Leadership Discovery

Alumni On The Move - November 2018

Jacob Trieu

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Someone once told me, "Keep on doing what you've always done and you won't always get what you’ve always got." Hmm….you might be thinking 'isn't this the meaning of consistency? If repetition doesn't always yield the same results, what does? This is true if all of the given conditions are the same and continue to remain the same, but in life it seldom ever does.

This is especially true for jobs and careers. We can go to work, do our jobs, impact people's lives and go home and repeat. But there is something that changes ever so subtly if not the world around us…ourselves. And because of this nothing is ever truly consistent in life. We need something to help push us to grow, some change to drive us forward.

I recently moved into a Senior Project Manager role at Omron Microscan working on products for industrial automation and verification. Previously at Boeing, I was working as a Senior Project Engineer on aircraft interiors. You might be asking, why change jobs, industry or even career? Each day I would work on cool products that the flying public touches and gets to see, I would collaborate with aviation enthusiasts around the world, and yet there was something more I yearned for. As I reflected internally, I realized I needed to grow in a way that pushed me in ways I can’t think of. All so I can strive to be better than I was yesterday.

My new role at Omron has challenged me every day to learn about new products, finding ways to lead and motivate teams, and provides me new perspectives on how to think and act differently. This environment change I made externally began with the transitioning I began internally. The saying goes, "Change is external, transition is internal."

EDI has had a major impact on where I am and will continue to be a part of my future. EDI has challenged me to take more dynamic risks for a better future. So now I am throwing down a challenge to all of you out there…Challenge yourself today to commit to following through for a better tomorrow.


Anna Kim

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

In my EDI class, one of the most important lessons I learned was to package my life experience as a whole and use it as a strength by presenting my authentic best. Professionally, I was always holding back, suspicious that I might reveal weakness. In EDI I learned that I was going about this the wrong way. There may be vulnerabilities, but also my greatest source of strength.

Throughout the EDI class I took the opportunity to consider not who I am, but why. This journey helped me immensely when I decided to move back to Oregon. I took a job with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon as the energy efficiency specialist. I administer the Energy Trust grant, draft administrative rules, and review utility resource investments.

Anna Kim (center) presents to the Commission while accompanied by her lawyer as her manager observes from the audience.

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

In this role, I felt I could use the full breadth of my skills. Here, I use my analytic mind to understand the overarching impacts of decisions, I use poetry to construct my arguments, and I found a place that deserves my loyalty. All of that communication and presentation training sure

helps in this line of work too.

To be honest, this job demands my authentic best. I can’t imagine going back.

You’ll find me outdoors more often than not, enjoying my Oregonian days.

Anna Kim, Korean American. Economist. Poet.

Alumni On The Move - October 2018

  Irini Dimitriou   Portland Leadership Discovery, Class of 2018

Irini Dimitriou

Portland Leadership Discovery, Class of 2018

My favorite poem is “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy: It’s a reminder that the journey is more important than the destination. Looking back a year ago, I think of the amazing year I had. It was not easy, it made me uncomfortable, but it had so much impact on my growth and self-awareness.

I was traditionally trained in Fashion and Footwear design and lived in 5 different countries. I received an MA in Design Management and I'm considered a technical expert in my field.

Irini’s Nike ‘Just Do It’ Award

I was always holding back sharing with people my vision, values, and aspirations. My expectation was that people will see my hard work and it will shine, and it did up to a point … EDI helped me voice these thoughts, build connections, be kind to myself, and make the extra effort not only for me but for the team I represent.

This year was the year of awakening at a personal as well as professional level. It was a big surprise when I was nominated for being a recipient of an inaugural Nike Just Do It Award.

Selected by our teams’ leaders, I was one of only 52 honorees from all over the world representing the best of Nike – the embodiment of the ideals that live in the Nike Maxims:

  • Serve Athletes * (if you have a body you are an athlete”)

  • Create the future of Sport

  • Be on the offense always

  • Do the right thing

  • Win as a team

I am really excited about the future and looking to pay it forward. EDI gave me the tools and mindset to believe that anything is possible, just do it….

