Bruce Gao

University of Calgary. Major: Honours Neuroscience

Bruce Gao is 19 years old and is studying Neuroscience under the inaugural Schulich Leader Award – the Canadian equivalent to the Rhodes Scholarship. He is the Co-Founder of SimplySolar, an award winning tech startup that optimizes solar panels with phones. Born and raised in Calgary, he is a fluent public speaker who has presented to a diverse variety of people including students, venture capitalists and over forty university presidents in energy, entrepreneurial and education related topics.

We asked Bruce:

The OGM: As you embark on your career path, how important is the culture of the organization you choose?

Bruce: Probably one of the most important factors in an organization – a shared set of values and vision goes a long way.

The OGM: Describe the impact work flexibility will have on your career path.

Bruce: I want to create my own job. Part of it is because I want to make my own schedule as flexible as possible.

The OGM: What does a strong cohesive, team-oriented culture at work mean to you?

Bruce: It’s solid and hard to topple. Like a Jenga tower reinforced by steel and forged in the fires of 1000 Dwarven furnaces.

The OGM: Is a transparent work environment in regards to compensation, rewards and career development important to you? If so, why?

Bruce: This is very important. Without transparency, work is like a house with no windows. Not comfortable at all.

The OGM: How does technology impact your day-to-day?

Bruce: I program in multiple languages and have my laptop, phone or desktop with me all the time. Seriously, technology makes the world go round.

The OGM: What does the phrase, ‘sense of community’ mean to you?

Bruce: It means mission accomplished.

The OGM: Are acknowledgment and support an integral component to your career needs? If so, how?

Bruce: Yes. Successes and accomplishments should be celebrated with enthusiasm.

The OGM: Tell us about a struggle you faced when transitioning into the workforce?

Bruce: I am currently a full time student, however, as the co-founder of SimplySolar (www.simplysolar.me), maintaining solid communication between team members was often difficult (especially if your team gets accepted to different universities around the world).

The OGM: For other students just figuring things out, what words of encouragement would you offer?

Bruce: I learned this from my good friend Ryan. He said that “you don’t have to see the entire staircase to take the first step”. Really. Just work on your ideas, not matter how foolish they seem at first.

The OGM: Did you always know what you wanted to do?

Bruce: No. I still don’t.

The OGM: Where does/would your sense of satisfaction come from at work?

Bruce: Definitely from seeing other people use what I created because they find value in it.

The OGM: How important are further education and training to your career development?

Bruce: Only somewhat important. Education is a solid foundation, but birds can’t learn to fly by staying on the ground forever.

The OGM: How did you differentiate yourself in the workplace as a Millennial?

Bruce: “Hey guys, check this app that improves solar panels by 40% out! By the way, I’m 19.”

The OGM: If you could be stuck in an elevator with anybody, who would it be?

Bruce: Elon Musk.

The OGM: Did you pursue University right after high school?

Bruce: Yes.

The OGM: Will/Did your University program play a role in your career path? If not, why?

Bruce: I am majoring in Neuroscience and to be honest, no. I took this major to originally get into medical school, but it seems like that I am doing more engineering than neuroscience-ing.

The OGM: What are the three most important aspects you feel an organization should offer to retain a Millennial?

Bruce: Acknowledgement, support, positive work culture and free coffee.

The OGM: Describe your ideal organization, one that you could grow and develop your career in?

Bruce: Unlimited opportunity, a chance to be Bruce and a strong shared vision.

The OGM: From a scale of 1 to 10 how important are the following: incentives and rewards, compensation, training and development, global opportunities? 1 being least important.

Bruce: I literally think they are all important… They don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Incentives and rewards 10

Compensation 10

Training and development 10

Global opportunities 10

The OGM: Tell us about your most memorable achievement or milestone thus far?

Bruce: Representing fellow students as a Changemaker at the Student Energy conference in Norway!


Tina Olivero

Tina Olivero

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