Apr 12 2023

Building resilience through the attitude of gratitude

By Meta Careers
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After four successful years managing the Asia Pacific gaming business at Meta, which requires depth and vertical subject matter expertise, Karen T. now heads up the Global Business Group (GBG) Mid-Market Asia Pacific organization at Meta. With an emphasis on creating value and impact at scale, she oversees a large team and an even bigger number of client relationships across the region.
Having been a small business owner herself, particularly of a cat café that built a passionate community of animal lovers committed to driving adoption of abandoned pets, Karen has been inspired by the many stories of small- and medium-sized business owners who have realized their dreams, created jobs for people in their communities and connected globally on Meta technologies. With this background, you could say Karen’s current responsibilities are right up her alley as VP of the GBG Mid-Market organization.
Life at work or home, for Karen, wasn’t always a walk in the park, though. She has gone through some low periods in her life, but she says she has thrived in spite of them and emerged with optimism for the future. Below, Karen shares more about her background and experiences working at Meta.

Struggle builds character. What is one adversity you have overcome to accomplish something worthwhile?

Being a people manager at Meta can be daunting at first. The expectations related to leading teams here are different than at other places I’ve worked. At Meta, we are very much like servant leaders in the way we lead our teams. It isn’t about just top-down commands. It is about bringing people along and people wanting to follow you.
When I first came to Meta, it was tough. I was the leader of the Greater China Region gaming team — and I was terrible at leading. It was difficult for me to show what my vision was, my strategy, my thoughts. It was hard to rally people, and I couldn’t grasp this servant leadership style that Meta expects of its leaders — of practicing humility, of building ownership through clarity, influence and inspiration instead of just imposing top-down directions. I was, instead, trying to build consensus across the team, which isn't really leadership. This leadership style definitely slowed things down and created massive team confusion.
That was a real struggle. At that point, I thought that was it. I had basically failed as a people manager in this company — until I worked hard to listen to people and see what they wanted. I learned very quickly. As I took a step back and looked at the people reporting to me, I asked myself, “What are the things that I can learn very quickly from them, what can they do better and how do we divide and conquer and still work toward a shared vision?" When I focused my attention on learning, identifying and closing the gaps, I gained confidence to be more than the perfect, nice manager — to be inspiring. I held myself accountable as much as my team was.
For me, becoming a better people manager was about being humble and understanding that you are not everything to everyone. Not only did the business perform really well — we overcame challenges but we weren’t working longer hours just to get things right. I emerged with a team that respects me and is still in touch with me for professional guidance or just to chat.

We are inclined to focus on threats and dangers — even those we imagine. How do you focus on the positives and what is right about the world around you?

The baseline of positivity is learning. If you keep looking at situations as opportunities for learning and growth and try to get something positive out of them, the brain gets rewired from negative to positive thinking.
In my previous jobs before Meta, I was always in a position where my job was really just to clear all the problems. It became almost like my speciality — the person who cleans up the mess. So with that kind of training experience and the need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you learn to think about where the issues might be, and very quickly, logically, look for the positives, which are the opportunities and learnings. Once you start doing that, you learn to balance it fairly quickly. Your mind gets wired a certain way.
"Karen looking at the camera smiling in an office settting"
“If you keep looking at situations as opportunities for learning and growth... the brain gets rewired from negative to positive thinking.”

In facing your challenges, you have built positive habits. What are some of these that are automatic to you now, something you no longer have to think about?

It’s a sense of gratitude. Some years ago, I was stuck in a rut. I was unhappy with my job, and I felt miserable every day.
One day, I read somewhere that one of the simplest things you could do every night before you sleep is to write down seven things you are grateful for. I was like “That’s ridiculous.” But I wanted to get myself out of my mental and emotional funks, and I did it for a month. I found my moments of gratitude every night. I actually felt a change. That shocked and astounded me.
I began to read to understand how the brain is wired, how the neurons are firing the synapses, how we think and how we are affected emotionally. Learning about these topics makes me even more excited and positive, because I know I can control these things now, within myself. I can’t control my surroundings, but I can control how I view the world around me, and whatever adversity that comes with it.
So now, in whatever situation I’m in, it is very natural for my mind to go, “I’m so glad for this,” or “I’m so glad for that,” and I say it a lot more as well. I won’t just dismiss a situation as bad or negative or toxic, but I will always think of something I’m grateful for.

What is your vision for your team?

Over the past year, my team has redefined the ways in which we collaborate with our clients and partners in the region. Team members have been able to prioritize their time and harness their energy to crush their goals, and we finished the year feeling immensely proud of our impact. My vision for the year ahead is that our team will have the same, if not stronger, sense of fulfillment around their personal and professional growth.
As the co-lead of the global Pride@ Meta employee resource group, my goal is to help create more empathy, shared experiences and allyship beyond our geographical boundaries. We want to continue to drive forward a path toward deeper inclusivity by lifting the voices of our peers around the world.
On a personal level, I restarted my exercise regime by adding pilates, long walks and weight training to the mix. I was able to stay on the move while having fun, and I plan to continue making this a priority in the year ahead. I’ve also strengthened my commitment to volunteering, helping out with the audiovisual work at church and continuing to spend time with the feral cat trap-neuter-rehome (TNR) communities in my neighborhood by managing cat feeding duties. Juggling these responsibilities hasn’t always been easy. But as long as I know that I’m doing my small part to make the lives of people in my community a little better, it’s worth the hustle.

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