Here is the poem, “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy:

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.

May there be many summer mornings when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn't have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


Valerie Dawson

Leadership Discovery & Leadership Navigation, Class of 2012 & 2015 (respectively)

I have worked for The Boeing Company for 12 years. During the course of my career, I have had very supportive leadership teams that have sponsored me for amazing leadership programs. I’m proud to be an alumni of both EDI Discovery and EDI Navigation. The best part of the programs were my fellow classmates and the amazing instructors and facilitators. Both programs acted as a catalyst for my success. After graduation from EDI Discovery, I moved to several other teams to expand my breath as a manager. Plus my husband and I started our family. Since EDI Navigation, we now have two sons and earlier this year I was promoted to Senior Engineering Manager and it has been a great ride. I constantly feel challenged and learn something significant every day. The EDI programs helped me see this type of environment as the best place to develop and evolve my leadership competencies.

EDI helped connect my cultural background to my leadership style and provided me the tools and self-awareness for growth. In an industry that continues to evolve, we must evolve our skills with it. Thank you, EDI for recognizing the need for developing strong global and diverse leaders. Thank you for the opportunity to share and thank you to my fellow alumni for sharing your inspiring stories as well.

Alumni On The Move - August 2018

Jiangping Gu (bottom right) with fellow EDI alums Andrew Chang, Kyoo Chang Oh 

Portland Discovery, Class of 2013

I was recently promoted to the Director of Engineering for the Large Parts Campus (LPC) of PCC Structurals, Inc. LPC is the world leader in large, complex structural investment castings for aircraft engines, land-based turbines, military armament and other applications. 

I am responsible for the development of engineering, production engineering, process control, tooling and fixture engineering for both Steel and Titanium plants. I am leading a world-class engineering team of about 100 employees dedicated to developing, improving and controlling the investment casting processes of stainless steel, nickel-based superalloys, and titanium alloys. 

I moved to the US in 1995 working for the University of Iowa as a post-doctoral research associate after I graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. I started my career at PCC as a modeling engineer in 1999. I transitioned to the management role in 2011 after I completed my MBA from Cornell University. I was promoted as the Steel Plant Engineering Manager in 2013 while I was attending EDI. I was promoted again in 2016 as the New Product Introduction (NPI) Engineering Manager for both Steel and Ti plants.

To me, EDI essentially is the expanded class of a typical MBA course "Leading and Managing Organizations". EDI is more insightful and yet more practical as all the instructors have tremendous executive experiences. My self-awareness enhanced through EDI classes and the skills I learned from EDI such as presentation, conflict management, and branding have benefitted me tremendously since then and will continue to help my future growth. I am so grateful!


Yanira Ramirez

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since graduating from EDI, I’ve worked on my confidence, being able to speak up and getting out of my comfort zone. This has helped me take on challenging projects.  I became the cost recovery focal at Boeing for the 767, Tanker and 737 programs. I’ve pushed myself to explore and learn more about what interests me, what my strengths are and where I have areas to grow. 

After analyzing this, I decided to return back to school and obtain a master’s degree. At the beginning of the year, I started my first year of graduate school at Arizona State University to pursue a Masters in Global Management. It has been a year of change with new adventures that will help me grow personally and professionally.

Shortly after starting grad school, I was offered an opportunity with Microsoft. After 3.5 years with Boeing as a Financial Analyst, in May I joined the Real Estate and Facilities Team (RE&F) as an Integrated Facilities Management Analyst at Microsoft.  In this role, I will be working with our Tier 1 suppliers in Latin America, US, and Canada. I’ll have the ability to use my bilingual skills as well as a long-time goal of working with international accounts. I’ll also be collaborating with counterparts in Asia, Europe, and India. 

I’m very excited about this new challenge and opportunity to learn a new business. I am collaborating with our partners to strategize in order to deliver the best experience to our customers. 

In this new role, I also get the opportunity to travel. I attended a year-end strategy meeting in Mexico City where we met with our partners to plan for the new year. I also had the opportunity to meet my international colleagues in Paris while sharing best practices between the regions.  Most recently I attended a working meeting in Medellin, Colombia. 

