Chief of Staff, Product Operations, YouTube
Knowing I have this network behind me, I feel pretty invincible. The Tuck community has always been a consistent source of strength and energy in my life.
By Adam Sylvain
For a self-professed tinkerer, adept at breaking down problems and galvanizing stakeholders, the entrepreneurial ethos of Silicon Valley has always been a natural fit for YouTube Chief of Staff/Product Operations Lucile Chung T’08. And she is not alone.
A growing number of Tuck alumni are making their way to the Bay Area—the region is home to the third-highest concentration of Tuck graduates in the world—although the paths they take to get there often vary. In Chung’s case, it was a zeal for strategy and problem-solving and a commitment to routinely asking herself
What value do I bring? and
What do I want to learn next? that led her to Google and eventually YouTube.
She says the chief of staff role is ideal for someone who excels at identifying problems, understanding what is behind them, and bringing stakeholders together to develop solutions. One example of this work is seen during YouTube’s annual planning process.
You’re working with leaders and different parts of the organization to understand tradeoffs and benefits—what are we saying ‘yes’ to and, conversely, what are we saying ‘no’ to, says Chung.
It’s all part of trying to build clarity and consensus around what our priorities are and what is the impact we want to create.
The opportunity to drive strategic decision-making has always been a goal for Chung. After earning an engineering degree at Cornell, she started her business career in strategy and operations at Capital One. From there, Chung joined the executive buying program at May Company (now known as Federated/ Macy’s Inc.) which offered valuable experience at the frontlines of retail operations. She learned a lot in those roles but craved the opportunity to have a broader impact.
I had tried working in two different sectors—finance and retail—and I could see that there were challenges to address, but my roles were narrowly scoped and I wasn’t always able to get at the root of the problem, says Chung.
I was putting out small fires and I knew I wanted to work toward a role where I could think more strategically and help solve business problems that were spanning multiple teams.
When she first stepped foot on campus, she says she experienced an immediate moment of clarity and a gut feeling that Tuck was the right MBA program for her. As consensus-building and conflict resolution has become increasingly important in her career, Chung considers the time spent with her study group at Tuck to be among her most formative learning experiences.
By bringing together classmates with such diverse backgrounds and experiences, it forces you to build those muscles in finding common ground and resolving differences, she says.
Prior to Tuck, I often felt like I could ignore some of those differences or get around them, but when I was there, I was really challenged to confront them head on which was critical.
After earning her MBA, Chung spent six years at McKinsey where she honed classic consulting skills in problem-solving and stakeholder management while also specializing in leadership training and organizational behavior. It was this well-rounded experience that opened the door at Google.
As someone who got her start at Google without an extensive background in tech, Chung urges MBA students seeking to work in the sector to take stock of the skills they can immediately bring to the table.
It is important to build on your strengths and understand that technology cuts through everything, she says.
Focus on where you can add value and use that to get a foot in the door. Then you can stretch your experience functionally.
Chung says one of the best parts of working at Google has been the opportunity to own her career path, which now spans nearly a decade with the company. Whether it was an interest in learning how Google engineering teams operate, a desire to have a broader impact on society in moments of crisis, or minimizing her commute to prioritize time with family, she has always been able to find a role and a team that fits her needs.
Having a supportive employer has been critical, but when it comes to managing the demands of life as a successful business leader and mother of four-year-old twins, Chung also frequently turns to her Tuck community. When she and her husband first moved to San Francisco, a T’08 classmate moved down the hall in their apartment building, and during the pandemic, Chung joined a group of alumni on every-other-week Zoom calls. More recently, she has met several new hires at Google that share the Tuck connection. She is also active in three different Tuck-related group chats—one for moms in the Bay Area, one for her T’08 classmates, and another for alumni at Google and YouTube. Remarkably, Chung also finds time to serve as a member of the Tuck MBA Council.
This coveted network has shown up for her in practical ways, but most often, she says the community is simply there to cheer each other on and lift each other up.
Knowing I have this network behind me, I feel pretty invincible, Chung says.
The Tuck community has always been a consistent source of strength and energy in my life.
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