leadership development

Alumni On The Move - December 2018

Jacob Gonzalez at a recent planning commission meeting.

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

Authenticity was a concept mentioned early and often throughout the EDI experience. Learning about who we are at our “Authentic Best” had a lasting impact on me as I started a new role just after graduating from the 2018 Leadership Discovery Program.

In September, I began my new role as Senior City Planner for the City of Pasco. Pasco is a mid-sized city that has been one of the state's fastest growing communities for over a decade. This new opportunity will allow me to work on various long-range plans but, I am most excited about the chance to work as a planner for the City I have known my whole life. The EDI program coincided with my job search, from dusting off my resume and searching for jobs to the interview and offer process. The timing was perfect. Engaging with my classmates as we learned from our facilitators helped me throughout the process of identifying specifically what I wanted from my next role, and why. The projects and plans I will be working on will allow me to use my analytical background combined with my passion for public involvement. Working with numbers is fun, however it is important to understand that these numbers represent real people in our community. I accepted the new opportunity with a humble appreciation for the responsibility it brings.

So, who am I at my authentic best? I am a compassionate and enthusiastic believer that our city and community members deserves equitable access to the things that some of the world's most livable cities and neighborhoods have. EDI taught me to channel my passion vocally with clear intent while remaining true to myself. I look forward to utilizing the skills I gained from EDI as our city plans for the future.


Mariam Abarientos

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

“If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley – but be the best little scrub by the side of the rill; be the bush if you can’t be a tree”.

I remember putting this poem up on my wall the very first time I walked into my place of work 22 years ago. At that time, I was young, starting out in my career and happy to be doing what I was doing. I landed a job as an Accounting Assistant for a general contractor in the Pacific Northwest, and I know I must earn my keep. That poem by Douglas Malloch was my guide. I knew I was young, full of potential, yet I understood that I had to start somewhere. At that stage in my life, I gave it my best, worked with excellence and put in 150% of whatever my present task was. I was the youngest employee in the company.

SEASONS

Fast forward 20 years later… I have gone through role changes in my career, and have been continuously promoted to increasing levels of responsibilities. I got promoted from Accounting Assistant to Staff Accountant, to Accounting Supervisor, then to Accounting Manager. I became the co-chair of the company’s Lean Committee. I grew up, got married, started a family. I am no longer that youth from years ago. I am still authentic, and only better. Outside of work, I serve the community as Board Director for both the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics and the International Community Health Services Clinic boards. In those leadership roles outside of work, I learned a great deal from other leaders – CEOs, CFOs, principals of the Seattle business community and learned best practices from other companies and industries which I can then apply to my professional role. It’s like landing a job in other corporate settings and learning best practices without having to leave my current work. In all these years, there is one common denominator. I have kept that poem, in the original stationery where I printed it 22 years ago, and it served as a reminder for me that at whatever stage I am in my career, I am giving my best and excelling in what I do.

Mariam Abarientos (top right) with the Lease Crutcher Lewis Seattle Accounting Team at the Washington State Fair.

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

A TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY

EDI came at a time when I was at the pinnacle of my career and ready for the next step. I have everything that I need, as well as the soft skills, but I needed that final push, that final formula. The EDI Leadership Navigation Program has filled that void and enabled me to take the next step forward and find my voice. The seven-month journey with my cohort and intense training with executives sharing their real-life key moments and leadership journey were invaluable. The seven months with the EDI Leadership Navigation program was very transformative, to say the least. It gave me the exposure to real-time, real-life executive perspective, insights and soft skills that not even an undergraduate degree will prepare me for. The topics discussed are things that are not necessarily taught in business schools, those are the things and knowledge that can only come from experience. I had several key takeaways, and if I have to drill it down to the top three, these are it:

1) Intent vs. Impact – EDI allowed me to become fully self-aware of my blind spots. I realized that even with good intent, my impact, or others’ perception of my actions, may come across differently. EDI helped me to see those blind spots and navigate through it so that my intent is reflective in my impact.

2) Polarity Management – this is about choosing between two good qualities, but conflicting ones. An example is being authentic and effective. As Colleen Yamaguchi shared, this is about finding the balance between the two areas and being intentional and self-aware so that you balance out the qualities without leaning in too much to one at the expense of the other.

3) Leading Change - at this capstone session, we were given the toolkit to successfully navigate through large-scale organizational change. Change is the only thing that will remain constant in any organization and in life in general. My ah-hah moment is the realization that leading others through organizational change will only be effective if you’ve done the background work to prepare the people for it. Without that key step, the highest level of performance won’t happen. If you’ve worked with the people through the process and brought them to the higher level, they can successfully navigate through anything that comes their way.

A wise person once told me: Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why not perfection? Because perfection is a destination. Once you reach it, what would be next? Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why? Because it’s a journey, you always innovate, improve and grow, and continuously pursue to be the best of whatever you are.

SUCCESS AHEAD

“There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do… and the task we must do is the near”

I was recently promoted to the role of Seattle Controller of Lease Crutcher Lewis, a regional leader in general construction in the Pacific and I am embarking on a new path in my leadership journey. I bring to this role my diversity of thought, first-hand experience, best practices from other organizations, and my collaborative leadership style. I see my current organization, already high-functioning and effective, and I can only see that it gets better from here! EDI has prepared me for this role, and I can’t wait to pour out the goodness and excellence that lies ahead. I still have that poem on my desk from 22 years ago, and I look forward to the positive impact that I bring which will benefit and contribute to the organization’s success. I wanted to end this by quoting the last lines of Malloch’s poem, “If you can’t be a sun, be a star. It isn’t by size that you win or fail, be the best of whatever you are!”

