Nayla Rizk '80 Advises M.Eng. Students on Navigating Their Careers
During her early career as an Operations Research Analyst at Chevron, and in later roles at McKinsey and Network Equipment Technologies, Nayla Rizk '80 was not especially attracted to "headhunting," she told the Enterprise Engineering Colloquium. "I didn't know I liked doing executive search until I tried it," she said.
Now she is a partner at Spencer Stuart, a top executive search firm, and works to find senior executives and board members for technology, communications, media and private equity backed companies.
Based on her broad experience and familiarity with successful high level executives, Rizk provided many tips and techniques for developing and excelling in a career. Among her memorable insights was an admonition to "fish where the fish are", noting that "the financial services market is shrinking" while other markets, particularly technology, are growing.
She advised students to understand their own preferences and seek an appropriate balance among compensation, job satisfaction and lifestyle. "Always listen to your gut," she urged.
As part of a job search, "join LinkedIn, google yourself, and improve your personal search engine optimization by creating a positive, professional online presence," Rizk recommended - and "understand Facebook privacy settings."
Rizk talked about preparing for an interview, going beyond anticipating the "usual questions" to "making yourself the solution" to a problem the company is trying to solve. She identified glassdoor.com as a web site for learning about the culture of companies, and recommended getting to know people currently and previously at the company and researching the background of the people who will be conducting the interview.
Rizk, who grew up in Beirut Lebanon and speaks French, Arabic and Spanish as well as English, noted that her company interviews "lots of people for whom English is a second language - it doesn't matter" as long as they can express themselves and "have a meaningful conversation."
Once employed, "develop a quality reputation" by "paying your dues, seeking out challenges, filling voids, and adding value," she said. Rizk closed her talk by tracing sample careers of several executives, all Cornell alums including ORIE graduate Kristen Gil, Vice President, Business Operations & Strategy at Google.