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Do what you’re afraid to do

We ask a few questions of Esther Pham, Director, Enterprise Service Desk at WBM, and a member of the HDI Strategic Advisory Board. She says it’s important to embrace challenges.

Thank you for agreeing to be a part of HDI’s Strategic Advisory Board. Why do you think it’s important to give back to the IT service and support community?

Personally, I love that I have the opportunity (the responsibility, really) to play a part in giving back to the IT community and supporting others who share my passion. Passion is everything in technology professions, and is even more critical at a time when IT has evolved beyond the technical to the experience. It’s incredibly important to share lessons learned to prevent organizations and professionals from repeating the same mistakes and to allow them to take advantage of organizational best practices and focus on the fun stuff.

What lesson did you learn from the biggest success in your career? And from one of your biggest challenges?

The biggest successes in my career have been when I have worked with a team or group of individuals who come together to deliver something amazing. I am often stubbornly self-reliant, so it’s been important to learn to lean on the team and build a network of resources and community. Tapping into collective thinking helps me gain new insights, get inspired, and drive change and outcomes more rapidly.

Similarly, the biggest takeaway I’ve had from every challenge is the importance of culture and the effect that culture can have on the results that are achieved. There’s an old adage that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and I’ve learned how true that can be. It’s important to know how you can contribute to culture to transform results and make the challenge easier, or at least more fun to tackle. Culture unifies a team to leverage people-first strategies that make any role or organization impactful and successful.

In your opinion, what skill or skills will be most needed in the next decade in this industry?

I believe there are 3 critical skills that are fundamentally required in the next decade:

High EQ – The abundance of social media and resulting information overload have fostered a new generation of socially conscious, open-minded, and highly informed workforce and end users. It’s created a mindset that’s more tuned into human emotions and a degree of hypersensitivity that drives the need for high emotional intelligence as a crucial skill to thrive in tomorrow’s workplace. Emotional and social intelligence also remain uniquely human capabilities that can’t ever be 100% replaced by digital technologies and AI. Having empathy and managing those emotions accordingly is a key component to influence our own behaviors and impact others around us – not only in the ability to collaborate and enhance communication skills, but also to navigate our own individual happiness factors.

Curiosity – Adopting a growth mindset of continuous learning is another key skill, as curiosity leads to the creativity and innovation that will keep your skills sharp to stay flexible and to be successful in navigating or embracing major changes. Natural curiosity also can’t easily be replicated by the latest digital technologies.

Critical Thinking – In today’s world where there’s almost too much interference from an overabundance of data and opinions, it’s more important than ever to be able to question the accuracy of information and to analyze facts rather than biases or misconceptions.

What are you most proud of in your career, and why?

I am most proud of where I am today with WBM and what I’ve accomplished with my professional career, my work, and, most importantly, my team! It’s not often that a person can say they were able to truly translate all of their skills and past experiences into one thing, and I’ve been able to do so with my efforts with this Service Desk. To be a part of this amazing team literally since Day 1, from standing up WBM’s newest and fastest growing business unit to leading it 7 years later, and being a part of its growth and evolution has been incredible. I’ve grown so much myself, and have also helped create new opportunities to elevate so many careers; it’s inspiring to be able to work with so many talented individuals and to be connected with such a fantastic community.

Our journey with HDI has been instrumental in cranking our flywheel to deliver the highest values of service and support to our client, and to find work with companies that truly share the same values is not easy to find!

You find yourself in a room full of IT service and support professionals and you have the opportunity to give them just one piece of advice to set them up for success. What would you say?

I’ve been a student, an employee, and a leader, and have pivoted through many jobs, industries, and cycles of constant change. Regardless of what role I’ve played, I would say the best path to success is to embrace failure, and to do what you’re afraid to do. Our natural comfort zone is to default to things we know or have certainty in; it’s scary to be vulnerable, but failure and success often go hand in hand. Persevering from past failures and learning from them forces us to do things differently, think creatively, and change our perspective, which more often than not results in huge success and bigger opportunities.

Think of an Olympian’s mindset – it’s more than just the ability, talent, or training – it is also a person’s level of resilience that determines who succeeds and who fails. Those who succeed are not only wiser and mentally tougher, but they are able to readjust from failure.

Expect the journey to success to be challenging and understand that if it were easy or guaranteed success, then everyone would be doing it!

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