In 2002, I celebrated my 20-year wedding anniversary, had my 20-year anniversary with Texas Instruments (TI), had a 40th birthday, became the first female elected Senior Fellow at TI, and was recognized as National Technologist of the Year. When one of my colleagues asked me which of these milestones was most important, I told her it was the day I drove my oldest son to school on his first day in the fifth grade! I strongly believe a harmonious work/life balance is keyto success. While my job, speaking engagements, and community service often take me away from my home, I always hold family as my top priority, and it provides the foundation for my life.
I am the seventh child in a family of six daughters and three sons. I grew up in a country where often only sons receive higher education, but my father dreamed big and told me when I was six years old that I would be an engineer.
In 1975, I left Vietnam with my family of nine women and children to seek refuge in America. My mother, with the help of my older sisters, started anew life in America without her husband and eldest son. When we arrived, we had only $80 to support our entire family. I learned a great deal from my mother’s courage, witnessed my sisters’ hard work, and was blessed with the opportunities of this land we call America.
Four years after coming to America, and determined to honor my father who was stuck behind in Vietnam, I graduated high school as valedictorian at the age of 16, teaching myself English at night after the rest of my family had gone to bed. Three years later, I graduated magna cum laude with a BSEE from the University of Texas and married.
I began my career at TI in 1982. While working full time during the day, I attended the University of Houston at night and obtained my MBA in May 1989. By this time, my father had escaped from Vietnam by crossing the Thailand-Vietnam border on foot and could proudly attend the graduation ceremony.
The best advice I can give to young professionals is to work hard, stay focused on what’s important to YOU, and care enough to help others. Each one of us has the ability to improve our own situations, control our destiny, and create opportunities for others along the way … but we can only accomplish this when we apply not only our minds, but also our hearts.