Stephen is a Project Manager, APAC-SEA, Indonesia, at TikTok. Previously a Project Manager at Shopee.
1) To kickstart, could you share about your current role, what the company does and a bit about your career background?
Hi! First of all, thank you, Marcella, for this wonderful opportunity at The Growth Room, a very cool project and humbled to be featured in one of your episodes! My name is Stephen. I'm currently taking on the project manager role at TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile video. It is also a place where we inspire creativity and bring joy, both to our users and business partners. My main scope of work is to partner with brands to create brand magic through Hashtag Challenges and Branded Effects! Before this role, I was a project manager in Shopee, handling our in-platform ad solutions, Shopee Ads, to drive revenue through CRM frameworks, fruitful internal and external partnerships and as well as optimizing other growth initiatives.
2) Can you describe what your typical workday looks like?
I would typically start my day (definitely with a cup of coffee) answering queries coming in from clients through multiple mediums. Then, I start combing through our internal chat platform to see whether there are people reaching out for help to speed up their issues. Before I go for lunch break, I continue to do deep work on my self-driven initiatives . After my lunch, usually the schedules are packed! I would grab the second cup of coffee before going for internal and external meetings for alignments, campaign updates/reports or product office hours. After all of the meetings are done, I would still dedicate a part of my time to think and develop other initiatives to help and equip cross-function and internal team members with relevant insights on execution excellences and market best practices. After all the work is done, I would either go for a short run or badminton session with my friends. This break routine helps me to cool down and prepare myself for a good night's sleep.
3) What does personal growth mean to you?
It used to be those grand achievements, stellar stepping stones, and impressive improvements for me, but when the pandemic hit, things changed. Right now, personal growth to me is as simple as making little progressive sparks towards a positive goal/destination. It does not have to be those huge wow-things, as long as you know where you are heading, pacing in the right lane, and keep on practicing those continuous humble learnings to achieve it, you are doing your part of personal growth. If you are a fan of learning something new, learn something new that would benefit you. If you're a fan of being a specialist in your preferred area of expertise, then continue to show excellence in it, then you will be the best among the best.
4) Is there a habit you consciously exercise to ensure you achieve your ideal personal growth?
I'm starting to pick up podcasts for me to gain broader insights on things. It is an amazing platform to learn about fresh perspectives, and to learn directly from people who are not only experts in their area. but also to learn from their humble drawbacks and learning opportunities. When future issues arise, we at least have a gist on how to deal with and speed up this. Not only listening to podcasts. I love to evaluate myself on time, be it quarterly, biannually or even annually. The areas covered would be very simple but I think are very effective, just by answering these 3 simple questions:
How are you different from Stephen from the previous review cycle?
Are there any other notable learnings and/or valuable insights you could use in the future?
What are the next steps to expand your horizons?
One other tip I would recommend and still constantly exercise to achieve your ideal personal growth, is to connect (yes, you read that right, reach out to people!) I never thought networking or connecting with inspiring people to mentor you or even just over a one-time talk would bring so many benefits to you! Quick tip on reaching out to people for this: before asking them for a huge favor of their precious time, be sure you prepare yourself to offer something nice in return. Expect a two-way conversation and not a lecture from them!
5) What does it mean to grow in your career? How do you measure your career growth?
Many would measure growth as title changes or benefits increments. While it's not entirely false, career growth can be defined as the "step-up" process to take on more responsibility. Titles can change, team structure can change, but it does not define one who has achieved their career growth. However, when you feel like your responsibilities shift, from doing 1 thing at a time, to handling multiple things at once for the greater good of things, that's growth Another simple indicator of growth would also be efficiency. If you usually need a longer period of time finishing simple tasks, and if now you can finish it in a more timely manner (+ if you could deliver extra mile and add on their added-value), you are in the rocketship of your own career growth flight!
6) Aside from your full-time job, is there anything else you like to do outside work?
I'm starting to pick up badminton again because it is a fun and rewarding sport. You can both have fun playing with your friends while exercising! It always has a special place in my heart, so reliving that spark within me excites me the most! Aside from sports, I love to look for new food in town and also new cool attractions and places with my friends. Being the social butterfly in the group somehow forced me to always go out exploring new things.
7) Are there any books, podcasts or apps that have been helpful for your growth?
My all time favorite Indonesian podcast would be Thirty Days of Lunch by Fellexandro Ruby and Ario Pratomo. They have such a humble and sincere beginning which resonates with me so well, especially when delivering complex and unfamiliar topics to their audiences. Definitely a must-have recommendation. The TedTalk channel on YouTube also helps me to understand broader views on things. This is also highly recommended if you like short, compact-size bits on inspiring topics.
8) Any tips you’d like to share for those who are looking to venture into similar roles?
One should master the art of compassion to be a project manager. The more compassionate you are, the better you are as a project manager. You need to know that different interests/concerns/needs do exist, and you need to be compassionate enough to match these different dynamics into achieving the greater goal. Aside from being compassionate, the hunger and humble willingness to always constantly learn and improve is also essential. While you need to be very highly skilled about the projects you are entrusted with, you also need to be humble, to be open to learning new things–either to improve your projects or to improve your way of executing the projects well.
9) Finally, what is the one quote you always live by?
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7
TikTok is always hiring!
Scroll to TikTok's career platform and shoot your best shot on our great mission to inspire creativity and bring joy.
Before you go...
Have you been inspired by someone's growth journey recently? Nominate them (or perhaps yourself) to be featured in The Growth Room!
We're always on the lookout to grow for the better. If you have any kind words of encouragement to share, please share your feedback with us.
Lastly, we wanted to thank you for spending a few minutes of your day here at The Growth Room. Just a reminder that you are appreciated *hugs*.