It has been a very busy year, but also a year of growth. I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring! 

Alumni On The Move - July 2018

Diana Wong (in the blue cap) with her Dragon Boat team

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since my journey of the Leadership Discovery Program, a lot of knowledge I learned through EDI has stuck with me. Two things that have been of focus for me are taking risks and embracing change. Growing up, I always heard about climbing the “corporate ladder” and being in management. After EDI, I’ve come to understand that it is about climbing my own ladder and being a leader for both myself and others. Leadership no longer means a title or a level of management to me. It’s about being able to make a difference, whether small or big. I have been fortunate enough to have many great people share their wisdom and experience with me, which has helped contribute to who I am. It is other’s influence, inspiration, and motivation that drive me and I want to be able to do the same for others. Being a more timid individual, EDI’s “Nothing Risked, Nothing Gained” session still resonates with me as it’s about taking risks. Along with taking risks, comes change, which I have learned to embrace. A leader has to embrace change, be willing to take risks, and learn from failures as a progression. 

After being in the same Finance function for most of my career, I finally found the courage to take a leap and make a change. I recently decided to pursue a different Finance position in Supply Chain, which is also a new division experience for me. It has completely taken me out of my comfort zone having to learn about the Supply Chain aspect. To feel like I'm starting over is a great challenge, but one that is refreshing as I learn to embrace change. As I continue to learn, I also hope that I can share and contribute knowledge I’ve gained from my previous teams.

Outside of work, I have also taken another challenge by taking a coaching role on a Dragon Boat community team. Dragon Boat is a sport promoting teamwork, communication, and health. This sport brings people of all backgrounds to come and learn to work together as one. It truly brings diversity together and teaches us how to become one team through synchronicity, focus, and teamwork. To be able to inspire, motivate, and encourage a group to work together is both challenging and rewarding. The coaching experience has not only taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged me, but also shown me where I have failed to my expectations. As I have taken the risk to take on this challenge, I have learned to embrace the failures and am currently reminding myself to use those learnings as development and growth.

I hope to pay it forward, share knowledge, and bring out the best in others. From EDI, within challenge is change, so continue to challenge and change yourself and others. Thank You, EDI!

Alumni On The Move - June 2018

An Hoang

Portland Discovery, Class of 2014

I moved to Minnesota in 2016 for family reasons, after spending more than a decade in Portland. I brought with me great memories with family, friends and work. I started my new work as the Senior Project Engineer position at Phillips and Temro Industries. I was responsible for the Heavy Duty OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) engine heater design, focusing both on maintaining the North America customer base and winning new business with the European OEM. After almost 2 years, I was promoted as the first Project Manager in the company. I’m responsible for leading strategic projects, developing electric vehicle battery heating technologies, and establishing the production footprint in Asia. My new company has literally taken me around the world and I’m excited for the next journey to unfold.

I’m grateful for my learning with EDI. It has helped me greatly in discovering my strengths, in self-reflecting and finding clarity on what I want to achieve with my career. EDI helped me to become more courageous in fighting for what I want and paving my own path. Being the first Project Manager in my current company is an example of that.

The lessons I learned from EDI, and especially the tutoring from my late mentor, Alan Sugiyama, not only help me in my professional life but also my personal life.  I now make an effort to give back to my communities, whether it’s volunteering with my PMP chapter, my Vietnamese community, or just to be more of a big brother in my soccer team.

I miss my classmates at EDI. They were my great support and I follow their journey cheering for their success. I hope my story would play its small part in keeping the EDI community strong, just as how the EDI shared stories have been motivating me to be better person.


May Leong

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2011

I recently became Deputy Director of the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco and I’m thrilled to be part of an arts nonprofit whose mission is dedicated to elevating underserved communities and giving voice to equality through education and contemporary art.

In my current role, I focus on developing fundraising strategies that include Board engagement and support, while working closely with a senior leadership team to grow individual, corporate, and earned revenue funding. I’m also designing an impactful Donor cultivation and stewardship program to strengthen and leverage the CCC brand. Learning more about the arts has been gratifying and a long-term personal goal of mine, so working in this new field is an exciting new experience.