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 - September 2018

Heidi Wolfe (middle) with her London Business School study group

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

Herman Von Keyserling said that “the shortest path to oneself leads around the world.”

If I had come across this quote in my youth I likely would not have understood how truly profound it was. I used to think living abroad was an opportunity to reinvent myself - a way to escape from everything I knew (and everyone that knew me) into the chrysalis of another world and emerge transformed. But it has been over 15 years since my first experience living abroad, and I like to think that I am both a bit older and a bit wiser now. I stumbled upon the words of Von Keyserling a few months ago – as I prepared for yet another international move – and at this point in my life, the simplicity of the quote resonated with me.

I have learned from my past experiences (a study abroad in Hiroshima, Japan and a two-year work assignment in Naples, Italy) that immersing myself in another culture enabled personal growth. But rather than see it as a way to redefine who I am, today I see it as an evolution and part of the journey to discover my true authentic self. Exposure to new ideas forces me to question what I already know and challenge my view of the world; and while some things, particularly those that were normalized by the environment around me, may evolve and change through this experiences, there are many aspects of who I am that remain constant. My core identity is unchanged; the fundamental values that are integral to I who am will remain intact, if not be strengthened, by the experience of living abroad.

I am someone who believes that these types of dramatic changes are necessary for personal growth. And so, after 10 years at the same company and a career in aerospace that has spanned even longer, I finally decided to take off my training wheels and throw myself out into the world. Last month I left my job (as well as my friends, my family, and the comforts of home) behind to pursue an MBA at London Business School (LBS). Change is good, but the uncertainty that accompanies this magnitude of change is simultaneously terrifying.

Heidi Wolfe (white hat) with her London Business School study group

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

After a few weeks of exploring the area, I launched into my coursework at full-speed. A week-long orientation provided inspiration, practical advice, and an opportunity to connect with my classmates. LBS organizes students into “streams” - groups of 80 students who complete all courses together for the first two terms - and “study groups.” Both try to serve as representative examples of the diversity that exists within the class, mixing people from various cultural and career backgrounds. My study group is no exception, and consists of Ege (a Turkish consultant), Tom (a British analyst), Elva (a Chinese banker) and Ashu (an Indian who worked in tech) – we will complete all group projects together for the next two terms. To jump-start our relationship in the first week, we were bussed an hour outside of London to participate in a full day of team building exercises - and true to the area’s reputation, it poured the whole time. After the second week of immersive courses on leadership, ethics and management theory, including a full-day simulation “running” a company with my study group, I am finally settling into a new normal.

So far, it has been an amazing experience and nothing could have prepared me better for this adventure than EDI. Although I was sad to leave my class early, I truly appreciate the opportunity EDI gave me to develop a foundational understanding of who I am - as a leader, a team member, and an individual. EDI taught me the value of vulnerability and opening up about who I am, rather than trying to be someone that I am not simply because it “fits” some people’s view of what a good leader is.

EDI allowed me to step into this experience with the aim of improving upon my authentic self, rather than trying to reinvent myself. It has taken me a long time to distinguish between the two, but I think that I am finally there. In a way, I am hoping that my experiences at London Business School have the same impact on my professional identity. I hope that as I am exposed to new industries, concepts, and ideas that I am able to evolve and expand my horizons, while simultaneously identifying the fundamental values that are important to me in my career. I don’t know where this journey will lead me, but EDI has given me the tools to succeed no matter what the next step is.


Todd Kubo

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2016

After 11 years at two medical device manufacturers where I held multiple roles from Communications, Marketing, Operations, and Leadership – I'm moving forward in my career. I accepted a position as the Labelling Specialist at Natus Medical in Georgetown, south of Seattle. I'll be helping drive improvement and compliance with medical device regulatory and industry changes that continue to evolve. A lot of these efforts will require a paradigm shift within the organization that has been in place for years, so there will be plenty of challenges ahead.

As many of those currently attending EDI or the ones that have graduated from the EDI programs, we all know what I've just stated truly means. A change will be required. New processes and procedures will need to be implemented. I'll be the "new guy" shaking the tree, going against "the way we used to do things", and questioning "how we did it before."

After a career in Advertising and Marketing (leading creative teams), I'll be transitioning to the client-side and medical devices was a welcome change. Skills and training from the years of high-stress, fast-paced creative teams, were valuable tools to have to go to an industry and a side of the business I had not been exposed to.

Todd Kubo

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2016

Attending EDI Navigation in 2016 brought new tools for me to employ, as well as a great reinforcement of the skills I had developed over the years.

The individualized coaching is one of the best benefits of the program that I actually continue today. Having a coach that checks in with you, providing feedback and helping to reinforce the training is huge. Running through EQ scenarios, being aware of yourself (and your authenticity) and commenting on your responses with your coach is always a learning experience. EDI Navigation reminded me to pause (shout-out to Vanna), always take the time to collect your thoughts, to acknowledge the types of individuals you are dealing with, and how best (and sometimes when) to communicate with each individual.

During my career, I've been fortunate to have good mentors, who have supported and encouraged my growth. These people helped instill in me a desire to "pay it forward", as I grew into each leadership position I held. EDI Navigation strengthened my belief that you don't need to be titled a leader to be one.

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.