Helen Yu is the founder and CEO of Tigon Advisory Corp, Host of CXO Spice and a wall-street journal best-selling author. As an independent Board Director, Helen brings a unique perspective to the board room, combining deep technology thought leadership, cybersecurity risk management, go-to-market strategy, and customer experience to deliver thoughtful questions and insights that help drive informed decisions. Demonstrated success of leading ambitious companies inspired culture-building, multi-billion dollars revenue growth and profitability through a career that has spanned early-stage startups and pre-IPOs to Fortune 500 enterprises including Oracle, Adobe and Marketo.
As an executive with over 20 years of experience, guiding organizations through digital transformation, strategic planning, cybersecurity risk management, go-to-market optimization, influencer marketing covering financial services, tech, manufacturing, and telecom. She is named for Top 50 women in Tech by Award Magazine, Top 5 influencer in Financial Services by Onalytica, Top 10 influencer in Digital Transformation by IBM, Top 30 global thought leader in 10 categories by Thinkers360. She has spoken at IRM, SXSW, TiECon, FinTech Summit, DMS, Money20/20 and NAMIC.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Magazine, Helen shared the inspiration behind establishing Tigon Advisory Corp, her role as the board member at KEENFOLKS, personal role model, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Helen, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?
I started my career as an accountant and financial analyst. My curiosity and learning agility got me where I am today. I learned to code as a Hyperion consultant and went on to design and implement 400+ financial planning applications working alongside CFOs and CIOs. Then, I ran an Oracle BI consulting practice post-acquisition with the added pleasure of learning from then Oracle Executive Vice President of Sales Keith Block. Under his tutelage, I learned the nuances of Enterprise Solution Sales at Oracle. I then learned marketing and SAAS at Adobe, and successfully led the startup to scale-up challenges at Marketo. My journey led me to recognize critical gap patterns in growth-driven technology companies, prompting me to become an entrepreneur of value creation accelerator.
What was the inspiration behind establishing your company, Tigon Advisory Corp.? What is the mission and vision of the company?
After seeing the rise and fall of many start-ups, I started Tigon Advisory Corp five and half years ago. Tigon Advisory offers fractional CXO services. We expanded from a start-up accelerator to value creation accelerator guiding Enterprises on digital transformation during pandemic. Our areas of interest includes digital transformation, AI, Cybersecurity, IoT and 5G.
As a curious courageous multiplier. Our mission is to multiply people’s joy, knowledge, and prosperity.
You are the board member of KEENFOLKS. Can you please tell us about this agency and your role in it?
KeenFolks is a global digital transformation agency, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, with offices in New York and Mexico. They were named as the Top Agency in Europe in 2022. KeenFolks aims to become leader on Integrative A.I. and is helping businesses boost efficiency and sales through existing and proprietary technology.
I was appointed as their Board Director in March 2023, responsible for providing oversight to their growth strategy and go-to-market optimization.
What kind of barriers did you experience prior to your success?
As the only woman on the executive team at global companies, the biggest barrier was to get a “real seat” at the table. I am fortunate to have a few sponsors who supported me along the way.
What is a lesson or experience that’s unique to your profession?
As a fractional CXO, I have the opportunity to work with CEOs, Board Members and Executives at companies of all sizes. I am fortunate to learn from effective executives while identifying a pattern for ineffective leadership. I am blessed to be selective of whom I work with.
A strong partner ecosystem allows me to extend my capacity and capability without incurring astronomical costs. Shout out to Grazitti, my go-to partner for Tigon Advisory website maintenance, CXO Spice video post-production and extended consulting teams for sales, marketing, cloud, and cybersecurity engagements. My heartfelt appreciation goes to Chetna Singla and Alok Kukreja for their reliable and timely support.
How do you empower the people you are leading?
Instil trust through listening, understanding, inspiring, and leading by example.
Recognize team: celebrate success and take the blame when things did not go well.
Develop team: teach team how to fish and provide constructive feedback along the way.
Can you name one woman who’s inspired you the most?
I was raised by my grandmother who taught me how to become a servant leader. She inspired me to “stay special, make the world proud” before she passed away.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“It does not exist unless it is measurable” my 5th grader math teacher said. That inspired me to become a data-driven decision maker.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I will be serving on a few more Boards (Public and Private) and continue to contribute to creating a more inclusive digital economy. My 3rd book will be published by then.
Throughout your career, you have and continue to don numerous hats and excel in all the roles. What is your secret mantra for being successful?
My curiosity and learning agility enabled me to adapt and accelerate value creation process for the companies I work with. My ability to Zoom out, Zoom In and Focus allows me to prepare, adapt and acclimate along the way.
What advice would you give to aspiring female executives?
Ditch your “to do” list. Focus on your “to be” list and align your priorities accordingly. Be the CEO of your personal brand. Never stop networking.