EDI has played a huge part in my success since graduating from the Navigation program. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with my classmates and in fact joined the Board of Spreeha Foundation (spreeha.org), a nonprofit founded by fellow EDI classmate, Tazin Shadid.

Spreeha provides healthcare, education, and career training for residents in the slums of Bangladesh and has served an exponential number of poor children and their families since its humble beginnings. Today it is one of the few nonprofits serving the displaced Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, by providing essential things like toilets, wells for clean water, and healthcare. The sheer scale of the crisis is mind-blowing. I’m so proud of the staff, volunteers, and donors who work so hard to help break the cycle of poverty and serve this population.

A few years ago, my family and I moved back to the San Francisco Bay area and said goodbye to our home of 14 years in Seattle. From 2013 – 2017 I served as Executive Director at Donaldina Cameron House, a faith-based nonprofit where I got to work with an amazing staff to provide social services and youth leadership programs in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

My EDI classmates will be happy to hear I finally finished my first novel, a Young Adult Fantasy adventure about a mom and her daughter who save our world, separately. Currently I’m sending out query letters to find an agent and publisher. I actually look forward to seeing how many rejections it takes to get a positive reply! JK Rowling received 12 rejections and Dr. Seuss received 27. So I’ll either beat these odds by getting more or less.

Throughout these years I’ve also consulted by providing workshop trainings for emerging leaders and nonprofit Boards in the area of fund development and leadership. The lessons I learned from EDI about emotional intelligence and authenticity are skills and tools that I savor and use each day.

I have enjoyed building my career in a way that aligns perfectly with my life’s mission of building community and global citizens, one local person at a time.  

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sailor by heart and I’m pleased to report that my husband and I are the proud owners of a 1986 41-foot Hans Christian sailboat, named Taiko. Whenever we have some free time we try to go sailing on the Bay.

If any EDI alumni are down in the SF Bay area please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always open to connecting and helping to elevate and support the next generation of young and/or experienced leaders.

Alumni On The Move - May 2018

Katherine Tsai Martinez (2nd from left) with the Matt Griffin YMCA Board

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

Since graduating from the 2017 Leadership Discovery Program, I have been busy holding myself accountable on defining what my authentic best is and practicing it daily. One of the major takeaways from the program was, the longer I continued to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do, I will never be the authentic leader that I want to be.

Being inspired to take chances, I successfully transitioned into a new finance role a few months before graduating from the Discovery Program. After being in Supplier Management at Boeing for two years, I accepted a role at Boeing Capital as a Treasury and Risk Analyst. I have never been one to not push myself to excel in the workplace but through EDI’s Leadership Discovery Program, I realized that I wanted to be a strong contributor at work, whom not only performs at their job functions but leads and inspires others as a diverse leader. In addition, I have become more active in Boeing’s Asian Professionals Association where I am currently the Co-Chair for their 2018 LEAD program. The LEAD program is an 8-month leadership program focused on developing diverse Boeing Professionals within the company.

The Discovery Program's community service project inspired me to be active again in the community. For our team project, we chose to support the Matt Griffin YMCA and held a fundraising event which generated more than $2,000 for their after-school programs. Seeing the impact of our fundraiser, I was compelled to join the Matt Griffin Board. 

I’m so appreciative of everything that I learned from EDI. I have made some great relationships from the program, it is so nice to have a genuine network. I am proud of where I am at both professionally and personally. Thanks to EDI, I can confidently say that I am a leader that graciously welcomes new challenges and refuses to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do.


Jacob Esparza

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

I recently accepted an amazing opportunity at Facebook as a Program Manager.  I am working on a team called Business Integrity New Products where I am a central point leading cross-functional teams in identifying risks to new product launches.  My role is responsible for assessing risks, influencing policy creation, creating review processes, and facilitating the setup of KPIs to track success.  This role was a huge opportunity for me after I made the jump from aerospace into tech last year.

