By Bonnie Kong, SU Senior

Lan Luan, who received her master’s degree from the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2004, spoke to students about her career path this past Tuesday as part of SU’s Alumni Speaker Series. Bonnie Kong was in the audience.

Lan Luan G'04

Growing up, Lan Luan had a straight career path in mind: go to America for college, major in business, and work in financial services. However, a few detours drove her off that track. Instead of going to school first in America, she attended a university in Singapore. Instead of majoring in business, she majored in computer science. Instead of working in financial services, she worked for Microsoft. Each detour, Lan told us, made her life more fulfilling. While in Singapore, she picked up international ballroom dancing, a hobby she still continues. She majored in computer science at SU because her scholarship was limited to STEM fields. At Microsoft, she is a senior product manager, responsible for the quality of ads on Bing. Thus, where she is now is far from her initial track, but she is not complaining. She has enjoyed every moment of it and made the best of every situation. At Microsoft, Lan manages a large team of employees, but still has time to go hiking and be enrolled in Wharton’s Executive MBA program.

Lan Luan speaking to students

Lan’s experiences have defined her as a person and have taught her to adapt quickly. Although Lan’s presentation attracted a large number of international and engineering students, she gave advice that is applicable to any student. In some instances, Lan felt disadvantaged because of her accent or as a woman in a male-dominated field. But she was able to see and act beyond that. In fact, being an international student played to her advantage because she understood international markets. Additionally, as an international student in America or working overseas, she adjusted to American life smoothly because of her willingness to interact with Americans. Lan’s ability to adapt appealed to employers.

What impressed me the most about Lan’s career path was that she was passionate about her work despite straying far from her original route. She encouraged students to show authenticity and passion, qualities that are not only key to being successful in any industry, but also to being happy in life. Lan’s career path proved that there are numerous paths and opportunities in life. The right one is the one that you choose to take.

The Alumni Speaker Series continues on March 27th, as we welcome Theo Moll back to Syracuse University. Theo represents professional and celebrity speakers as Vice President of Keppler Speakers’ College and University Division. On April 4th, we’ll welcome Brian Tarrant, who is a Vice President at MC2 Events, Exhibits and Environments. His company designed the Melo Center’s Hall of Fame. Hope to see you at these great events!

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