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Outsourcing Management Analyst
Bo Lan's life philosophy is simple: Learn new things every day. Don't stay in your comfort zone. Don't miss the opportunity you deserve to fight the unknown.
It's a motto she's honed over decades of having no choice but to learn new things after losing her leg in a car accident as a child. And it's one she applies every day to her work at J.P. Morgan's Beijing office.
What does success look like to you?
My family is always my first priority. I want them to be happy and healthy and I always want to spend more time with them, especially my mom and my son. As for work, my goals are to support my colleagues the way they support me. I also push myself to improve my professional skills and pursue opportunities for career development.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mom. When I was nine years old I was hit by a bus on my way home from school. To save my life, the doctors had to amputate my left leg. I had four surgeries over the course of three years, with a long, painful period of rehabilitation after each surgery, and I lived in the hospital for almost three years. I couldn't go home to celebrate holidays with my family, and I didn't go to school for most of that time either.
At that time, I was reluctant to go outside. I didn't want to accept my new identity as a disabled person, and my mom helped me to overcome that and so many other difficulties I faced at that time. She kept telling me stories of disabled people who went on to do great things, like Helen Keller, who was the first deaf and blind person to get a college degree, or Beethoven, who composed some of his most famous and important work in the last ten years of his life, after he had lost his hearing.
My mom also got my teachers to record my classes for me and then I'd listen to them on my Walkman in the hospital. She encouraged me to face my condition and really helped me to overcome my challenges.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
My current manager has taught me to think more strategically. If there's a question I am trying to answer, I've learned to think about how that question fits into the larger process, and not just in isolation. She also taught me to focus on sorting out the root cause of every problem, and encouraged me to solve problems in a more sustainable manner. This has improved my professional skills, which not only helps me in my current work, but is helping me lay a solid foundation for my future. I feel very lucky to have such a good manager.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
As I mentioned previously, I am an amputee, so that was obviously a huge adjustment. But I am proud that I haven't let it stop me. Even though I lived in the hospital for nearly three years, I was able to catch up with my classmates and graduate on time.
Also, it was only after I became disabled that I learned how to swim. I hadn't want to learn how because I didn't want to challenge myself anymore, but my mom encouraged me, because she thought that swimming would make me stronger, not only in my body but also in my mind. I discovered I loved swimming, and eventually became a member of the Beijing disabled swimming team.
Because of my missing foot, it was difficult to keep my balance and swim properly, and my artificial leg would get in the way. During the learning process though, I witnessed other disabled athletes challenge themselves to break records. Slowly but surely, I started to gain confidence again and I felt encouraged and inspired by those around me. I wanted to prove that I was able to do these things, despite being disabled.
After a lot of practice, I started to compete at the national level. I trained for months before signing up for any major competitions. It was exhausting, because I still had to complete my school classes, but it paid off. As I got stronger in the pool, I started to rank higher in my divisions. I came in third place in the 200-meter freestyle at the National Championships and went on to compete in three other events, in one of which I set a personal best. I finished first place and won a gold medal in the 400 meter freestyle and 100 meter butterfly finals. I even won the Sports Morality Award for disabled swimmers. As a representative of outstanding athletes, I met with the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
I prefer to go to the office. I miss working with people face-to-face, and I think I am more efficient when I work there, because the Internet is better at my office.
What brings you joy?
In my spare time, I also joined the JP Morgan Volunteer Leadership Group, where I organized and participated in reading activities with hospitalized children with leukemia and cleft lip and palate. I know that books and caring can give more encouragement to sick children who have suffered from disaster and disease at a very young age, as I did. Those activities can help them overcome the negative impact of the disease.
I also enjoy participating in activities that raise awareness about the rights of people with disabilities. I have spoken at international disabilities forums and always stress that, regardless of our differences, we are all human. We need to emphasize the “person" instead of the “disability." I have not only accepted my differences, but I've also learned how to accept other people's differences.
Most of all, I feel happiest when I am with my family. My mom has Alzheimer's disease and I try to see her every week. She gave me so much love and support as a kid—she always stood behind me and helped me overcome the challenges I encountered. Now it's my time to pay that back.