5 Minutes With... Carolyn Vo, Senior Tech Lead at Oliver Wyman
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I love learning new technologies and making them play nicely with existing ones. I’ve been a web and software developer for 18+ years and like to combine professional development experience with business acumen. I started my career in software and technology as an intern with SGI (Silicon Graphics) doing Java development and have since then worked for a variety of different companies in digital marketing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and accounting. My passion lies with improving the way things are done on a day-to-day basis. When I’m not working, I prefer to go analog and go hiking, camping, kayaking, road tripping, skiing, and going to food and wine festivals.
What does an average day look like for you?
I’m across a variety of things, so there’s no such thing as an average day! I like to start my day with a simple breakfast and a cup of green tea to kick things off properly. I spend a lot of my time educating, onboarding, training, and connecting people, as well as lending my technical hand to engagements to provide estimates, scope work, solution architect, and even occasionally code. My focus has been to help grow the team in the region, and there is definitely time well-spent reviewing CVs, screening and interviewing candidates, and figuring out how we can get more creative with finding diverse candidates out in the wild. Interaction with colleagues across different timezones and geographies is the norm, whether it’s via HipChat or email or Zoom or Facetime. To close the day out, I try to get disconnected for a bit and go for a jog or run, or venture out to sample offerings from a new restaurant I’ve read about.
In your opinion, which brands or businesses are using digital / technology to its full potential and how?
Actually, I don’t think any brand or business is using digital / technology to its full potential. I think what we’re seeing is only a glimpse of the potential for a lot of companies such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Apple, WeChat, Uber, and Amazon. The one thing in common for all these companies is that they know how to leverage big data combined with a compelling user experience to keep their consumers engaged and loyal.
What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?
The automated passport control stations in airports—I travel a lot for work and when these are available, they make coming from and going to different countries extremely easy. It may not be the most exciting piece of innovation, but it is definitely the best! :D
How has employee engagement changed in recent times and how do you ensure that you have the highest levels among your employees?
I think employee engagement has become challenging in recent times, unfortunately. The new norm seems to be company-hopping after a few years to further advance one’s career, and as a result you sometimes see an impact on employee engagement. Some individuals see some companies as attractive stepping stones to allow them to jump to the next opportunity, and they don’t see the need to feel emotionally committed or passionate about the companies they join nor the companies’ goals.
What I personally do to ensure as high a level of employee engagement as possible is simple:
(1) I treat people like adults. If you hire good people, they thrive when you give some autonomy.
(2) I make myself easily accessible in every way possible: phone, text messages, HipChat, email, Facetime, Zoom, you name it. You want to throw some ideas around? Let’s talk. You want to vent? Let’s talk. You want to contribute to a cause you feel passionate about? Let’s talk. You see a way we can build a better community at the organization? Let’s talk.
(3) I develop a dynamic with people on a per-person basis. We have a very diverse organization and some people need information pushed to them, some people need information pulled from them. Some people are introverts, others are extroverts. Some people love to chat on Slack, others love to jump on a video conference and talk things over with a virtual happy hour. You will end up realizing quickly that by engaging with people in a way that is most effective for them, you are helping them feel more connected to the organization and subsequently more vested.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
With how much I travel for work, is it boring if I say “home”? ☺