The Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) is a nonprofit aimed at developing the professional and leadership skills of its membership, celebrating diversity, and giving back to local communities. One regional and one national conference are held each year to provide its members with an excuse to hang out and eat everything in the neighborhood learn from other professionals and speakers.

Now that that’s out of the way.. This past Midwest Regional Conference was my 7th SASE conference and 1st as a professional. It was a blast to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. The Twin Cities were absolutely gorgeous (and thankfully snow-less), and the host chapter from UMN did a fantastic job at executing the conference (the regional team and I were meeting with them on Hangouts almost weekly in the run-up to the event).

In a bid to actually make it seem like I learned something, here are my take-homes from the workshops:

Diversity and Globalization in Medtech

(Martin Tze, Yong Cho, Kelly Wei, Gaurav Jain- Medtech)

This was a panel that discussed its members’ experiences working in multiple locations across the world with diverse teams. Regarding American work culture:

“It’s better to speak up and be wrong, than to stay silent.”

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mr. Martin is himself an immigrant from Kuching, Malaysia. I asked him if/how he stayed connected to his roots, and his response was honest: “Frankly, I do a bad job. I haven’t visited in 7 years, and I waited for 4 years after graduation before visiting.”

I promise it won’t take me 4 years! :'(

Cross-Cultural Journey From Engineer to President

(Shyam P. Kameyanda – President for Hydraulics, Eaton)

Mr. Shyam shared his life experiences going from a new graduate to president of his division in Eaton over the course of 20 or so years. I think the main point I got from his talk were (approximately):

“Don’t be afraid to say yes to an opportunity, even if it isn’t clear how it directly helps your goal.”

He had a position in the States, but just a few years after college was asked if he was willing to help support a plant in Mexico. He took the leap and as a result, when he returned years later, he was valued by management due to the sacrifice he had made for the company.

6E’s: Redefine Your Leadership

(Jaily Zeng, Ruijun Zheng – SASE National Leadership Initiative Team)

Went out to this one simply to support my friends, Ruijun and Jaily. They had some fun activities (explains the Play-Doh picture on my Instagram) and did a great job explaining the 6E online tool (which I’m still neglecting to check out).

Panel: Life After College

(Kevin Um, Mai Yer Lee, Alicia Dang, Tony Truong, Banha Sok – Assorted SASE UMN Alumni)

This was… Unexpected? Hilarious? This panel (tried) to answer questions from the audience regarding their experiences being responsible adults, and most of the hilarity was a result of Banha going off on tangents and forgetting the original question he was asked. It was also amusing to hear them describe companies with 1,000 employees as ‘small’ (I work with 10 people).

Other than all that, I spent a small amount on stage with my lovely regional team, a good amount of time explaining Multiply’s mission and products to people, and a great amount of time waiting for delayed and/or missed flights. Oh, Minneapolis’ trains have fake locomotive whistle sound effects. Cracked me up so much on the platform.

Until the next conference! #DallasReady

Photos courtesy of SASE UMN.