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Let's Get Coffee with Eric Quon-Lee

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Dave Wilkin
Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
November 21, 2019

Why should someone share a coffee (or tea) with someone new - a colleague from a different team or department- in their company? 

Internal networking, especially with those outside of one's immediate group, is critical to growth and overall corporate awareness. There are a couple of reasons for this: (1) it builds a greater ability to get things done, due to the fact that individuals already know who to contact within another group and (2) it enables someone to gain a better understanding of the group through the eyes of an individual, thus fostering better working relationships.

If you could only ask just one question to spark a conversation, what would it be? 

It's an interesting question in itself. I think mine is a bit boring but I would ask: "Regardless of role and current constraints, what do you want to do in the next 3 to 5 years?" For me it gives a good sense of the person's true motivations regardless of what they are doing now. 

Can a "coffee chat" be in person, via skype, or both? 

Another interesting question. I do accept both, but I find the in-person meeting offers a better opportunity to get to know someone than over Skype. Business is 95% human relationships and 5% knowledge in my personal opinion. 

Who is one person that helped you in your career and what was the ah-ha moment you had with them? 

I wouldn't say it is one person but several. You need that diversity of thought and opinion to (a) make sure you don't develop groupthink in your decision making and (2) ensure you start developing your own decision making frameworks to use later in highly ambiguous situations.

What is a piece of advice you would share with other professionals? 

You have to constantly meet different people of different backgrounds, perspectives and cultures in order to maintain your own agility and to ensure you aren't developing groupthink. Whether individuals like it or not, the world changes and it is better to understand the change that is coming than to stubbornly refuse to acknowledge change. 

Compare: the job your "18-year old self" thought you'd have vs. the job you have today? 

It's both far and close at the same time. I thought I would be a politician getting things done at a country level. Nowadays, I'm getting things done at a global corporation level. I think it was a trade up. :-)

In general, for others wanting to grow into a career like yours, how much of it is formal training vs. informal experiences? 

Both are required but I would say a lot of it is informal experience. Formal training is required to get past the standard recruitment filters but informal experience is the one to focus on.

Ten Thousand Coffees is an enterprise talent development platform for informal learning. We help companies scale and measure informal development by enabling colleagues to learn from each other. Whether it’s for career development, culture transformations, or learning programs - our data-driven smart matching technology connects colleagues based on their goals, interests, and role. The Future of Work is transforming organizations: informal development between colleagues is where talent mobility and culture sticks.

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