For "What I Wish I Knew When I Was 25," a new series, LearnVest sat down with Marjorie Lau, the former Vice President of North American Marketing at Estee Lauder Inc. We share her wealth of personal and professional insights:
On Career: Set Goals and Strategies to Achieve Them
Finding Your True Interests
After working in the not-for-profit sector for four years after college, Lau wanted to transition into a different career. She decided to go to business school, where she'd be exposed to a broad range of industries. During her time at the Wharton School, Lau realized that she had a passion for brand marketing.
Identify the Market Leaders in Your Field
After realizing her passion, she strategized. "Once you decide the area you're interested in, identify the market leaders in that category," she advises.
Study Their Backgrounds
"Then,” she says, “take a look at the hiring profile of your target companies." Some questions to ask yourself include: What kind of background is necessary for the position you desire? Does your target company tend to hire at the MBA level? What are some other qualifications that the company sets for its employees?
Network Once You’re There
Once at your company of choice, Lau says that "communicating and cultivating relationships with a very broad network can help build your reputation."
Be Your Own Brand Evangelist
Lau's career as a brand marketer has given her a unique approach to people: "You are your walking brand," she stresses. "You have to let people know you're around, what you do, what you stand for and the things that you've accomplished for your company. Make sure people know you, and are aware of your skills and capabilities."
On Personal Finances: Kick-Start Your Savings as Soon as Possible
Research Investing as Early as Possible
At the age of 29, Lau proactively reached out to financial advisors and looked into investing her savings; however, she wishes she had started this process as soon as she graduated college. "As a student, I didn't grasp the concept of saving money. I was in spend mode," she recalls.
Be Active About It
Upon graduation, had a "try to save" mentality, without a fixed plan to actively save and invest. Looking back now, she wishes that she had created a real plan much earlier.
Do the Long-Term Math
"You have to understand the [...] time value of money," she explains. The sooner you get a head start in investing your savings, the faster your money will grow in value over time.
Pay Yourself to Save
"Pay yourself out of your paycheck: Set up your account so that a percentage of your earnings goes into a savings account, so it's not even available for you to touch." That way, saving become an automatic activity rather than a burden.
On Life: Diversity and Equilibrium are Key
Don’t Let Your Job Be All That You Are
At Estee Lauder, Lau conducted consumer research in Asia, Europe and North America, but her thirst for knowledge permeated into her personal life. Her advice to readers: "Read as much as you can. Travel, to the extent of your ability. Learn to appreciate different ways of living and doing things."
Open Your Eyes, Even at Home
Having varied experiences doesn't always necessitate traveling to exotic locales. "Have diversity in your life: In your experiences, what you learn, and who you meet. It will make you a fuller person."
Lau stresses the importance of maintaining equilibrium in your life: "Keep your work-life balance in check, and develop both your professional and personal life. Be sure not to neglect non-professional activities, and [make sure to] cultivate non-work interests. It makes you a more dimensional person, and it makes you more interesting because there are lots of different facets to who you are."