Two years in San Francisco

Hi all, last time I posted was on my 30th birthday, a whole 2.5 years ago… I never explained where I decided to go to apply my (then) newly acquired software engineering skills. So here we go. =)

After evaluating possibilities in startups, hedge funds and big tech companies I decided on joining Google. The offer wasn’t the highest I had but definitely competitive, their San Francisco office was a charming brick building converted from an old coffee factory overlooking the Bay Bridge, but most importantly it was one of the ‘things I want to do when I grow up‘ since I was 12 years old (I remember reading about the arcade and scooters in offices).

Highlight of the job: view from my desk. Some days at dusk, the bridge directly reflects the sunlight and turns golden, along with the shiny glass windows on Treasure Island in the background:

Sketch from workstation

To fully embrace city life, I rented a tiny (but absurdly expensive) studio apartment in a cool looking high-rise building that’s a few minutes walk from the office. For the very first time, I acquired a few physical items from designers I’ve always admired (Chairs by Charles Eames and Arne Jacobson, Fortuny Pallucco floor lamp, Philippe Starck’s spider lemon squeezer and Zaha Hadid cheese grader).

Anyways, so everything went pretty smoothly for about a year, I joined a team in mobile performance analytics (basically I was selecting a team in SF and made the decision based on conversation with a particularly charismatic skip manager). The job turned out to be quite mundane and neither creative nor very intellectually stimulating. But I found ways to entertain myself elsewhere, such as hanging out with friends, annual ski pass, periodical visits to Disney… Speaking of which, Galaxy’s Edge is absolutely amazing! In my opinion it’s probably the best piece of Imagineering in a few decades!

Then Corona hit in March 2020, I was trapped at home, got depressed, started re-thinking my life again (don’t worry, it’s been amazing how quickly I became totally un-depressed the moment I un-trapped myself and started moving around ^_^).

Anyways, exactly a year later in March 2021, as the world started to open back up, I got out of Google, moved my belongings into a storage unit and went back on the road =)

Yes I finally got a driver’s license… and a tiny car ^_^

A brief recollection of my 2016

When the crisp breeze replaced roast chestnut smell on the streets of Shanghai, I realized another year has slipped away…

So I’ve been in this management consulting gig for approximately 1.5 years now. Apologize that I have not been able to post here, there is a number of reasons for that…

Anyways, since this is likely the only full-year I’ll spend in ‘serious business’, I guess giving a brief summary could be interesting to those in & out of academia. (if not, this would at least be interesting to a future me =P) Note that I have to avoid discussing all client and project work for McKinsey.

Here we go~

January: Did an interesting side project of producing a short video for work


February: Got excited about LUNAR (an industrial design Firm we McKinsey has acquired), started to review industrial sketching and went to San Francisco to meet LUNAR


March: My birthday, and through work I somehow got involved in the furniture design scene in Shanghai, made some designer friends and went to various shows

April: Spent the whole month and some more in Korea on a project, but hardly ever got out of the hotel/office (well, except for some shopping at the end)


May: Got on a random project in a 4th-tier city in the middle of China, decided to reward myself to a weekend in Paris (or shall I say Paris Disneyland? >.<)

June: Short business trip in Copenhagen =)


Then took a detour to Sweden and bumped into a very, very old friend (from middle school!)

July: On what’s probably my favorite project in McKinsey, confidential stuff aside, went on a team event with some hardcore partying in Macau (infact I got out from the party in a wheelchair, oh well, good crazy times =)

August: Company retreat in Tibet (we shipped over 500 consultants from 4 offices to Lhasa, largest group in Tibet ever; many passed out due to altitude upon arrival XD) Mostly just spent days staying in a fancy hotel with other consultants, I don’t quite get the point of being in Tibet for that, except for getting a room with huge bathroom, and I got bored so experimented with traditional Tibet costume

September: Project in Beijing, stayed in the trendy W hotel with a round bathtub & view from the office is the CCTV building; but in fact had a rather miserable few weeks

Then went to Singapore for a training

October: Went surfing in Indonesia (after all, I still find super basic hostels with an ocean view better than any glamours place)


Took a week off to go to Australia (completely an impulsive decision, woke up and bought a same-day flight =P) Generally tried various flying (skydiving, hang-gliding, gliding…) during the day and caught shows in the evenings

November: Went to Yangshuo again to enhance my rock climbing skills, finally comfortable with leading some lower grades, rewarded myself with that red quick-draw set I’ve been wanting for years =)

December: I finally visited the Shanghai Disneyland! (ok…I procrastinated for 5 months because I was too afraid it’s not going to live up to expectations…turns out was a good park overall =) Spotted most of my work from 2014! (anyone remember that statue from this 2014 post when I was working in Disney?)