EDI has played a huge part in my successes since graduating. The EDI lessons that stuck with me were the importance of not only networking but using my network to help build my confidence to make big moves through being self-aware and to always push myself. The ability to continuously use the tools that EDI helped fill my toolbox with is a priceless gift that I am very thankful to have received.

I am extremely honored by this new adventure and am also excited to start using one of the other things that EDI taught me, which is giving back.  My husband and I are partnering with the rescue that we adopted one of our dogs from to throw a fundraising event to support their efforts in rescuing dogs, cats and horses from Mexico and finding them homes.  We are huge dog lovers and are looking forward to giving back to an organization that means a lot to us!

Alumni on the Move - April 2018

  Mellissa Nguon    Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2016   

Mellissa Nguon

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2016 

I was recently promoted to Business Manager for the Boeing Global Services, Supply Chain Execution Commercial Fulfillment organization.  In my new role, I will be using my leadership and project management skills to support executive reviews, business requirements, special initiatives, and process improvements.  I also represent as one of the leaders for the Supply Chain LEAN Operational Excellence Team with a mission to help empower and enable my team members to be excellent by promoting a people-centered and customer-focused culture.

Additionally, I’ve stepped up to serve as the new Co-Chair of the Introduction to Boeing New Models and Derivatives Committee for the International Airlines Technical Pool (IATP). I'll have the opportunity to deliver presentations, meet with airline customers and leaders of the Aviation industry, and travel to different international destinations twice a year. 

Last but not least, I was recently elected to Chair the Boeing Global Services Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Renton site, to help strengthen the business and achieve world-class results by leveraging diverse perspectives to promote a culture of inclusion, engagement, and personal accountability as well as developing and empowering employees through education, values, and experiences and engagement with our Leaders. 

I’m grateful for these opportunities, but success does require on-going commitment, hard work, and patience.  For me, it’s been a continuous journey toward growth and development, and it’s especially important to celebrate small or big successes along the way, like recently obtaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) credential.  Currently, I’m an MBA candidate with Syracuse University and targeting to receive my MBA degree with a concentration in Data Analytics by June of 2019. 

I’m always working to improve on myself whether it is in my personal or professional life.  I’m also a community volunteer for NW Harvest and help organize and execute volunteer events at the Kent Warehouse to collect, sort, and package items to distribute to food banks across the Puget Sound.  As an EDI Alumni, I realized that completing the program produced many positive outcomes, such as giving me that extra boost to jumpstart my career and the confidence to succeed and be a mentally stronger, more authentic leader.  I enjoy what I do every day as I get to tap into my fullest potential and have the opportunity to travel domestically and internationally.  I believe that if you work hard enough and persistently pursue your goals, you will get to where you want to be in time.  Throughout my career with The Boeing Company, I have had a chance to see the world by supporting business trips in Montreal, Canada; Penang, Malaysia; Okinawa, Japan; Dublin, Ireland, and most recently, Riga, Latvia.  If you are interested in following me on my global adventures, you can add me on Instagram @globetrotter_melly.

**Photo Credit: Ainsley DS Photography**


  April Tomlinson  (in red) poses with fellow EDI Alums Tommy Sisa-at, Carmen Marttila, and Joann Miranda  Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

April Tomlinson (in red) poses with fellow EDI Alums Tommy Sisa-at, Carmen Marttila, and Joann Miranda

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

EDI! The program helped me feel more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and asking for feedback. I consulted business partners and leaders in my organization and through those conversations, I decided to take a leap outside of retail banking after nearly 10 years. I applied and was hired as a Merchant Service Advisor for KeyBank.

In my new role, I partner with over 30 branches in south Puget Sound and work with local business owners to grow and succeed in their communities. This position challenges me in leadership, organization and networking but I am loving every moment of it.

I am thrilled to say that I’ve also recently accepted a role aside Carmen Marttila as the Vice President of our Hispanic Latino Keybank Impact Networking Group. EDI has helped renew my passion around community involvement and I look forward to sharing our activities and how we’ve partnered with organizations like El Centro de la Raza throughout the year to make a difference! EDI helped me to embrace my authentic best self and i’m leading with energy, enthusiasm and passion both in my daily work activities and in my community.

