By Yuxiao Yuan, NAAAP Boston
A dynamic gathering of over 300 attendees and 19 sponsors and partners
The exciting day started with five Asian professional leaders from industry-leading companies sharing their personal stories about their leadership journey with over 300 attendees in the Second Leadership Forum. The event was held by the National Association of Asian American Professionals – Boston Chapter (NAAAP Boston) on Sept. 14, at the Hilton Back Bay Hotel.
“The Second Annual Leadership Forum has been another phenomenal success,” said Eric Lam, the President of the NAAAP Boston, noting that last year’s inaugural event was honored with the Chapter Excellent Programming Award. NAAAP National Office bestowed this award to recognize the Leadership Forum as one of the best programs throughout all of the 27 NAAAP chapters extending across North America.
“This year, we expanded the scale of the conference, and more Asian professionals showed their interest,” Lam added. “The Leadership Forum has become a practical platform for young professionals to come and learn about leadership from senior directors, and network with other professionals with various backgrounds.” We designed it to inspire, and the hype and feedback from this forum exceeded our wildest expectations.
In her Keynote Speech, Flora Sah, the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for State Street Corporation’s Enterprise Risk Management, discussed her personal leadership journey and offered advice to Asian professionals in how to use Asian cultural tendencies as an access rather than limitation.
“We tend to sometimes avoid conflict, we tend to sometimes avoid politics, we tend to sometimes try not to make a mistake” said Sah, who successfully built the technology center in China for State Street from ground zero to thousands of employees. She suggested that the Asian professionals should “raise their hands, take initiatives to expand their careers”. She introduced the idea of being a parachute packer, and explained it to us that if your boss trust you enough to pack his parachute as he’s jumping out of a plane, you are the person that he/she will hold to the highest esteem in your profession.
This year’s Leadership Forum also featured a Panel Presentation on “Awakening the Leader in You.”
Tina Wong-Russell, an Executive Consultant and Coach, engaged four panelists in sharing their opinions on the definition of “a leader”, their personal leadership styles, their personal weaknesses, and situations as opportunities to show leadership.
Su Joun, the Senior Director of Talent, Inclusion & Mobility at Blue Cross Blue Shield, said that her experience of having a language barrier in kindergarten taught her to be more inclusive. Juon successfully applied this inclusive policy to her and her company’s benefit later in her career, bringing together people and teams to improve individual and organizational performance and morale. Raymond Han, the Managing Director at Accenture, emphasized the importance of hard work. Han also said that it is critical for a good leader to always listen to team members’ thoughts and concerns and to trust his team members.
Roger Young, the Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer at National Grid, stressed developing relationship and technological know-hows in a global environment. Throughout his career, he had taken on managerial roles in all aspects of his company, and reaped the benefit of managing through different styles and across different platforms.
Yek Cheng, Vice President and Actuary of Corporate Finance at MassMutual Financial Group, declared that he is an introverted person. In terms of his own leadership style, the thoughtfulness and conciseness of what he does say is critical. “Even though I always speak last, I found when you present the right ideas, people will listen,” Cheng said.
“The wonderful thing about the Leadership Forum is that it has a lot of aspects and a lot of opportunities,” said Stephanie Kan, the Leadership Forum Director. “You can gain wonderful advice from hearing from our speakers about how to really open up and create your own leadership. You can network with a vast amount of business professionals who share your goals.”
NAAAP Boston has 29 corporate sponsors and partners, among which 19 companies attended the Career and Informational Fair.
Amy Chen, the Director of Multicultural Development at MassMutual Financial Group, said its sponsorship of NAAAP Boston is based on their mutual value. “I saw how collaborative people are in this organization, how professional they are, and also the things they do for the community here is very important.” Chen said. “We really value diversity and we love to partner with organization like NAAAP, whose goal is to develop Asian leaders.”
Leverett Wing, the Vice Chair of Governor’s Asian American Commission (Governor’s AAC), said NAAAP’s diverse membership helps Governor’s AAC to reach out a wider range of communities. “Our big mission is civic engagement,” Wing said, and “NAAAP brings a very unique demographic to our endeavors.”
Parveen Pathak, a Financial Analyst and a part-time MBA student from Suffolk University, said he discovered many connections with other professionals and companies at the Leadership Forum. “When people trust you, they can give you the reference to someone else and you can move on a lot faster.”
The panelists’ emphasis on the importance of establishing relationships resonated with him and he was able to immediately put this into practice by networking with the over 300 attendees.
NAAAP Boston is the largest Asian professional organization in Greater Boston with over 425 members and 29 sponsors and partners and continues to grow. The Leadership Forum continues to expand to provide unique professional development programs and great networking opportunities to diverse professionals and companies. For more information, visit www.naaapboston.org/leadership forum.aspx.