Mentor Spotlight: Christopher Leung

Mentor Spotlight

To summarize Chris's career journey in one line: Business & Aviation Degree -> Business Analyst (worked in NYC, LDN, CHI) -> Sales Trading -> Expansion @ Ritual (launched 6 markets and introduced new in-market operating structure globally) -> Partnerships @ Bonsai (launched 2 new lines of business and built our largest strategic deals) -> GTM Professor @ College (bridging the gap between business and non-business graduates), Founder @ Lighthouse Advisory (Revenue strategy for growth stage companies that increase net margin), Small Business Owner (Soon to be Laundromat owner)

Where are you currently located?

📍 Toronto, Canada

Career Pivots

How did you identify what types of roles you were interested in pursuing?

I really enjoyed being a sales trader but I didn’t see an exciting growth path, the job itself is focused on more depth instead of breadth as seniority grows.

I wanted to do something more tangible and “grass roots” but not SO early stage/high risk that going concern was an issue; tech companies were all the rage at that time with “disruption” being the top tier buzzword.

What was your experience at Ritual like?

Currently a Series C stage company, Ritual was founded in 2014 in Toronto. It is a social ordering app that taps networks of co-workers and colleagues for fast and easy pick up and pay at a variety of restaurants and coffee shops.

Ritual was probably the most unique experience I’ll ever have - it would be incredibly difficult (statistically) to emulate that type of growth (60 to 450 people and 3 cities to 7 countries in ~2.5yrs). The best lessons I took away were the importance of: people for success, diversification for defensibility, and grittiness for exponential growth.

Launching new markets aggressively forced me to learn how to adapt. There’s a famous quote, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, and launching new markets was very similar. The second we hit a new market all the playbooks, projections, and precedent evaporated and we were forced to constantly evolve our plan to win. This made us really good at quickly aggregating, rationalizing, and then incorporating new information to make sure each market was a success!

What was your experience like at Bonsai?

Bonsai is a Series A e-commerce startup that allows users to transact natively while browsing content online.

Bonsai was the smallest company I’d ever worked for up to that point. My experience at Ritual and being in the tech scene gave me the confidence to move to a much smaller/earlier organization. Bonsai was an incredible experience where we were able to create an environment punching significantly above our weight class - we took major institutional business away from our competitors.

What are you up to now?

I currently have 3 main lines of work:

  1. Revenue Advisory - I help Pre-Seed to Series A companies make more money without massively increasing their operating costs; aka. How do we grow our sales and keep more money in our pocket?
  2. Professor - I teach Go-To-Market and Monetization principles at a college in Canada that focuses on non-business students to help them better communicate and better integrate their ideas
  3. Micro Private Equity - I take partial or full ownership in independent businesses that generate consistent and healthy margins, then introduce creative growth initiatives to grow topline revenue without linear increases in operating expenses

You have tons of experience in market launching, commercialization, go-to-market (GTM), partnerships, etc - what do you love about this type of work?

I love that this area of work lets you add a ton of creativity and personal style into a traditionally binary function. The more creative you can get, the more outlying success you can achieve!

Revenue Growth in Tech

What teams/roles in tech are "revenue growth" teams/roles?

Functions contributing to revenue growth typically include Marketing, Sales, Account Management/Customer Success, Rev/Sales/Biz Ops, and Product

What are the most important skills needed to be successful in these roles and why?

Early on, the most important factor for success is truly understanding how you can improve the efficiency and consistency of hitting your KPIs. As you become more senior, connecting that SME knowledge to how all the different components of the organization feed into generating revenue will allow you to impact the revorg much more powerfully.

The Commons

Why did you decide to help shape the Revenue Growth Sprint and what makes you most excited about it?

I think there’s a huge misconception about revenue growth, a lot of it generated during the growth at all costs era, related to saturation vs. defensibility. Another piece is the general prioritization of activity over impact for generating topline sales (ie. keep dialing or push more features vs. optimizing the value chain holistically).

What do you hope participants will get out of it?

I’m hoping participants will be able to go back to their businesses or companies with a new perspective on how to sustainably grow revenue tomorrow. More tactically, how to properly plan around revenue targets and how to utilize the different direct and indirect levers to affect the inputs.

Advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps!

What advice would you give to your former self at the beginning of your job search? 

Sales/Selling is the single most important skill to master that never expires and is pervasive in all aspects of your career, including the job search.

What’s an unpopular opinion or belief you hold about careers, tech or the job search?

Be different, be contrarian, and do what no one else is doing if you want to accomplish something few people or no one else has done.

Something Fun!

Your favorites:

🎙 Podcast: It’s a tie between Plain English with Derek Thompson, and Warriors Plus Minus from The Athletic staff

📰 Where you get your daily news: Bloomberg’s 5 Things to Start Your Day newsletter

📚 Book: Never Split the Difference - Chris Voss

🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Learning how to make my own hot sauce!

Interested in revenue growth roles in tech? Hone the skills you need to succeed in the Revenue Growth Sprint, and receive 1:1 mentorship from Chris!

Interested in more?
Mentor Spotlight: Aritra Ghosh
Mentor Spotlight: Aritra Ghosh
Meet Aritra, Product Manager at Azure (Microsoft) and Product Mentor at The Commons!
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