What are you currently doing in your professional life?
I'm currently working at a startup in the SF Bay Area. Our technology helps marketers at e-commerce websites improve the relevance and discoverability of their content (i.e., their products) to shoppers who are looking for those items. I have been with this company for almost 4 years, seeing it grow from ~40 employees to well over 200, and have had a number of different roles including product and customer success, managing a data analytics team, and creating and growing a new business line.
What leadership advice would you give to current WLP scholars?
I was the youngest member of my WLP class, and possibly the youngest ever to participate in the program, so as my first professional experience, I gained a lot of confidence knowing that I could excel and contribute meaningfully, both to my Congressional office, but also in discourse with my classmates. It taught me to be confident in my abilities and my convictions, and that lack of age or experience does not suggest limited potential to impact. I think this is a very important leadership lesson, particularly for young people.
What was the most significant thing you learned (either about yourself or life in general) during your WLP summer?
The one thing that stood out to me the most and that I remember most vividly is something that Kumar Barve said to us when we met him early in the summer. He was of course a member of the Maryland State Legislature's Democratic leadership at the time, and was telling us a story of how he was first elected to the legislature.
He recalled thinking that the entire process would be impossible and scoffed at the idea when an advisor asked him to run. Then the advisor broke down what would actually need to be done to win, starting with the votes they need, and then the number of phone calls they'd have to make and the houses they'd have to visit door-to-door to get those votes. Ultimately, Mr Barve came to the realization, that when you break it all down, the numbers are actually very reasonable and given the amount of time they had, it was more than feasible to accomplish if they follow a plan.
I think the main takeaway from this is that no matter how daunting something looks, if you break down the problem into the component steps, institute a plan, and take it one step at a time, you have a good chance of achieving anything. Of course external factors play a role, but for the most part, you need time, effort, and commitment, and all of those ingredients are in your control. This applies to whether you're starting a business or training for a marathon - it's an incredibly important lesson to remember.