Mentor Spotlight: Jenny Le and Getting out of your Comfort Zone

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Mar 22, 2018
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Career development and mentoring

 

This is the start of our new Mentor Spotlight series, where we interview some of the talented individuals who mentor students with MentorWorks. Today’s spotlight is with Jenny Le, an indirect tax specialist at PTC. Joel recently sat with Jenny to talk about her career at PTC.

Joel:
Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, and before we get started, could you give a quick introduction of yourself?

Jenny:
So I went to college in the Peter T. Paul School of Business at UNH and I majored in Accounting and Finance. Someone recently donated a lot of money, and so they changed the name and the facilities in the school, it was great.

I graduated college in 2015, throughout college, I was doing an internship in tax. Initially, I wasn’t looking into tax, but recruiters pushed me towards it, and I took it up. It really has a lot to do with my manager who pushed me towards it.

After graduating from college, I moved back to the Boston area and started working at a company called Sovos – it is a tech company that sold tax software. I worked on the service side and was doing the indirect taxes for them. Two years go by, and things felt a little stagnant, so I started to branch out to look for companies where I focus on just working on a single company’s taxes (rather than a bunch of others indirectly). I found PTC which is funny because they used Sovos’ software! I like being able to take a more in-depth dive and learn more about how a single company functions.

Joel:
It seems that you’re pretty drawn to technology companies

Jenny:
Yes, it’s definitely different, it’s much different compared to any other field. Typically, when you get into finance or accounting companies, the culture is much stricter. Tech companies are more relaxed compared to traditional accounting firms; you have a lot of engineers, product managers which leads to a more casual environment. We get to wear jeans!

Joel:
Going along those lines, can you tell me a little about what PTC does?

Jenny:
[Laughs] That is the question we get all the time!

So we’re a pretty old company, we were founded in 1985. Originally, we have focused on CAD (Computer-Aided Design) products, which is a 3D design of a product before it gets put into the manufacturing phase and created in the physical world. We have recently branched out, and now we’re really focusing on IoT (Internet of things) and AR (Augmented reality). If there is anything AR, PTC has probably done something with it.

We sell software to other companies to help them see the issues within their assumptions and then kind of fix it from within. For example, a customer came to us and they wanted us to build them something that could tell them how a certain product like a shoe would sell depending on the types of markets. With regards to augmented reality, we have worked with Caterpillar. What we did with them is to create a system of diagnostics that can help you fix a problem with your machinery in real time. For example, if you hovered a device over a machine and said it was broken, the device will show you in augmented reality how to fix it!

Joel:
And the culture?

Jenny:
The most significant thing I would probably say about PTC is since we’re branching out, our cultural focus is on “brains and passion.” It has a startup feel, but its actually a billion dollar company.

Joel:
Can you tell me a little about your role at PTC?

Jenny:
I am their indirect tax specialist here. I work on their sales tax. PTC has customers from all around the country, so I have to do taxes for all states. I also do property taxes so any property that we have I file for them too.  I have to make sure our tax account is always balanced with our general ledger. It’s a lot of Excel work!

Joel:
It seems like your job requires quite an attention to detail.

Jenny:
And patience!

Joel:
You’re currently a mentor at MentorWorks. What prompted you to do so?

Jenny:
The reason why I wanted to become a mentor is that; While I’m still pretty young and at the start of my career. I can say that three years ago I was probably having a quarter life crisis [Laughs], I wasn’t too sure about what to do with my career. Looking back now, I think to myself; “wow it really wasn’t a big deal!” Three years ago, I was not where I wanted to be but looking back now it seems that things just work themselves out.

As someone in tax, you tend to be working in an older crowd, meaning that you will be with people who are far higher up in the corporate ladder. And this makes you ask yourself “Will I get there? When am I going to be this successful?.” Now that I am where I’m at, I feel like I’m able to give people who are early in their career advice on how to navigate these sorts of problems!

Joel:
On that note, since you’ve started your career. Have there been people who you saw as your mentor?

Jenny:
I really lucked out a lot on my mentors. The people who I saw to be my mentors were my managers, but they made it a point to ensure I’m learning. They knew how to give me my space when I had to try to learn something myself, but when I needed help, they made sure I understood how to solve the problems. There was no micromanagement, and they would put you in situations where you had to learn. They made themselves the people who would have your back if you felt you were out of your depth and they never made you feel inadequate if you had problems with something they could quickly solve.

Joel:
That’s great! Is that something that is a part of PTC’s culture?

Jenny:
Yes! PTC has a focus on “Brains and Passion.” The Brains and Passion ethos means that the talent they are looking for is not necessarily experienced individuals, they are looking for people who are passionate, people who want to make a change. PTC knows that there are many people who are passionate but lack the experience. We look for smart people at the start of their careers who can hit the ground running.

A big part of this initiative is that we are also moving to the Innovation District in the Seaport. We want to be close to where all the young talent and where all the colleges are.

Joel:
You mentioned that you want to give back. Is there anything that you hope to gain from this experience?

Jenny:
I would love to know how my mentee is progressing in his/her career. Seeing them succeed would be great!

Joel:
Given your current position at PTC. You’ve been successful in your career thus far. Do you have any advice for people who are just about to enter the workforce?

Jenny:
Honestly, the number one advice I have is; Don’t let your diploma hold you back from applying for any job! There are plenty of people that I work with and find out that what they studied is entirely different from what they are doing; I know people who were psychology majors who are now project managers!

Along those lines, don’t ever think that you’re not qualified for a potential job – initially, I felt that I was really unqualified for the position at PTC when I applied, the person who had my current job was about 20 years older than me. It was really nerve-wracking initially, but you will never know until you try.

For more information about becoming a mentor with MentorWorks, click here.

About the Author

Sabrina Kite

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