A discussion with Sylvia Ng
Written by: Chloe Corona Yan
Photography by: Carl Solis
To Sylvia Ng, insights are a needle in a haystack. It’s a treasure hunt, where you look at what’s in front of you and find interesting tidbits within. When you find something, it’s exciting. Insights not only validate and create opportunities, but they guide decision making to stimulate growth. It’s a game of what’s working and what’s not. As the former VP of Growth and Product at 500 Pixels, it’s safe to say, Ng has found her calling.
Starting out at the University of Waterloo, Ng sparked her interest for analytics during her student internships. She was interested in how data analysis could drive the success of campaigns. Working her way through school, Ng began consulting in the IT space after graduation, which organically led her back to analytics.
“The interest to build things, look at and find insights - to me, it’s like a treasure hunt you have a bunch of stuff in front of you and you’re trying to find that treasure within. What always excites me is finding those insights.”
Consulting for telecoms like Bell and Rogers, Ng fell fast into the world of corporate analytics. As Ng got results, corporations started watching. Before she realized it, Ng was consulting on Google’s growth team. Diving further into the behaviour of Google’s user ecosystem, Ng realized that her love for marketing analytics spread into products as well.
After meeting with Andy, the CEO of 500px, Ng decided to make the leap into a balance of marketing and product growth. With all of her talents combined, Ng’s passions lent nicely into her role today.
When it comes to tech based companies, marketing and product are never black and white. Each task has its challenges, every day is always different. There are frameworks, but determining the best growth strategies can be tricky. If you think about the erratic behaviour of online users, some data is hard to explain.
“There is no one size fits all, so whatever worked for me… probably will not be applicable to whoever is reading this… the framework of how you look at it is probably very similar but what you end up doing is very different,” says Sylvia.
Main takeaway? Adapt. Every business is different, and so is every user base.
When you’re immersed in everyday tasks, it’s easy to lose sight of the life outside work. Ng admits that her biggest failure has been balance. As a working mom, Ng rarely catches a break, leading to inevitable burnout.
Reassuringly, Ng doesn’t let that stop her. She says that it’s common amongst working moms. Although balance is something to work on, eventually it will all fall into place.
To Sylvia, success is simple - meeting her personal goals and helping others reach their own. On a more personal note, Ng tells us that raising good kids is a huge part of how she sees her success.
For anyone interested in being in Ng’s position, Ng shares her two pieces of advice:
1) Know what you want. Check that you actually do want to be Sylvia Ng.
“I think a lot of people come to me with this vision of a career or success but they don’t know what that means to them. A lot of them just want to climb the corporate ladder or have a title of some sort. But for the most part when they dig deep, a lot of people don’t know what that means. What problems are you trying to solve in the world and what do you want your life to accomplish?”
2) The next step is all you need to know. Even if you’re climbing Mount Everest, you only need to focus on your next stop. Taking the next step brings you forward, even if you didn’t know what it was.
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