Picture 2 NAAAP

Professional development opportunities offered through NAAAP membership.

By Pok Payattakool Sergent

Are you just starting a new career? A college student soon to graduate and enter the workforce? Or perhaps you are mid-career reviewing possible job change? No matter where you are in your career journey, consider joining the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) or attend one of the many events held on a monthly basis.

Over half of jobs results from networking; in other words “from knowing someone.” I attended two NAAAP events to meet other Asians and Asian Americans in the Denver area. My personal experiences with this organization has been very positive.

The “Ignite your passion” leadership event at the Schwab Center in south Denver on May 15, 2015 had over 80 attendees. The panel discussion ranged from discrimination to how to overcome it to knowing your passion and priorities to perseverance through a health crisis to one’s pursuit of excellence.

The panelists were: Judge Hada, Leona Tang, Paul Kay, Val Stillwell, and Michelle Sie Whitten,  and it was moderated led by Jean Lo, national liaison of NAAAP of Colorado. The evening had been eye-opening for me.The leadership meetings and panel discussions that I had attended in college or at work did not have many Asians (at most one.); the speakers and panelists were almost always white. This was the first time in my life that I had the opportunity to see a whole panel of Asian-Americans who “made” it… And they were there to share their stories with me, with us, the Asian-American community! The panelists spoke right from the heart, to help the people who attended rise to another level and to impart to us valuable lessons they had learned climbing up the corporate ladder.

The second event was a couple of weeks later, an event of leadership lessons from the Rear Admiral Kerry Meetz at the DU Daniels College of business. Meetz serves as the first commander of the special operations command North, a subordinate unified command of US operations command under the operational control of US Northern command. In his one hour talk, the Rear Admiral had the audience (about 30 in all) enrapt in stories of valor and leadership, in telling us what it takes to be a leader of leaders. I came away from that event, inspired and patriotic. He is a great American hero, and I was glad I went.

I have decided to join NAAAP, and I’m encouraging others to join too! This is an entirely volunteer run organization, and the people here are dedicated to its cause. To learn more visit www.naaapcolorado.org.

Not only did I learn valuable leadership skills and lessons, I now have my contacts and friends in several industries: education, software engineering, nonprofit and finance. Maybe I will see YOU at a future event!