My journey through writing my first book & script, breaking into Product Management, learning more about the start-up world, running marathons, finding new cool projects to play around with, and everything under the sun worth telling a story about.
By D-Term ’11 of my sophomore year, I had developed advanced scent receptors for catered events on campus. It was as if I had awakened my sixth sense and knew where to be at the right place, at the right time. I had successfully reached a bloodhound’s olfactory sense for detecting free food on campus.
I was taking Data Analysis for Decision Making class, taught by Professor Crystal Shields. She was a kind, empathetic, and passionate professor from Canada.
After class, I had a 2-hour break before heading to my next class, so I went to the Campus Center. The Rubin Campus Center hosted numerous events during the year. It was the central location for students, at the crossroads of the campus. I would sneak into an event and blend in with the crowd like a chameleon, even though I didn’t know anything about the event whatsoever.
I went up the stairs to the Class of 1946 Lounge on the second floor. It was an octagonal lounge, named in honor of the Class of 1946. My usual spot was on the chair by the window overlooking the Higgins House.
There was an IEEE conference that same day. My senses hadn’t let me down again. The next day, I went to my on-campus job in the morning. H’mon greeted me and said, “I saw you were at the conference yesterday, how was it?”
I’ve been expanding my knowledge of Product Management by taking IE Business School’s Brand and Product Management MOOC on Coursera. The course is about developing the factual support to define a product strategy, formulating a winning strategy that generates both quick-wins and long-term value, and creating a compelling customer experience journey.
Professor Luis Rodriguez Baptista talks about the Aaker Model for Brand Strategy as a way to bring your strategy to life. I found it useful when I was working on a project, and I’d like to share my notes with you:
Essence: What is it that you want your brand to be known for?
· What the brand is all about. Keep it short, understandable to everyone, and focused.
· Not a slogan or a tagline: a long-term core promise to all stakeholders.
Values: What are your brand’s most important competences?
· What customers experience when they use the brand / product?
· Define 3-5 values & define them precisely. Have a specific explanation of what these words mean.
External Identify: How does your brand connect with its stakeholders?
· Foundation of the relationship between your brand and your stakeholders.
Link to Coursera course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/brand-management
In the summer of 2014, I was back to the place I had left a year ago: 14 Dover Street, Worcester. While I was as student at WPI. I spent 3 years living there; now I was living there again.
Everything was the same, just the way I remembered it: the portrait of James Dean with his famous “Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die today” quote was still hanging in the hallway; the dining table someone had given to me was still in the living room; the same plants were dying of improper watering. Nothing had changed. Same old apartment 2A.
I had to quickly pick myself up and get my act together. It was a daunting task. This was the time when my friends and family were there for me for encouragement at down-times. All of them, but Seabass in particular.
I was applying for jobs in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, South America. I brushed up my Excel skills and learned Tableau. I interviewed with a company in Nairobi and a company in Brussels. I also interviewed for an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in a public middle school in Zhu Zhou, city of Hunan Province, China.
One day, I was in a real strop. July was almost over. I was on the brink of booking a ticket to Bulgaria anytime now. My mind was in turmoil. As I was dwelling on all of this, Seabass walked into the room.
I shared my frustrations with him, updated him about my current situation. I had gotten a job offer. He went silent for a moment, looked at me, and confidently told me, “You’re not moving to Kenya or Belgium. Or China. You’re staying in America.”
I was burnt out towards the end of B-term of my junior year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I hadn’t seen my family since 18 August 2009, and I already knew I wasn’t seeing them for the holidays.
I was fortunate to get a Co-op at Biogen in the spring of 2012. I was alternating a semester of academic study with a semester of full-time, paid employment. This was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the real world. I cherish the time I spent at Biogen.
I was living with my U.S. family in a town 5 miles northwest of Boston. I loved to mender along Boston’s Harborwalk after work. This was my favorite place in Boston, because it overlooked the airport. It had been 3 years since I last saw my family. I headed to the harbor on Wednesday, 28 March 2012. I stood there, peering at the planes taking off. I gazed at the water, looked up, and then smiled. I imagined it was August, and I was on the plane going home.
I followed the plane’s trajectory until it became a tiny dot in the sky. When my eyes got watery, I realized it was just a dream. A few minutes later, another plane took off. I started daydreaming again.
It got dark and chilly. I could hear the soothing sound of the waves crashing into the harbor. It was time to go. I was the last one to leave the harbor.