Title: People Science Senior Consultant

Residence: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Hometown: Jeju Island, South Korea

Ia Ko’s hometown on South Korea’s Jeju Island sounds like a place you’d never want to leave. 

“It’s where people go for a honeymoon or vacation in Korea,” she says. “I could see mountains and the ocean from the rooftop of our house.”

In fact, she left for a surprising reason: The pursuit of happiness. 

Growing up, she was fascinated by the lives of working adults and watched her parents work 18 hours a day, seven days a week as small business owners. They encouraged her to follow in their footsteps, but she respectfully voted herself off the island. “I pursued what made me happy,” she says, “studying psychology and e-commerce, and then leaving my country to explore the world.”

Today her passion is the perfect match for Glint’s People Science team—helping people be happier and more successful at work. She brings more than a decade of experience as a researcher and psychologist guiding high-performance organizations to reach even higher. 

Learn more about Ia’s work and life:

Work

What’s your motivation for doing what you do? One day I heard someone at a conference say, “Life is a sum of experiences. If we can improve each experience, we can improve our lives.’‘ That resonated with me so much and eventually led me to study happiness and flow at work. Since then I have been quite obsessed with this space. I’m currently focused on helping build People Success habits and mindsets by enabling our clients and their employees to have meaningful conversations about their growth and development. I truly believe that our products and services can make a huge difference in how people think about their growth and realize their potential.

Any career goals you’re working toward? I have a personal and professional dream to make the world a better place for the next generation. I’m constantly trying to create experiences for myself where I can learn, connect with people who can help me think better, and create time to reflect.

What has been a big learning moment in your career? I’ve had to learn that it’s OK to ask for help. In my childhood and through my early career, I took pride in being the hardest-working person in the room and tried to do it all without asking for help. I thought that meant strength. But thanks to other people who taught me and a few tough experiences, I learned that asking for help doesn’t mean I am weak or that I’m disappointing others … or myself. It might actually mean I am strong enough to admit where and when I need help.

What’s your top tip? Start doing things and try to learn from it. Fight the urge to overthink or over plan. I surely do appreciate thoughtful plans. But life is full of surprises, and it’s unrealistic to think you can plan for all those moving pieces. I love a “good enough” plan that gets to live a dynamic life of its own.

Life

What was your first job? I played music for weddings as a kid. I think that made me absolutely not love big, cookie-cutter weddings. 

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? I try to stick to two but often drink five or six. 

Aside from coffee, do you have a hidden source of power? Fun fact: my family descended from one of three demigods who emerged from the ground to become the founding fathers of the Tamna (“island country”) Kingdom. 

What do you like to do outside of work? Given everything that’s happening right now (I’m writing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic), my work and “outside of work” lines are very blurry. Looking at the bright side, I am genuinely grateful for the time to connect with my family during this time and actually get to do what I enjoy doing—playing music and reading with my son.

Connect with Ia on LinkedIn.