Empowering Female Asian Professionals

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Asian/Pacific Women’s Executive Forum at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Torrance

Jane Pak: Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Women Business Owners, LA Chapter

Wanda Wen: CEO and Founder of Soolip Paperie & Press

Cynthia Yu: Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Honorable Holly Fujie: Judge, Superior Court of Los Angeles County

Yuko Kaifu: Senior VP, Corporate Communications Department, Union Bank

Tracey Doi: Group VP and Chief Financial Officer, Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc.


Atended this wonderful executive forum tonight with my fellow Deborah companion– probably one of the select few friends I have that will someday outshine ALL of these women on this panel with her positive outlook on life and vivacious ambition.

All of these Asian professionals share one thing in common: Ambition, motivation, perseverance, the ability to defy the Asian stereotype of deference and submission, class, humor, and girl power. It was extremely humbling and gratifying to hear about all of their experiences: their “failures” and learning from those, the point when they realized they needed to stand up for themselves and take pride in who they were, how the majority of them weren’t even that “Asian” at all growing up (I couldn’t help but smirk), etc.

I may poke fun at Asians and myself, for that matter, just because I can, and because I’m good-humored about it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t respect my culture– I’m just not that in touch with my roots being yonsei (fourth) generation. Not gonna lie, it was refreshing to listen to these Asian women speak about their careers, family life, their upbringing, college experience, internships, etc. — truth is, we’re all human. We all can relate to each other in some way or another. The difference is in how we choose to share our experiences, and reach out and connect to others. We all have the power to touch another’s life through our words and actions. It was just really empowering to hear all of these successful women speak about their experiences and lessons learned while overcoming obstacles. Yes, they were all Asian (minorities, as seen by our society), and yes, they were all women– but they kick ass and are living some pretty phenomenal lives. Race, sexual orientation, political views, religion, opinions, etc. should NEVER separate one from another– we all have the right to be who we want to be, and these women proved that you can attain success and happiness if you truly want it.

Wisdom from Wanda Wen:

“Don’t wait to do what you love. Do what you love now. Do what sings to your heart. Now is the right time to do things.”

My thoughts: “Bloody hell, I’m doing the right thing by moving to New Zealand. I really am.”

“It can be done. If you’re passionate about something, it’s part of your breath.”

“Everyone has something important & good enough to do while on earth – own it.”

“Failure is just a bump in the road…a challenge to overcome.”

It was also quite reassuring to know that “you won’t know where you will be in 15 years. No one does.” I may have a huge Excel spreadsheet with multiple tabs about my life plan and things on my bucket list… but in reality, I can’t predict what will happen to me. I can’t even predict what will happen tomorrow. I know where I ideally would like to be in 1, 5, 10 years, but what I think now may change in a couple weeks, months, or years. Obviously. I can hope and wish for the best as I embark on my next journey that will hopefully land me a position in the travel PR/marketing industry and turn my career into an exploration of the world with plenty of challenges and risks on a daily basis.

Such is life. And I flipping love that. The uncertainty of life, the spontaneity of life, various twists and turns, unexpected journeys, adventures, hiccups, challenges, lessons… it’s what makes my life my own. A friend told me today that I really live life on the edge. I love that she mentioned that…. SINCE IT’S SO TRUE. Nothing holds me back, I just go. Heights? Love ’em. Bugs? Wanted to be an entomologist when I was little. Bungee jumping? Hells yes. Trying just about any new cultural food or dance or anything in general? You bet. I’m all about this stuff. I LIVE FOR IT. 

I will never regret a day of my life, and I will always be proud of my Japanese-American (and Hawaiian, if you count the fact that my dad and his entire side of the family was brought up in Hawaii) descent.


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