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E6 Don’t Give Up: The Journey From High Power Hierarchy To Personal Power with Ada Tai

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Bio for Ada

With a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree from the University of Alberta, Ada Tai, a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) and a Chartered Manager (C. Mgr.), has been working as an HR professional in a variety of industries and organizations since 10 years.  Through her business, BadaB Consulting, Ada provides individualized HR services and corporate training. She is able to strategically integrate effective HR processes, programs and practices into clients’ daily operations, as well as provide customized training sessions which align with clients’ business objectives. She also provides personal job search and career coaching. Through her services, Ada has helped many frustrated job seekers transform their careers.

Ada’s engaging and well researched public speaking skills have her regularly invited to speak on human resources, people management, career search, and networking topics throughout the province of Alberta. She instructs at MacEwan University and Metro Continuing Education and mentors MBA Program students at the University of Alberta.

Episode highlight

Ada Tai’s self-confidence and courage have served her well from mainland China to Canada and Croatia. In this podcast, she speaks about how her culture and upbringing shaped her approach to life and work, and shares advice for new immigrants from her rich and varied experiences.

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Quotes

  • “Don’t give up – go above, go around, go under – you will go through all the barriers.”
  • “I love working in HR – there isn’t one day that isn’t challenging. Each day offers variety and the opportunity to realize my passion to work with people.”
  • “My parents encouraged me to speak to people at hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations, where I learned how to interact confidently with strangers. They taught by example how to be confident, negotiate and communicate.”
  • “As a millennial, I like to be ‘lean and mean’- to do the most in the least time possible.”

Takeaways

Ada came to Canada as an international undergraduate student, studying tourism and recreation at the University of Alberta. She loves travelling and wanted to be a tour guide who speaks many languages. That desire came from her passion for networking with and meeting new people, and discovering their cultures, foods and history. A course in Human Resources changed that career path. Ada fell in love with everything “human resources” and hasn’t looked back since.

Her first job was doing telephone customer service. Never one to avoid work, Ada applied herself to finding a career more closely related to her degree and threw herself into job applications. 220 resumes later, and after only receiving 16 interviews that did not work out, she was devastated.

Taking a new approach, she soon discovered that talking to people, learning more about Canadian culture, and polishing her language were better ways to find a doorway into the hidden job market. After finding her first job through networking, Ada realized she had found the key to unlocking career opportunities. Since then, she has relied on networking for creating a professional career, making job changes, winning promotions and starting her own business.

Childhood incidents:

When Ada’s parents moved from a small town to a city in China for work, her grandparents raised her. Her parents and her grandparents both played a big role in who she is today. They are innovative and forward-thinking people. When ever they could, her parents took her travelling from the age of three. They encouraged her to speak to people at hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations, where she learned how to interact confidently with strangers. They taught by example how to be confident, negotiate and communicate. They set her up to practice the skills and traits that have now helped her in her career.

Groups you were born into:

She grew up learning how to be humble, respectful, and a good listener, which is part of the Chinese culture – they believe that people with age and experience know better.

Her entire family believed in hard work and that anyone can reap the benefits of putting effort into work.

Groups you chose to belong to:

As a millennial, she likes to be ‘lean and mean’- to do the most in the least time possible, allowing her to be efficient. She plans her days and tasks and always maintains a vision about what she wants to achieve and become, and how she wants to shape her career.

She is clear in her expectations with people while also being respectful, a leadership style that has emerged from a combination of her upbringing and traits of her own generation.

Temperament and personality influences

Once, when her father went for a vacation with his friends, they brought their children too. Ada always took initiative, encouraging other children to participate in activities. She picked up the mic for karaoke when offered, allowing her otherwise shy friends to get up and dance!

Ada has many opportunities to present and instruct in English, to people who speak English as their first language. Although it is challenging, she has never been shy to seize the opportunity and give it her best. Even though she has moments of self-doubt, Ada is motivated by her natural drive and vision to reach her goals.

She has learned that people have different motivations, and those may be different from her expectations of them. She now comes up with different solutions to the problems she faces when working with colleagues and clients. She works to understand their motivations to find synergy by working on improving her professional relationships with them, to achieve the desired results.

A time I became aware that my way of doing things was cultural and specific to my cultural experience

From her Chinese culture, Ada learned to be respectful and defer to those who are older or who have more authority. She realized this was part of her culture when she experienced gatherings and dinners in Canada. Even now, when dining with colleagues of varying seniority, she raises her glass slightly lower than theirs, as a sign of respect – something she learned from her culture.

On the flip side, Ada learned the hard way that underplaying her role as prescribed by her culture, sabotaged chances for advancement. She finally understood what she needed to do to market herself career-wise once she started talking to more Canadians.

Advice to an employer to work with me

Savvy employers understand the diversity of the economic and cultural landscape of Canada. They keep an open mind about the experience and knowledge that people have to share, irrespective of their background. When people make suggestions, looking for the greater reason behind it would help them understand better how to work across difference.

It may also be helpful for employers to learn a few phrases in languages their team members speak, to develop better relationships. Employers with a healthy curiosity about other people’s cultures will know better how to motivate and encourage diverse employees.

More great insights from our guest!

Even though Ada has been in Canada for a long time and has married someone from a different culture, she still practices her English! Learning the culture and language of Canada is her number one goal.

She provides HR consulting to organizations and corporate training, and helps individuals with career planning and job search coaching. Reach out to her for any help!

Tag Line

Ada Tai: the journey from high power hierarchy to personal power

Extro

As a millennial immigrant, Ada Tai draws from a variety of influences – her Chinese values, her childhood memories, her generation’s need for speed, and her personal passion to help people. In this episode you will find out how Ada Tai carved a career in Canada by skillfully weaving her influences together, and consciously learning from different cultures –  while finding her personal power and voice in the process.

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