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Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, HBA ’92: Stay humble. Stay grateful. Stay hungry

Sep 19, 2014


In the experience of Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, there are three words that are essential to live by for a successful career:

“Work hard – always.”

This simple advice is evident in all of her work.

Singh Cassidy is the Founder & Chairman of JOYUS, a shopping and lifestyle website, which she founded after holding a number of senior positions at a number of leading organizations, including Google, Amazon, and Polyvore.

Her career advice comes from her comments to this year’s incoming HBA students at their opening gala, the official kick off to the undergraduate program and the 24th anniversary of her first day of class at Ivey.

Her experience at Ivey mirrors that of her audience: hundreds of cases, presentations, 48-hour reports, and rapid, intense job recruiting. (Except with slower internet and without the distractions of text messages and Netflix.)

While practiced skills and textbook techniques are important to learn, they are not nearly as important as focusing on developing a good work ethic and a strong character, she explained.

“While you’re here to master these skills – there is one key thing to focus on – and that is character,” she said.

Here are the some of the ways Singh Cassidy encouraged students to develop their character through their HBA experience:

Work hard – always

“A big part of success is putting your nose down and getting the work done,” she said.

She encouraged students to ask questions, and not to be shy or afraid to participate if they feel they have the right answer. Similarly, in group work settings, she stressed the importance of carrying one’s weight.

“Do what you say you’re going to do. And then do some more.”

While she pressed the importance of pushing oneself to be the best, she also cautioned students not to get ahead of themselves. Success often comes with an ego boost, but ego does not make a leader; character does.

“Don’t be entitled,” she said. “Stay humble, stay grateful and hungry.”

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Be the expert

Ivey students are often celebrated for having such wide and expansive skillsets when they leave the School. This is great, said Singh Cassidy, but students still need “to take the time to know things deeply.”

“The number one way people get into leadership roles is by going deep and being revered for their specialty” she said.

She encouraged students to start looking for at least one thing they excel at early and practice that skill set infinitely. 

“Know your trademark strength and go where it is valued,” she said.

Create your own definition of perfection

In the last decade, Singh Cassidy has started her own business and has held many prominent roles, but this was not always the case.

She was not the first of her peers to get interviews with dream firms out of HBA or land that perfect summer internship. And that was a difficult pill to swallow.

“Don’t be jealous!” she pleaded. “Part of character is realizing happiness and success are not always tied.”

She explained how she watched some of her classmates achieve more than her, in and out of school, but had to accept that she couldn’t always win every competition, score highest on every test or lead every project. The important realization to make is that everyone cannot be measured on the same scale. Your perfect isn’t the same as someone else’s.

“Perfection looks like your best version of your best self, every day,” she said. “Make that your goal.”

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