What are your key roles and responsibilities in your current positions? What do you like most about your job and what do you find most challenging? 

I am currently a Senior Director at Avanade, a global technology consulting firm. My main responsibility is to leverage my expertise in data analytics and data storytelling to streamline and bolster the company’s Data/AI capabilities and internal analytics structure as well as design and manage changes in the current ways of working. I see myself as a change agent in this role where I lead and work on various cross-functional initiatives that are of high significance to the company.

I appreciate that my role has a large degree of autonomy and flexibility as well as creative freedom. I enjoy building things while collaborating with other people, whether it’s building a new team, culture, or a new approach or capability, and I get to do that in my current role. The biggest challenge, which is not specific to this role but any role, is to understand the processes and how the teams work, build the network of key people, and establish the right foundation for my projects to be successful.


List or describe the top 5+ professional skills that are crucial to your role. 

  1. People and communication – This includes relationship building, team building, effective communication and presentation as well as public speaking.
  2. Data storytelling – This is the ability to translate and elevate data insights into business strategy and decision-making. When it comes to data analytics the focus tends to be on technical skills like coding, and I find that many companies overlook the importance of data storytelling skills for the crucial last mile where data should effectively guide and steer business in the right direction.
  3. Curiosity and creativity – I find that having strong curiosity helps you open doors that lead to new ideas. Being creative doesn’t mean you need to be artistic. What’s important is the desire and passion to create something new to solve an issue.
  4. Project management and organization – In my professional career, work usually takes the form of a project. You need to be organized and be on top of everything (goals, people, tasks, risks, timeline, etc.) involved in a project.
  5. Leadership qualities – This is a very big blanket term for many critical leadership qualities. To me this is all about having the right state of mind to reach professional maturity. These qualities include but are not limited to empathy, adaptability, integrity, commitment, transparency, confidence, and passion.
  6. Professional presence – As you become more senior, I learned that it becomes increasingly important to know how to present yourself in a professional setting. How you are perceived by others is very important in a corporate environment and it is good to be aware of this.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory? For example, what skills and/or experiences did you acquire that have contributed to your career success? 

My time and experience at Yale helped shape my career in many ways. My early skills in data analytics were acquired at Yale where I conducted many experiments with speakers of different languages, building and testing hypotheses, collecting data, creating large datasets and analyzing data using statistics. This is where I discovered the art of data storytelling, pulling insights out of a vast sea of numbers and telling a story. Having opportunities to present in front of large audiences at academic conferences was extremely valuable in honing my presentation and public speaking skills as well as boosting my confidence.

I was fortunate to have worked as a research assistant at Haskins Laboratories, which is a Yale-affiliated research lab specializing in speech science. I worked with professional researchers at Haskins, where I learned how to manage multiple projects supported by grants and built relationships in a professional setting.

A PhD dissertation in and of itself is a very large long-term project where you gain time management and project management skills, problem solving skills, as well as writing skills. In my opinion the two most significant things a PhD gives you are perseverance and tenacity. I firmly believe that if one can finish a PhD program, one is well poised to tackle a complex project in a professional environment.


What were the biggest challenges that you faced when transitioning to different workplaces and cultures? What advice and suggestions can you offer to current students to help them prepare for those challenges?

When transitioning to a different workplace, the biggest challenge is to learn about the organization and understand how things work in that organization. Every organization has its own quirks and you need to fully understand the culture first to make an impact. In order to be successful in your role, you need to establish your own personal brand and carve out a niche for yourself in the organization. To do this, you first need to understand where you fit from a big picture perspective. You need to talk to a lot of people and identify the key individuals who are influential in your area of work. You will also want to find out what’s working well and what could be done better. It is often helpful to practice active listening, take notes on who’s who, and carefully observe how things are done.

On a personal note, I relocated from the US to Japan not too long ago in the summer of 2022. Having built my entire professional career post-Yale in the San Francisco Bay Area, it has been an additional challenge to learn and adjust to a new work culture since ways of working in Japan are very different from those in the US. This move has certainly broadened my horizon and I believe having experience in two work cultures and having two cultural perspectives have given me an advantage in how I approach a project and solve a problem.

My advice for current students is to hone your communication skills and be a team player with an open mind. Listening is a key skill that is often underrated because everyone focuses on speaking, presenting and getting their ideas across. While they get guidance from their advisors, PhD students tend to work by themselves, setting their own goals and managing progress and timeline for themselves. In industry, work projects are usually done in teams. Therefore it is extremely important to be a good team player with an open mind who appreciates diverse points of views and can collaborate effectively with others.

Work Experience
  • Senior Director
  • Avanade
Humanities and Social Sciences PhD Pathways
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