Andy Tien has recently joined ArcVida’s team of professional mentors, bringing a wealth of business and mentoring experience. Currently the VP of Marketing for Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union, Andy explains the importance of career mentoring this way: “For most people, a career is a person's greatest asset because if you multiply earnings over the course of a lifetime, it’s often worth more than any physical possession. You need to treat your career with a lot of care.” He has experienced first-hand just how much a good mentor can provide the right guidance.
Born in Vietnam and the son of Chinese parents, he and his family immigrated to America as boat refugees after the Vietnam war. Andy grew up in East L.A. and in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County and became the first in his family to go to college. “There was no defined path for me,” he says. “There were no corporate executives or alumni for me to talk to. My parents were new to the country and worked all the time to put food on the table, so I didn’t have external guidance or connections to help get ahead in life.”
Attending a university was his and his parents’ goal, so he studied hard in high school. He also focused on being well-rounded by joining the track, cross-country, and basketball teams. “I didn't want to be labeled into any particular category."
He attended University of Southern California (USC), where he developed a passion for marketing after participating in a General Motors internship in which students worked in teams to promote a car dealership. “I realized that marketing was a career that I could really sink my teeth into,” he says.
But once he graduated, he initially had a hard time finding a marketing job. His parents had instilled in him the idea that if he “followed the formula” of studying hard and going to college, it would all work out. He didn’t realize that he needed to continue to learn and that in many ways, the learning process had just begun. He also didn’t fully understand the importance of building relationships and networking.
“I learned that a good degree alone is not enough, which was a harsh lesson,” he says.
After a few years of progressive marketing roles at a tech company and then pivoting into the financial services industry, Andy returned to USC to earn his MBA. It was during that time that he developed a relationship with his first mentor, someone he had seen speak at an industry event.
Being mentored by someone who’d found success in the same field gave him confidence. “I had someone in my corner, someone who understood my industry and the importance of my function.” The mentor helped him see the big picture of his career and referred him to opportunities, and he began to advance.
Andy has made it part of his mission to give back to the community in which he grew up, and he serves as a board member for El Monte Promise Foundation. This nonprofit organization helps create a college-going culture and promotes financial literacy in the city of El Monte and surrounding underserved communities.
Andy also launched a student-run credit union branch inside John Muir High School in an underserved part of Pasadena, which is entirely run by students. The students who run the banking branch get valuable work experience, career guidance, and financial education that they wouldn't get otherwise. “One of my big mantras is about the importance of financial literacy, which is an important life skill but isn't always taught in schools or at home,” he says. “There are generations of folks who had to learn about personal finance through trial and error and are still struggling financially.”
Andy is grateful to be in a fulfilling career where he can drive organizational growth, have a positive impact on communities, and serve as a role model.
He’s excited to mentor with ArcVida because he understands the value of early career guidance. “It’s about being prepared before the right opportunity comes along,” he says. “The right mentor can save someone time and anguish and help them make strategic career decisions.
When he’s not working or volunteering, Andy enjoys public speaking, reading, mountain biking, and traveling. He’s traveled extensively throughout North America, Asia, Mexico, Europe, and Australia regions.
Published on 4/29/2019