EDI helped me to grow so much that I decided to stay involved and join the Alumni Board as the Vice President. Partnering with the other alums and being able to sit in on the executive board retreat has already been a fantastic experience. I am excited to share EDI with the community and want to see them grow and succeed.

Alumni on the Move - February 2018

  Chihao Mac   Portland Discovery, Class of 2015

Chihao Mac

Portland Discovery, Class of 2015

I was recently promoted to Senior Engineer within the Advanced Engineering team at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). In this new role, I will be responsible for the development and implementation of various innovative designs for our trucks. Along with this promotion, I have also recently become the Chair for the Asian Resource Network (ARN), one of the many employee resource groups at DTNA. I will be utilizing the various tools that I have learned in EDI to help lead our core team for this year.

Since graduating from EDI in 2015, there have been many changes in my life both personally and professionally. On the personal side, I got married and bought my first home. On the professional side, I changed groups and have been a lot more active in ARN and in the community. One thing that stuck with me from EDI is a great leader gives back to the community. ARN helped me participate in EDI, so I believe in its cause and enjoy offering support.

There are so many tools you learn from going through EDI that will help you become a better leader and help you advance in your professional career. Here are some of them that have been keys to my success:

  • Communication, both verbally and non-verbally, is a very important skill to have. This will allow you to work effectively with others and understand each other. I have found this to be very important in my personal life as well.
  • Networking is a big deal. As you learn from EDI, it’s not who you know, but who knows you.
  • Self-awareness and the understanding of others' perceptions of me has been an eye-opener. I learned this early on at EDI and always think back to this topic. I try to stay aware of my behaviors and the impact it has on others.

 Lynda Racicot  Portland Discovery, Class of 2017

Lynda Racicot

Portland Discovery, Class of 2017

My new position is a Credit Risk Analyst at Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). I’m responsible for providing financial reviews and credit scores for customers and vendors in order to mitigate market and credit risk for BPA. This is a promotional opportunity, which has allowed me to learn about different aspects of BPA’s business. Previously I had worked in BPA’s Asset Accounting department for six (6) years and became a subject matter expert in that area. Through EDI, I realized that I was living in my comfort zone with my work in accounting and needed to push myself once again into the learning zone with a new role.

My dad ultimately inspired me to pursue a professional career in accounting and compliance. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and served as a special agent for the IRS for 20 years. He truly enjoyed his work and had great stories to tell. My favorite was one about a farmer who he investigated for submitting a fraudulent tax return for his pig, Waterhole Willie, as it was written on his tax forms! While I was working on my accounting degree, my dad and I would talk about everything I was learning and he would share his knowledge of the stock market and economy. Unfortunately, my dad passed away a few years ago, but I know he would’ve been excited to hear that I am now working in an area that we spent so much time talking about.

Alumni on the Move - January 2018

Nigel Lo recently stepped into the role of CEO at Kin On, a not-for-profit health and services provider for the Asian community.

  Nigel Lo   Discovery, Class of 1997

Nigel Lo

Discovery, Class of 1997

Challenge Yourself & Chase Your Dream

One of the benefits of retirement is to have the leisure of trying something new and to pursue the hobbies and work that I have always wanted to do. During my retirement, I enjoyed working on home improvement projects and playing the game of golf. I also loved teaching at the Renton library and the Chinese Information and Service Center. Believe it or not, I've also learned how to sing karaoke and perform with a live band. I was very happy to partake in all these activities, but in my heart, I always wanted to re-engage with the community in a more significant way. When the opportunity at Kin On was open, I jumped right in.

The CEO of Kin On is responsible for the overall financial and operational performance of the entire organization. Kin On has various business segments including the skilled-nursing facility, in-home care services, and Healthy Living programs. We are also building a new assisted living and adult family home apartments. There is a lot of growth opportunity to integrate these business segments seamlessly in the Kin On Continuum Care model. The challenges that I can foresee in a non-profit organization could be in the establishment and implementation of processes and procedures. A non-profit sometimes does not have the resources to develop and update processes and procedures as quickly and effectively as needed. There are state regulations to be met and complied with. So what is it that an engineer and project manager like me could do to take charge of this elder care enterprise?

