Ivy Ross is the head of Project Aura, Google's secretive wearables branch, but she took an unusual path to become a tech executive.Over the past two decades, Ross' career has included stints in companies ranging from Mattel to Gap Inc., and before that she was an acclaimed jewelry designer with work in the world's foremost museums.In her commencement address at the Fashion Institute of Technology FIT on Thursday, Ross told the new graduates that she was grateful her unorthodox career path taught her fundamental truths.Business Insider caught up with Ross after her speech to distill her story into her top lessons for people still in the early stages of their careers.
'Get your ego out of the way so that your heart can be your operating system'Ross began her career designing jewelry using nontraditional metals and innovative techniques.
By the time she was 28, in 1983, she had her work in the permanent collections of 12 museums — including the Smithsonian in Washington DC, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Montreal Visual Arts Center — and was the recipient of a De Beers Diamonds International Award.After the 12th museum, her excitement eventually faded.
And then I was like, 'Oh my God, if this is what that is, then I'm so glad I understand that now,'" she said.With her ego's craving satisfied, she could then focus on contributing her talents to teams and taking joy in creating things with others, she explained, which in turn brought more satisfaction.Never live according to 5-year plansRoss said she would be incapable of predicting five years ago that she would be heading up a secret Google project, and she prefers it that way.It was actually her early and unexpected success as a designer in her 20s that allowed her to come to the Zen-like realization that "there isn't an end game.
"I think the ideal career path idea will not get you to the right place," she explained.
"The idea of tapping into who you are, the essence, will.NOW WATCH: 'Shark Tank' star Daymond John reveals the advantages of being brokeLoading video...