfast: Yolanda Lee on Unconventional Careers

May 5, 2020
Highlights from our session on unconventional careers with Yolanda Lee

Conventional career paths are gone, uncertainty is the only certainty and a lifelong growth mindset is what will help us navigate this new reality. Our guest Yolanda Lee's career has been no different, having worked across four continents and various tech giants (Uber, Deliveroo & Rocket Internet), here are some highlights and learnings from her recent Power Ladies Breakfast session with us:

How do you coach yourself to show you are capable of taking on a role even though it is a pivot?

"I try my best to test and learn a new skill set and area of interest before changing tack. If the role is within my company, I may ask people working on the team or project to take me through their day to day, understanding their roles and challenges in and out. I would put myself forth to help with relevant projects depending on my bandwidth. That being said, I believe that you are never 100% ready for the biggest opportunities - I have a commitment to lifelong learning and I have confidence in my ability to figure out the things I don’t know. You will never know how to do every single thing in a new job/career but if you do, it’s probably not a great sign as you are well within your comfort zone and not really learning as much as you could be. I have had to unlearn how to let go of perfectionism in life because I think that trying to maintain this can hold oneself from growing. I always strive for excellence but I am OK if I make some mistakes along the way."

In the time of fast changes and uncertainty how do you find anchors that bring you back to your path when you are wondering too much?

"This is probably going to sound very zen but the answers are usually within yourself. Being able to decipher between your core values/what is important to you and all the external noise is a necessary skill to build up but it can take a lot of trial and error to get there. From my perspective, things are always in flux and being adaptive and proactive to these changes is crucial. Change also presents a lot of opportunities - there are so many great companies that came out of the financial crisis (Whatsapp, Slack, Airbnb, etc)."

How / when do you think is the right time to jump to a new industry / role? You can never know 100% what the next job entails (how you fit in the environment, whether the role is the right fit), so how do you take a calculated risk to do that?

"This will vary depending on a lot of factors like your industry, stage of life, appetite for risk. Do as much research as possible. Speak to people within the industry to understand career progression and outlook. Do an inventory of what is really important to you and what transferable skills you might have. Are there opportunities within your company to be mentored by someone on the relevant team? Can you ask your manager for a stretch project from your manager that builds these competencies? Be vocal with anyone who will listen about your interest in this area and create opportunities this way."

How do you get over that fear? Have there been moments when you didn’t manage to get over that fear, and how have you learnt to become friends with fear (if you have)?

"I definitely have not eradicated fear out of my career or my life. I would say that time has helped me to see that I am capable of achieving things I never thought I could and that had I let myself stay stuck in the fear, I would have never discovered my abilities. There are still so many things I don’t know how to do so as long as that is true, I will push myself to walk with fear.

There are moments where I gave into the fear and that was definitely a learning experience. There are roles I didn’t apply for that I didn’t think I was ready for and I saw people at my level  go for them. You learn to see that “never knowing” feels worse than trying and failing."

What is a Power Ladies Breakfast?

Power Ladies Breakfast is a fortnightly breakfast session by NewCampus, featuring 12-15 women leaders sharing and discussing the struggles, successes and changes that have influenced them in their personal and professional lives. For more information about the session or how you can join, check out newcampus.co/community/power-ladies-breakfast.


About NewCampus

NewCampus is an education and technology company. We design and build learning solutions equipping a new generation of critical thinkers and infinite learners to take on the challenges of unprecedented global change ahead, within their organisations and communities. Our team has been working remotely for the past five years, and now we’re helping other companies do the same in these very strange times.  

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