Sheryl Chong on a StratOps traineeship filled with empathy, data and culture

Published June 18, 2021   |   
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In my 6 months as a Strategic Operations trainee at Crayon Data, I would not be exaggerating if I said that every day was a learning experience. My entire team was kind with their teachings, generous in their support and exceptional in the camaraderie we shared.  

Before I dive deep into my three main takeaways, I would first like to give a huge thanks to these Crayons. To my boss, Anissa Wong, for always having my back and being open to suggestions. I’ll never forget how she taught me the importance of planning and writing more concisely. Sayan Dutta, for being patient in guiding my thought process and trusting me to be a point of contact for all OKR related issues. Vaishnavi J, for welcoming me warmly. I had much to learn from your enthusiasm and positivity. I was able to apply these experiences even in the bleakest of situations.  

I haven’t forgotten the others I collaborated with, especially the Marketing and People Team! They gave me many pointers and advice through all the projects we undertook.

Now, condensing all my learnings from Crayons into three takeaways. 

1. Empathy is key 

When I first came to Crayon, I got frustrated at how meetings could never start before 12.30 PM SGT. I learnt the hard way by having to move around several meetings. However, I soon realized that many Crayons were working mothers. The time difference between Singapore and India meant that these Crayons were busy settling their kids into school or breakfast before starting work. Once I understood this, work could be done much faster and better. Once one adapts to the way the clock ticks in Crayon, it gives others a chance to balance work and life. This led to deadlines being met, less pushing and more learning. Empathy is key to getting the job done.  

I later then learnt that empathy is also the foundation of all problem solving. I learnt from my mentor Sayan that when solving a problem, one should never ask for a solution. A more efficient approach would be to put yourself in the shoes of the person facing the issue. That way, you’ll be able to understand their pain points. It is only when you know what truly irritates or annoys someone that you will be able to come up with a solution.  

2. Think data, craft experiences

This was the first Crayon Value that stuck out to me because of its peculiarity. It was later, through several data analyses for Onboarding Improvement, Performance Management Overhaul and MS Teams Usage Improvement Initiative projects that I realized why it is important.   

Data analysis ensures that there is a legitimate reason behind the plans we make. This ultimately leads to less time spent convincing others that the solution is right, and more time spent on getting things done.  

3. The start-up culture

This culture is something that everyone should experience. It’s something I am extremely grateful to have gone through first-hand. Some people might say that you never really learn anything specific in a start-up. However, I chose to see it as an opportunity to learn a bit of everything that happens in an organization. In line with my first point about empathy, having tried a bit of everything in Crayon from the People Team to the Sales Team, I can understand and better relate to those in other functions now. This, I believe, has put me in a better position to work more efficiently with other functions going forward.  

The start-up culture has also taught me that when it comes to the workplace, beautiful friendships can be formed when you learn to trust. Trust that your team has your back. Trust that you can express your blockers or fears, and that the team will solve them together. To all in Crayon whom I trust, thank you for this wonderful journey and for enabling me to call Crayon my second family. I will never forget the life lessons, and Indian values and culture I’ve learnt.