Looking back, many leadership skills and philosophies that I learned throughout my career at The Boeing Company have prepared me for this role. The fundamental principles on managing a business regardless if it’s a profit or nonprofit organization are essentially the same. You must think strategically and have a strong vision.

During my preparation for the Kin On interview, I began to realize there are many similarities between working at Boeing and Kin On. Both jobs have profit and loss responsibility and strong management obligation. The leadership attributes requirements are very similar as well. The ability on charting the course, delivering results, setting high expectations, and inspiring the teams is imperative.

My time at EDI was also a rewarding professional development experience. Twenty years ago, my EDI community project was to work with Kin On. In other words, where I am at right now was because of EDI and I am very grateful for that. Through the EDI program, the leadership development learning in regards to understanding the Asian culture, its strength and challenges, and leveraging the experience is simply remarkable. It helped my career at Boeing and now I can fully utilize the leadership development at Kin On. I feel fortunate and honored to have this opportunity to lead the Kin On team.

Over the years, there are mentors and colleagues who have always stood by and supported me. They are great role models and inspiring individuals who I always learning from. I count on their honest feedback and advice. At the personal level, family and friends who understand my goals and aspiration, always encourage me to chase my dreams and offer good advice along the way. I treasure this network of mentors and supporters in my life.

Some final words:

Leadership skills are transferable. I am a living example of it. I encourage the future leaders focus on developing a set of leadership skills and gaining experiences that you can articulate when you progress in your current assignment or at your next big opportunity. These soft skills will differentiate you from another equally capable individual and open doors that you might not have thought of.

Find your passion. I have never thought that it would be possible to go from building airplanes to managing an elderly care enterprise. And here I am! When you can combine leadership skills and passion, you have a very good chance of achieving your dreams.

Think big! Stop worrying about level, rank, title, and money. Start focusing on personal and professional development. Believe in yourself and use your talents to do something that creates an impact in making the world better.

Joining Kin On as the new CEO is a wonderful opportunity to contribute and engage with the community in a meaningful way. My mother, sister, and uncle are all residing in different elderly care facilities. This opportunity cannot be more relevant to me than any other positions in my career. I am very excited to lead the teams and take Kin On to the next level and make a difference where it matters.


  Gerald Giacchi   Discovery, Class of 2016

Gerald Giacchi

Discovery, Class of 2016

My new position is Category Engineering Director for Young Athletes Footwear at Nike, Inc., managing the engineering and manufacturing strategic plan of the category and managing four engineers. I am planning to understand and master the position in the next 2-3 years.

EDI has been the trigger to build self confidence in reaching the new position. I had a chance the few months after my graduation to give a presentation about my learnings to footwear leadership; they were very impressed and felt confident to give me the new position.

The biggest challenge is the transition from managing projects to managing people, you need to develop totally different skills (EQ is the first that come to my mind). I don’t know yet about successes or failure because I am new to the position, but I will wait for the end of fiscal year to get feedback.

Definitively all the EDI training (guest speakers and EDI friends like Jeff Racicot) have inspired me. I also had few Nike mentors who inspired me. My dad is also a huge inspiration; he used to manage a factory.

My advice for others is to gain self-confidence (the most challenging person you have to deal with is…yourself!). Feel that you are ready for the next position and communicate to your managers. My main motivation is now the four engineers I manage; my goals is to have them reach their full potential and achieve their own goals.

Alumni on the Move - December 2017

  Dennis Lam   Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Dennis Lam

Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

A few weeks ago in mid-November, I left Boeing to join Zillow Group as a Pricing Analyst. In this new role, I use contemporary data analytics methods to develop revenue growth strategies in the New York City region, as well as future products such as 3D real estate listings.

