Career Advice
June 24, 2020

Ticking off career goals: How Ivy Chan has made her career transition at PALO IT

Based in Hong Kong, Ivy Chan fills the role of Research & Agile Consultant.

PALO IT is making waves in the world of innovation and software development. With over 400 experts, 12 offices across 7 countries and 40+ nationalities on board, the consultancy has steered away from the usual industry pitch, opting to help clients to rapidly launch products and services, while paving the way for organisations to use tech as a force for good. PALO IT’s team of innovators, designers and technologists prove this with every project they take on. Today, we were lucky enough to catch up with one such young talent — Ivy Chan.

Based in Hong Kong, Ivy Chan fills the role of Research & Agile Consultant. She has found her way to her current position through hard work, mentorship and years of growth to become an integral part of the PALO IT team. We picked Ivy’s mind on what sets the organisation apart from other tech companies, and how she is ticking off her career goals, all while striving to shape a better world around her.

Our values reflect our vision

In the past, Ivy had been working as a recruiter, building relationships and networking within the industry prior to joining PALO IT. It was in this role that she met PALO IT employees, and her curiosity was piqued. After reaching out to the HR Manager, Amin, they met to discuss industry trends, the role of recruiters, and their vision on how team culture can be built differently.

Amin, recognising that Ivy’s values and vision aligned with the company, cut straight to the chase saying, “To be frank, we are not in urgent need to work with external recruiters. However, I want to know if you are interested to work with me in building the PALO IT Hong Kong team”. With this upfront transparency and flexibility laid out to her from the get go, Ivy did what most of us would…she jumped at the opportunity!

An environment of empowerment and trust

Embarking on her journey at PALO IT as a Talent Acquisition Specialist meant understanding the business and supporting team growth by recruiting the right talent. The flat organisational structure and emphasis put on high trust and transparency (without the hierarchical malarkey), was a breath of fresh air for Ivy.

For one, Ivy says the team is trusted to make independent decisions when they are on projects. The management team respects that individuals on a project have “a better context” than those who aren’t. This allows them to co-create a strategy that is at once beneficial to both the client and the organisation. Company culture is at the forefront of PALO IT, and this allows team members to achieve the perfect balance, and constantly create value both autonomously and collectively.

Team empowerment is also fundamental to the working culture at PALO IT. Everyone within the team is considered when HR is recruiting for a role. The outmoded concept of senior hierarchy calling all the shots is shunned here. Instead, all team members have a chance to interview candidates and give their feedback candidly.

Another refreshing aspect is that when it comes to annual reviews, teammates are the ones to provide feedback. The team also has a say in the seniority level of the person in review, not just the C-levels. The integrity of the review is never sacrificed…a welcome relief for many!

Tech as a force for good

Ivy reflects on the five core values at PALO IT which are: “We care about our world”, “We share, it’s in our DNA”, “We act with courage”, “We deliver awesomeness” and “We choose positivity”. She decided she resonates most with “We deliver awesomeness”. She relates this idea of aiming to exceed expectations in everything she creates and that PALO IT is both happiness and business-value driven. It seems they are onto something with their internal harmony and shared values.

Ivy is lucky in that she has managed to achieve feeling empowered at PALO IT — something a lot of us only hope for. She has never felt as though she is part of a “big machine” where her work is without meaning at PALO IT. She goes into work everyday knowing each team member is appreciated and will “make crucial decisions, take big steps and be encouraged to do so, often on a daily basis”.

Ivy’s passion for working for PALO IT is maintained by the company’s values, “sustainability is a core value for every project we touch and every action our organisation takes”. Unlike others in the industry who are ‘all talk’, the company truly cares about making a positive impact and hopes, in turn, they are inspiring others to build a better world. For a few examples of recent projects, check out their work.

Flexibility, autonomy and innovation

As time went on, Ivy found herself focusing more on building an organisational culture at PALO IT. This led to her creation of multiple internal initiatives based on the needs of their people. These goals were inspired by her mentorship and introduction to Agile methodology, which posits, “in a constantly changing and complex environment, instead of betting everything on a big bang launch, it’s more beneficial to deliver work in small but consumable increments with feedback loops for continuous improvement”.

Embracing this approach, Ivy developed initiatives that included building a recruitment Kanban board and educating others to consume data, so the whole team can understand their candidate pipeline and progress at a glance. She also built an information dashboard, updated on a monthly basis, to share statistics on company performance. More recently, she’s acted as the host and driving force behind PALOcast, PALO IT’s podcast.

Through the support of her team at PALO IT, Ivy was able to contribute to real business projects such as UX research and Agile transformation. This then led to her transition within the company to work officially as a Research & Agile Consultant.

The most challenging aspect of switching roles for Ivy was overcoming the doubt that she was too junior to contribute. Although she was initially feeling intimidated, she soon embraced the opportunity and realised, in her words, “it’s okay to be wrong, I can always ask questions”. This allowed her to contribute and move the conversation forward. Feeling safe and supported has allowed Ivy to shed her doubts and contribute in a big way to the team.

Ivy proactively asked management for opportunities to shadow consultants on projects and, without hesitation, they encouraged her to do it. She quickly found herself getting involved in project discussions and being given more autonomy on things she was passionate about.

We don’t need a hero, we need a team

For those of you wondering what it takes to make it as part of the PALO IT team, Ivy has some sound advice, “prepare to fail and learn as much as you can from the failure”. PALO IT likes people with an entrepreneurial mindset, “people who have the ability to look at a problem or situation, digest available data, and make a confident decision to move forward”. Ivy says they value team members who take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, “people who are able to deal with making mistakes in a positive way and those who have the ability to be coached”.

Written by
Mikaela Thompson

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