Lena Klein TC'13
At the age of just 15, Lena began to understand the power of communication through online channels, when she noticed some of her younger TC peers watching her self-made YouTube clips during their lunch break. Coupled with her love of art and storytelling, Lena set about growing her Instagram, Podcast and Patreon followers, allowing her to share her life experiences and creativity with the world.
Question and Answer with Lena Klein TC'13
What has your professional journey been since completing school?
I wonder which of my three lives to begin with! To summarize, I’m currently a coach-consultant-creative. Each of those aspects of my career has a different backstory and steps I needed to take to get there, so funnily enough it sometimes feel like my life is a young adult novel with each chapter told by a rotating cast of characters. Somehow, it all meshes together!
I started making YouTube videos when I was around fifteen, and I remember in the last years of my time at Toorak that some of the girls in younger years were watching my videos in their lunch breaks. That was really lovely – since then I’ve grown my Instagram audience to over 12,000 and frequently post original art and travel photos, and I’m also a contributor on the Try Channel, an Irish entertainment platform with over 900,000 subscribers. I leveraged those audiences to secure multiple speaking opportunities for myself – about my life and experiences and the lessons I’ve learnt so far. I’ve done live and podcast appearances, and after sharing my personal story more I’ve gained a little traction. Just this week I was invited to join a start-up designed to empower college students and young career professionals in creating stronger personal brands, better LinkedIn Profiles, and becoming more employable. If you’re interested, you can find a list of some of my appearances here: https://lenaklein.com/featured/. So that’s the coach avenue!
The Consultant branch is what you would call my full-time career. I work in Dublin, the European Silicone Valley, for LinkedIn. I’m just minutes away from the European headquarters of LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, Udemy, TikTok, and more. During my masters in Digital Marketing, I was working as a consultant for multiple start-ups, and after graduating, I joined LinkedIn through the Business Leadership Program. The BLP, as it’s known, is a rotational graduate scheme designed to shape people into future leaders and sales professionals. This last year, I’ve been consulting for companies on their learning strategies, and showing them how LinkedIn Learning can help bridge skills gaps. It’s an incredible product, but I was recently offered another role at Zendesk, which I’ll be moving into in the next month. I’m excited to see where it takes me.
The creative part is really just a lot of fun – I’m creating a podcast about strange dreams I’ve had, I publish original art online (I paid my rent during a whole year of my undergrad exclusively through online content sharing platform, Patreon!) and I’m hoping to start selling custom paintings of pets soon. I think everyone needs loves outside of their careers, it is something I recently spoke about on a podcast, and staying creative is something I’m very passionate about.
What do you most like about your job? Why this industry?
On paper, I work in sales. But there’s a lot more to it – I work in the tech field, which is fascinating, fast paced and constantly changing, and I help businesses solve real problems. The products I sell improve the lives of those who use them – at LinkedIn, each time I’m successful, someone gains access to learning. At Zendesk, I’ll be helping growing companies improve their customer support strategies (and ensuring customers – like you – have a better time buying things online!).
I get to speak to people from all walks of life on a daily basis – interns, CEO’s, astronauts (no, really), government officials – people who are facing problems I potentially have the solution to. And that’s a really thrilling, privileged position to be in.
I also really love teaching and connecting with people, so coaching is something I feel intrinsically drawn to.
What has surprised you about your industry?
Everyone knows everyone! We were told during our masters that our classmates would become our network, and I can’t stress how true that is. My friends work at Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Docusign, Udemy, TikTok – everyone in tech seems to run into each other at brunch, and everyone seems to work for each company at some point. The whole thing feels like a continuation of college: I go to work in jeans, speak to amazing people, and feel constantly surrounded by friends.
Tech attracts a certain kind of chaotic, entrepreneurial energy, and I love it. That’s not to say it’s always easy – it’s definitely a hard work, high risk, high reward environment. You can’t be successful if you decide to cruise through your days in the office.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your old TC friends/teachers?
Each time I’m back in Australia I try and hunt down Deborah Page, my old English teacher. I went through a rough time as a teenager, and only really found myself as an adult. She was someone who constantly encouraged and supported me. Unfortunately, I’m only ever in Australia for a few weeks at a time, so scheduling has been difficult, but I hold her in my heart and think about her a lot.
I do stay in touch with some of my fellow Toorak girls as well – we speak over Instagram and video chats and I’m always blown away by the different paths they’ve taken and how well they’re doing. It really shows that if you have a solid foundation you can grow in whichever direction you like, and Toorak did a fantastic job of providing us with that. I keep hoping that one day I can schedule my annual trip back to Australia to coincide with a reunion!
Did your time at TC inspire you to be the person you are today? Did it inspire you to follow your career dreams? How so?
I definitely think that joining Toorak College in grade nine, after being bullied out of my old school, changed my trajectory. I had terrible depression and anxiety when I arrived, and within a few years I had solid friendships, was doing well in my studies, and was even elected to be the deputy prefect for Mayfield (Although, in hindsight, I definitely think I could have done a better job!).
Being part of the Toorak community, I felt very lucky. I didn’t become the person I am today until a few years after graduating, but I was inspired by my Toorak peers to work hard – it was an environment in which trying your best was really valued, and that instilled very powerful lessons in me.
I loved walking through those beautiful buildings and gardens, and I’ll never forget the empathy, humour, and determination of those who taught me.
What are your aspirations/plans for the future?
My five year plan is to really understand the sales cycle: I want to keep working in tech and learn about all the pieces you need to keep a business healthy and growing, and sales is the backbone of success.
I can definitely see myself staying in the corporate world. It’s exciting to feel like you’re a part of something bigger, and I love the strategy, innovation, and critical thinking that it requires. I never studied business specifically, I’m rubbish at maths, and I’m not what you’d consider a traditional business person: but I bring all of myself to work, and sometimes coming from a different background means I can see things in a different, advantageous light. It also means that I’m constantly learning: and there’s not much I love more than that.
Ultimately, I want to become an Author and a university Lecturer. I’d love to take a week or two out of my career a year to teach a module to students, I’d love to speak publicly, and I love the idea of connecting with others.