Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Career Transitions panel emphasized: Make your “someday, I’ll do this…” to “everyday, I'll do this…”

Over seventy people attended the “Career Transitions” panel on September 8 at the Seattle Design Center. State Farm Insurance sponsored the event and they worked with NAAAP-Seattle, NSHMBA, and National Black MBA Association to organize it. The panel was followed by professional resume reviews.

The panelists included: Albert Torres, CEO and publisher of Tu Decides Newspapers; Ted Yamamura, Regional Director at the Boeing Company; Jeffrey Taylor, State Farm Insurance Agent; and Norman Sigler, who has his own executive search and coaching firm.

The panelists represented a wide range of experiences.

Torres described growing up as a migrant farm laborer to working at Microsoft as a computer science engineer and then establishing Washington’s first bilingual Spanish-English newspaper with his wife and a group of investors.

“The only thing we regret is not having done it earlier,” said Torres. “We have this phrase, ‘someday, I’ll do this…’. Find something you love so that you can make your ‘someday’ an ‘everyday.’ It’s not where the dream takes you, but where you take the dream.”

Taylor grew up in Illinois, home to State Farm Insurance headquarters. He started his 23-year career with the company as a college intern and climbed the corporate ranks.

He was being relocated every few years between headquarters and the regional offices until he realized he wanted to plant his roots in one place and be connected to his community. That is when he decided to become a State Farm insurance agent himself. He owns an agency in Columbia City.

“Instead of asking ‘what do I want to do,’ you should describe your ideal work setting,” said Taylor. “When you do that, you’ll know your passion.”

Ted Yamamura started at the Boeing Company 30 years ago as an engineer; 15 years later, he moved to sales. For those who want to make a transition and move up in their companies, Yamamura stressed the importance of networking and personal branding.

“To be successful, networking is 70% and work is 30%,” said Yamamura. “If people don’t know you did it, it doesn’t matter if you did the work.”

Yamamura is a former NAAAP-Seattle President and the co-founder of the Executive Development Institute.

Like Torres and Taylor, Sigler decided to become an entrepreneur after years of working in corporate America. Today, he runs his own successful executive search firm.

Sigler said those considering career transitions should maximize their previous experience as they strategize the next step in their professional life.

“You have to know the business in order to help your clients and understand what they need,” said Sigler. “I went from working in corporations to finding executives for corporations.”

Audience member Toni Thomas said the panelists “knew how to answer audience’s questions and gave real answers.”

She said her take-home lesson was, “When you have a passion, you have to ask questions of yourself. You have to move on that passion and just do it. If you can’t answer the questions, just look for help. There are many opportunities for support and follow through.”

This event marked the first time this year NAAAP-Seattle partnered with the National Association of Black MBAs and the third time it has partnered with NSHMBA.

Thomas added she was impressed by the diversity of the audience.

Claims agent Emma Molinar said State Farm Insurance sponsored the event not only to potentially recruit those interested in starting their own agencies, but to also show “State Farm supports diversity, and that we reach out to diverse communities.”

For first-time attendee to a NAAAP-Seattle event, Shinichi Ogawa noted, “It’s great to see Asians step out and intermix more. It’s a great mix of cultures.”

Attendees also had ample time to network.

“I’m excited to meet both young professional and seasoned professionals to get their advice,” said Joshua Wei, a recent college graduate.

“I came because the topics look interesting, but I’m surprised by how friendly people are and how easy it has been to meet new people,” said Robert Ng, an engineer at Boeing and a first-time NAAAP-Seattle event attendee.

For more information on the NAAAP-Seattle Professional Development events and program, please contact NAAAP-Seattle Professional Development Chair Hang Chen at

Photos: (top, front left to right) Norman Sigler, Jeffrey Taylor, Ted Yamamura, Albert Torres, Stephanie Jordan; (center) audience; (bottom) Shinichi Ogawa and Joshua Wei.

1 comment:

  1. It was a profitable event in so many ways - learning and networking. Transition is not an easy thing to navigate. The event realy helps new and seasoned professionals connect and not feel alone. It was particularly heartwarming to see the Black and Hispanic MBAs there as well.

    Theresa Froehlich
    Transition Coach