Since I left EDI in Nov 2016, I have made an effort to develop meaningful business relationships by reaching out to friends who I have met throughout the years. Listening to what others have to say about my career goals and expectations helped me clarify where my next career move should be. Perhaps more so than a decade or two ago and perhaps to satisfy the increasing productivity expectation from customers, companies, especially new tech startups, make an effort to hire only those who they see as the “best fit” of their professional requirements and company culture. To me, reaching out and conversing with people from a very diverse background helps me understand my strength and weakness, and understand how and where I can be a best fit.

Academically, since 2014, I had been working part-time on my master degree in physics at the University of Washington, and finally completed the degree this past summer of 2017. Working on my physics thesis was probably the toughest long-term project that I’ve ever accomplished. It has been a life-changing experience that I will be forever be thankful for.

In early 2016, my master advisers, Prof. Jeff Wilkes and Prof. Shih-Chieh Hsu, pushed me to work on developing a machine learning code base for a UW particle physics team. It was a very steep learning curve for me. I had no prior experience in machine learning, so I had spent many evenings and weekends sitting alone at my desk, trying to understand the math behind contemporary machine learning algorithms and practicing coding in Linux and Python, while working full-time in Boeing. I went through countless failures battling with gigabytes of data and meeting my professors' expectations. Nevertheless, with great challenge comes great reward. The thesis project opened my eyes and exposed me to contemporary thinking in quantitative analytics, artificial intelligence, and new professional opportunities in big data. During winter break of 2017, I had a chance to visit CERN, the European epicenter for particle physics, and worked side-by-side with some of the brightest minds. I studied physics out of pure curiosity to understand how the natural world works, but it turns out that the skills I learned in physics help land my opportunity in Zillow today.

My Takeways:

  • Don’t be afraid of challenges...they’re good for you! So listen to your heart, and actively immerse yourself in the right kind of challenges that stretch you WAY out of your comfort zone.
  • Keep picking up new skills and be flexible...this is the only way to stay relevant in this fast moving world.
  • Don’t burn bridges and keep networking to leave a good impression…you never know who you’re going to come across again in life
  • Try to shoot for having multiple sources of recurring income, so that you can be more financially flexible down the road.
  • Think about what you can offer and find opportunities to give back to society whenever you can.
  • Volunteer to meet with and reach out to people who lead very different lives from yours, (e.g., host students/travelers in your house!) Life is all about experience and good companies value and utilize people who have diverse life exposures!

Last but not least, I’d like to thank my family, friends, Boeing, EDI, and UW for their continued support of my journey such far. I'm excited to move fast, think big, and tackle new challenges in my next phase of life in Zillow.


  Aimi Shukri   Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Aimi Shukri

Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

I recently accepted a position at Micronics, Inc. as a Manufacturing Engineer after six and a half years of working at Spacelabs Healthcare. In this new role, I will be overseeing manufacturing process qualification of Micronics product at the contract manufacturer, which is quite different from my previous role of performing those activities in our own factory. I look forward to working on a different type of medical device with Micronics, and exploring new possibilities with this company.

Shortly after graduating from EDI, I was looking into relocating to a different part of the world to support a contract manufacturer of my previous employer. However, after careful consideration,  I was unable to accept the relocation package. After deciding to stay, my previous employer went through a lot of organizational and management changes that allowed me to step up into a slightly different role. I took up project planning and tracking for a few critical projects that had high visibility from upper management. In addition, I was also guiding other colleagues on test system development and qualifications. After a few months in this role, I realized that in order for me to take my next leap, I had to leave my comfort zone at a place that I had been so familiar with.

It was a real challenge to juggle a full-time job, family, and finding new opportunities, but regardless, I continued my efforts. Eventually, I was contacted by a recruiter and within two days after the interview, I was offered a position at Micronics. I have to thank two individuals previously at Spacelabs. Firstly, Jan Heeg, who patiently coached me on project planning and tracking, making judgements, and how to communicate effectively to upper management. Secondly, Mike Brendel, who encouraged me to broaden my technical expertise and pursue leadership opportunities.

Attending EDI Leadership Discovery program motivated me to keep striving for growth in my career. In retrospect, I learned that no matter how challenging the situation is, being persistent and trusting my instincts were vital in making this career shift.