What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you? Why do you think it is important?
AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the contributions and achievements of Asian American Pacific Islanders in both the private and public sector. Like many diversity and equity opportunities, it gives us a chance to reflect on how essential it is to have that diversity of background in our work, our personal relationships and in our views of the world around us.
The theme for AAPI Heritage Month this year is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration”. How do you think we can all work to achieve this goal?
The most important part of collaboration is knowing the others around us – being able to see each individual and value the contribution of each background and view. Collaboration does not mean we will all agree. In fact, it means that all views will come together and engage in meaningful dialogue. But collaboration means, that in the end, we will look to the value of all views and come to a consensus on the way forward. As someone once said to me – ‘Consensus does not mean that we all get to do it our way – It means that we can live with the action or outcome’.
Who or what inspired you to work in public service?
I was very fortunate to be asked to interview for my first government position as the CIO in Michigan. The newly elected Governor Jennifer Granholm gave me some great advice. ‘You have had a successful career in business, now is your time to give back’.
The second influence was Governor Schwarzenegger who was always open to say and paraphrase - where else but America could an individual who came to as a teen age body builder, be able to achieve success. He as always grateful for what the country had given him and his role in giving back.
Finally, there is no way that anyone can work at the Department of Defense without being in total awe of the men and women in uniform. Every day in the Pentagon was focused on that could be done to support them in their role in defense of the country.
What is something you are excited about right now?
Government is realizing the role that technology plays in everything that is done. Not only in support of ‘back room’ functions but in actively supporting the constituent – both citizen and businesses. Trust in government will be driven by our ability to provide safe, equitable, and focused services driven by technology.
What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?
Public service is not a job – it is a feeling and a calling. Whether it is someone’s first job, a transition job, or how they want to end their career, that feeling never goes away. One can come into public service, leave and come back but it is the ability to impact lives that provides the difference in playing a role in public service.
Was there a transformational experience in your life that relates to public service?
Not sure this is a transformational experience but one thing that gives me a great deal of satisfaction is hearing from individuals who I have worked with in my public service roles and knowing that I may have helped them in some small way. This might have been supporting them as individuals, supporting a project or initiative or in developing a direction or strategy. In the end, it is all about people and knowing that I have had some small impact is rewarding.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice that I give myself is to continue to look forward. This advice comes from so many sources – it is not new. As Eleanor Roosevelt as said – ‘you must do the thing that you think you cannot do.’