This month, I had the honour and privilege of meeting one of Live Your Potential’s most successful and motivated scholarship recipients – Sujung Lee. Her story is one of self-discovery, an evolution of courage and the journey into the unknown. Using the tools from LYP’s Women’s Leadership and Career Development Program, Sujung has climbed in her career, recognized her confidence and continues to take on leadership initiatives. This article will not only recognize the impact of this scholarship on women, but to tap into how transformative a scholarship such as this is for its recipients. It’s acknowledging a desire to change and evolve into being your true self.
The Live Your Potential scholarship provides opportunities to high-potential women to support their journey towards leadership and career success. In the last several years, the LYP program has proven to be a successful model that has empowered dozens of women to take steps towards building rewarding careers (including that of myself). I am a graduate of LYP’s program and I can say I have been able to gain increased confidence, a “can-achieve” attitude, and a greater sense of personal leadership. Interviewing the very first LYP Scholarship Recipient, Sujung Lee, reinforced LYP’s mission, impact and importance. Here is Sujung’s story.
1) What motivated you to apply for the scholarship back in 2016? Where were you in your career at that time?
The journey towards where I am today is a very interesting one. I started off with a HBSc degree from the University of Toronto in Biology and Economics. Initially, I thought I would become a medical researcher but started on a career path that was in the opposite direction. I found a keen interest in marketing and became a specialist, working with Kotra and now Microsoft. LYP’s program appealed to me because it would provide me with the tools to articulate myself professionally, build on my self-confidence and take an action to achieve what I wanted. Today in my current position as a Category Manager at Microsoft, I have gained much respect from my team and stakeholders, given opportunities to contribute, develop and lead and lastly, feel empowered as a woman in my current role.
2) What was the LYP Program experience like for you? What would you say was your biggest gain/take aways?
I now feel resilient, proactive, empowered and seen. At first, I wanted to join LYP’s program because I felt that I needed to learn how to articulate myself professionally and further develop my communication skills. What ended up happening in the course was more than I had expected. I had awakened the confidence I had inside, spoke with more purpose and meaning, develop leadership practices that facilitated teamwork, and found my personal branding. In the course, I was able to hear pointers from female leaders, participate in networking events and practice skills that I learned from the LYP program. One of my many key learnings from the program is that “practice makes confidence”. I always thought being confident was a privilege for only naturally gifted people. But with the LYP program, I was able to gain confidence by practicing my communication skills, negotiation skills, and influencing power.
3) What has your leadership and career development journey been like since the program?
I thought that my self-confidence would be my gain but now I realize it is the comfort of a resilient, courageous, growth mindset. In reflection, I remember I would usually not say a thing during meetings, (I would stay quiet). I did not want to object because I felt that I was crossing the line with my ideas. Then one day, I just mentioned an idea, becoming more proactive than passive, and voila, speaking my truth lead to more opportunities within Microsoft! When I was given the responsibility of being a Category Manager at Microsoft, I did not want to be a leader that told people what to do. I decided to become a leader of myself first, practicing my skills and then transferring them into my position. I wanted to be that leader I would like to work for and I believe I have become her. I enjoy working at Microsoft and continue to develop my skill set, seeking out more leadership opportunities within.
4) What advice do you have for women to live their full potential?
To me, to live your full potential, it must start with action (which may not always be successful, but it is an action nevertheless). How are you going to do anything if you do not take an action? This perhaps may result in an outcome that was NOT in your plan, but it always leads you towards something better, towards your best potential. Spend time discovering your ideas. Learn how to communicate these in the world and embrace failure as your lesson to build upon you. Every woman has skills already, LYP just awakens it. I now celebrate ME!
Thank you to Sujung Lee for her words of experience, wisdom and celebration. Her journey into self is a timely example of a woman who is living her FULL potential and discovering it along the way with openness, compassion and much self love.
For those interested in applying for the Live Your Potential scholarship, please check the website link https://bit.ly/2m2Pnka to download the application package. Good luck to all applicants and I encourage you to invest in yourself. It truly is a valuable gift for this lifetime.
(The following interview has been edited from its original transcript for LIVE YOUR POTENTIAL’s Website)
Sephra Khan is a lifelong educator who is open, curious and deliciously happy! Always seeking to cultivate more awareness, flow and creativity in people. Practices and educates on an integrated, balanced approach to life (one that is holistic, diverse and inclusive). She is currently a guest writer for LIVE YOUR POTENTIAL.