Profiles in Diversity Journal Second Quarter 2022

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2022

Director, Global Marketing

ASIAN

LEADERS Worth Watching

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Be Patient and Confident, and Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Education: Bachelor of Science, computer science, University of California, Berkeley; Master’s, MIT Sloan School of Management Company Name: HARMAN Industry: Technology Company CEO: Michael Mauser Company Headquarters Location: Stamford, Connecticut Number of Employees: 30,000+ Your Location (if different from above): New York City Metropolitan Area Words you live by: Believe. Preparation. Endurance. Who is your personal hero? My grandfather. He grew up in the rural Chinese countryside and only received an elementary school education, and he made his first life-changing decision, on his own, to join the army at age fifteen. From that point on, he began his lifelong journey of never giving up on learning and pursuing a higher purpose in life. The persistence and belief he maintained is truly inspirational to me. What book are you reading? The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson What was your first job: My first job was in IT at a software security company. Favorite charity: My favorite charity is the Clean Energy Innovation Program at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Interests: I love to travel. Family: Family is essential, especially once I became a mom.

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One of the biggest challenges I have overcome arose early in my life and taught me life lessons that I still think of today. When I moved to the United States from China, I was thirteen years old and barely spoke any English. At school, I struggled with schoolwork. It became the most depressing period of my life, on top of the already difficult and awkward experience of entering my teenage years. I remember being in my literature and history classes watching as all of my classmates finished the readings in fifteen to thirty minutes, while I was still stuck working through the meaning of the first two sentences. Of course, my grades were impacted, until finally the school administration recommended to my parents that I should start with English as a Second Language (ESL) classes before integrating with the standard English-speaking classes. It was absolutely devastating news to me. I thought that taking ESL classes made me too different from the other children my age, and at age thirteen, the last thing you want is to be perceived as weird or the odd one out.

I also learned my first lesson in life: be patient, believe in yourself, and more important, prepare, prepare, prepare. I have always believed that preparation is essential to success, and to this day I strive to be properly prepared.

So, I chose to forego the ESL classes and simply told myself that I could do it—I could handle “regular” American school and be just like other kids my age. I was committed to spending all of my free time studying, even staying up late at night reading ahead of the school assignment and reviewing each chapter at least three times. Slowly—at the time it felt like forever—everything started to make more sense to me. I began to notice repeated words, and understand sentences. I started to feel more confident and participate in class, which helped me learn even more. It didn’t happen quickly; it took me more than six months to get a strong enough grasp on the language. The school recognized my progress and commended me for it. I was thrilled to be “the same” as my fellow classmates. I also learned my first lesson in life: be patient, believe in yourself, and more important, prepare, prepare, prepare. I have always believed that preparation is essential to success, and to this day I strive to be properly prepared.

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Jennifer Liang