Ariel Poser, an R&D engineer at PepsiCo, has learned to embrace the unknown in her career. Check out her profile below to learn how this mindset has helped her find her grey, and how it can help you, too:

How did you find your grey?

My first job out of college was at PepsiCo, where I started working as an Engineer in the equipment development group. I was lucky enough to have an amazing mentor and manager who pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to continue learning. During my time at PepsiCo, I found my inner curiosity and had the ability to challenge myself and learn something new every day.

Last May I was offered the opportunity to relocate to Shanghai for six months for the PepsiCo Global R&D Talent Rotation Program. My time in Shanghai was a whirlwind full of new opportunities, constant learning, challenges, growth and exploration.

For anyone who knows me well, they were probably surprised when I told them I was picking up and moving to Shanghai for work. In my personal life, I prefer to stay inside my comfort zone. But since developing my career I have grown tremendously. I have developed a more outgoing, ambitious, and adventurous personality.  I saw Shanghai as a chance to step outside my comfort zone, to challenge myself both personally and professionally while being immersed in a new culture. Here are some of the key lessons I learned and will take with me throughout my life:

  1. Follow your passions
  2. Always be adaptable
  3. Be open to other cultures. Take the time to respect and understand new cultures both from a personal and professional setting
  4. Embrace every new experience
  5. Take time to find the positives in life. Know yourself and what makes you happy

What motivates you to grow and do great work?

I often ask myself what fuels my passion for work, and why was I willing to move across the world for a new opportunity. I believe the answer is my curiosity and eagerness to learn something new and embrace the unknown. I am also motivated and supported by PepsiCo’s amazing work culture and talented colleagues.

How do you blend personal and professional?

Last May when I was presented with an offer to relocate to Shanghai, the initial thoughts running through my head were: excitement and fear. This opportunity was far outside my comfort zone, but ultimately I accepted it and ran!I was stepping outside my personal comfort zone by moving and my professional comfort zone by taking a role in a new field.

I was now working on another side of the business, in an international market; the learning curve was steep; but this is what kept me motivated! I was eager to learn about snacks, product development and the Chinese business. Even though I was working for the same company, the work culture in China is very different from New York, and I had to take the time to truly understand how things were done here. This role allowed me to develop my technical skills and leadership skills, while learning the importance of communicating across cultures. In business it is important to respect everyone, and see everyone as a teacher.

Outside of the office I embraced every opportunity possible to explore Shanghai and travel in China, feeding my curious soul. Shanghai is a dynamic and fast paced city with so much to offer. During my first few days I remember being impressed by the energy of the people in Shanghai, the crowds and the difference in the areas around the city. There are many wonderful sights to see such as the Bund, Yu Yan Gardens, French Concession, TianziFang, Jing’an Temple and more! Once I felt settled I really began to explore the city beyond the tourist sights. I would spend the weekends visiting museums, walking around local markets and neighborhoods, meeting new people, getting massages (yes they are really cheap here!), and taking in the culture. I had the opportunity to meet many new people from Shanghai and all over the world.

What is your favorite part of your work?

My favorite part of work is being challenged! I am an engineer by degree, and really enjoy technical projects. I also enjoy working on a cross functional team that involved both the technical and business aspects. Seeing the power of colleagues from all over the world and different areas of expertise come together to deliver a project is a great experience.

How did you become qualified enough to do what you love?

If you think of qualified in the traditional sense, I do not think I was ever “qualified” enough to do a specific job I was given from the start. For me knowing that I am qualified to do a role means that it will require me to develop a new skill, be challenged and work with new teams. If you have the ability to learn, grow and adapt you can make yourself qualified for almost any role! It’s important not to limit yourself, believe in your own abilities and develop a network of mentors, colleagues and friends who believe in you enough to help push you!

How has your work helped you live a more fulfilled life?

I wake up every day excited to go to work and interact with other people. The fact that I am energized and enthusiastic about work makes my overall life more fulfilled. Through my experiences at work I have developed a more outgoing personality which helps all aspects of my life.

What’s one thing you do every morning to get ready for the day?

I try to always have a glass of lemon water while checking my scheduled for the day, and tune into the first few minutes of the Today Show.

What are three things you try to do everyday?

Read or listen to the news, take time for myself, have fun

What do you wish you had known at the outset of your career?

That your career is in your hands. It is up to you to define what opportunities, skills and experiences you want.

Also, the importance of being open to others’ feedback.

What advice do you have for someone seeking mentorship and to build their network?

Do not be shy! If there is someone you want to connect with reach out. In today’s busy world, there are many people willing to help, mentor and share their experience you just need to approach them. Always be appreciative of everyone’s time, and remember to give back to others in your network.

What advice do you have for beginners in your industry specifically?

It is important to understand not only your industry and role but all of the key areas and stakeholders that your work impacts. The more you understand and learn, the better positioned you are to deliver a successful product, service or process.

Do you have a motto?

Embrace your curiosity

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

Never stop learning.

You can learn more about Ariel on LinkedIn and connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.

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