Wendy Xu, from Square, forged her own path outside of her family’s expectations when she decided to pursue business over academia. Fortunately, her business career has allowed her to pursue one of her life’s passions - food. Her smart career advice: “Choosing a boss is just as important as choosing a job.”
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
WX: I studied biology in college and come from a science-focused family, so I initially thought I’d be going into academia. Towards the end of college, I found myself more drawn to the business world, and accepted a consulting job with Bain. Consulting was a great training ground, but like many consultants, I wanted to move from “advisor” to “operator” after a few years. I first joined Google’s hardware team and am now leading the operations team at Caviar, the food delivery company that was acquired by Square.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
WX: I am proud of our team at Caviar and what we’ve accomplished together. Food delivery is still a very nascent business, and there are so many operational challenges to overcome. Every day, we are solving new problems for our customers, restaurants, and couriers.
FGB: What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
WX: I went into the business world with minimal experience, academic training, and family background. When I told my parents that I wanted to go into consulting and not academia, I remember them telling me that there is very little they could do to help me. That didn’t deter me, and thankfully I was able to build a career from scratch.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
WX: I love to eat and travel! Especially given my work, I spend an exorbitant amount of time thinking about food. To balance out all that food, my husband and I adopted a dog 2 years ago, so we love doing things outdoors with him.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
WX: I’d want to eat something adventurous, so maybe Anthony Bourdain? Famous people seem like they’d have lots of dietary restrictions, which make for less fun dining companions :)
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
WX: I’m terrible at karaoke, but who doesn’t love Journey?
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
WX: No one favorite movie, but I like dark comedies and animated movies as genres (somewhat counterintuitive, I know).
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
WX: Some sort of fantasy series, maybe LOTR or Foundation. They’d keep me occupied for a while, and heavy books could be used as a weapon in self-defense.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
WX: I don’t really have a shopping vice, but the closest to it is food! If I won the lottery, I would love to pay down my parents’ mortgage and allow them to retire comfortably. Depending on the size of the prize, I may even be able to afford a single family home in San Francisco.
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
WX: I’ve had several great managers / mentors over the years. The common thread across all of them is that they pushed my development, even when it was uncomfortable. Your greatest learnings and accomplishments will come when you are stretched outside of your core strengths.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share?
WX: Work for people that are excited to invest in your development. Choosing a boss is just as important as choosing a job. I realized this early due to the nature of consulting, where you change bosses every few months.
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