Today’s Hope High Life Skills guest was the Senior Director of Planning and Analytics at CVS (PMO), Michelle Nguyen. Our host for today’s class, responsible for welcoming Michelle to Hope High School and introducing her to the Life Skills class, was Delvany Soares.
Michelle’s story began with her journey as a 15 year old Viet Namese citizen to America, first to residential Virginia and then onto inner city Philadelphia. “It was culture shock for me.
I was nervous, sometimes fearful.
Our home in Philadelphia was in a poor and dangerous area. We had a bullet shot into our home one day. Unfortunately, my high school had lots of gangs and a strong police presence. But,
I was determined to succeed and I believed education was key.”
Michelle told the class she was very shy as a teenager. “I rarely made eye contact with people during conversations and my voice was was so soft people had a hard time hearing me. I was incredibly shy.“
Michelle’s focus on education in high school paid off. “I worked hard, got very good grades and was admitted to Penn State University in western Pennsylvania. There were over 40,000 students at Penn State. Very soon, I realized that to be the successful person I wanted to be,
I had to change. I forced myself out of my comfort zone
by meeting new people, people who didn’t look like nor think like me….. people with different interests. Most of the people I initially hung around with were like me, Asian students. But I soon learned the value of diversity, in my relationships, in the network I was building. I joined school organizations. It was hard; I often got very nervous. But I worked at it. I didn’t give up regardless of how initially embarrassed I was. I just kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Eventually, I started feeling better about myself; I got more confidence.
Today, my mother can’t believe the changes in me. The fact I am constantly meeting new people. I give presentations all over the country and I have a group of people who report to me at CVS.”
Michelle then shared her ideas about networking.
“My personal network has been invaluable to my success.
I have several mentors, many of whom, are quite different from me in personality, ethnicity and strengths. I continually reach out to my mentors for constructive criticism, different ideas for solving a problem or opinions on different work and personal issues.”
Michelle spoke about her personal brand and how she wanted to be perceived by others. “I try to make sure my brand is about perseverance, never giving up, and kindness.” It was interesting to hear from the Life Skills students how they perceived Michelle’s brand after observing and hearing her speak in class. Words like “intelligent“, “confident” and “successful” were mentioned by the students.
Michelle then spoke about the brand of one of the Hope Life Skills students, Fernando Perez.
“I worked with Fernando last summer at CVS. He was one of the students from this Life Skills class who was chosen for a summer internship in my department. Fernando is amazing. He’s very smart. He is an impressive coder (computer programmer). He was learning some computer programs in days when it took most people weeks or months. Fernando made a remarkable presentation to the CVS staff at the end of his internship. Impressive.
I would love to hire Fernando RIGHT NOW to be part of my analytic team at CVS!“
Finally, our class ended with our usual networking time as students met with Michelle to exchange business cards and add each
other to their personal networks. Michelle’s last suggestion –
“please connect with me on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a very good networking tool. I hope to connect with you soon.”