Ice cold beverages; designer fashion; computer networking and hardware; sound quality and experience. What do all of these things have in common? Aside from being common occurrences in our day-to-day activities, they are also industries that have been heavily influenced by many Asian and Asian American individuals throughout time. In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’d like to highlight five members of the AAPI community who, some unknowingly to us, have had an influence on our everyday lives!
A current Connecticut resident, Indra Nooyi formerly held the role of Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo. for 12 years. During her tenure with PepsiCo., Nooyi re-envisioned the company’s brand strategy and instituted the three-pillared “Performance with a Purpose” campaign to reclassify products with consumer health and wellness in mind, rethink product production and packaging to reduce waste and decrease the company’s carbon footprint, and improve company culture through employee recognition, retention, and rewards. Currently, Nooyi serves on the Amazon board of directors and is also the Co-Director of the Connecticut-Economic Resource Center, helping to create the state’s economic development strategy. Nooyi has been named in both The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (Forbes) and Most Powerful Women in Business (Fortune) lists, is a recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Business award by the League of Women Voters of CT, and also inducted into the National Women Hall of Fame.
An art history major and once competitive figure skater, Vera Wang has become one of the most internationally known names in designer fashion and homewares. After receiving her degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Wang was hired as the youngest editor ever at Vogue magazine where she worked for 17 years before going on to work for Ralph Lauren and eventually become an independent fashion designer. As an independent designer, Wang set her sights on bridal gowns and later expanded into elegant evening wear. She has dressed celebrities, politicians, and even professional athletes including Olympic figure skating champions and NFL cheerleaders. Wang’s impressive designs though are not just for the rich and famous, her brand can also be found for the everyday shopper in retail outlets like Kohl’s, David’s Bridal, and Men’s Wearhouse.
Victor and Janie Tsao
This husband and wife business partner team first met while pursuing their bachelor’s degrees at Tamkang University in Tamsui, Taiwan. After moving to the U.S. in the late 1970s for employment and continuing education, the Tsaos worked in various industries including IT, retail, and food manufacturing. In 1988 the couple founded a home business, DEW International, from their garage; the company was later renamed to its now more famous moniker, Lynksys. The first products the Tsao’s brought to market were printer sharers that allowed multiple computers to be connected to a printer at the same time, they then expanded the business to include home networking products like ethernet hubs, network cards, and routers. The company really took off in the mid-1990s when Microsoft released Windows 95 and they entered the retail space in places like Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics. In the early 2000’s Lynksys was acquired by technology giant Cisco and eventually the home networking division was sold to Belkin in 2013.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, Amar Bose began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 13 when he started his own business to help supplement his family’s income during WWII. With an interest in electronics, Bose hired friends to help fix radios and toy trains from his home and earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT. While researching acoustics at MIT, Bose was inspired to create the Bose Corporation after being disappointed that stereo equipment at the time was incapable of replicating the sound quality associated with real performance. More committed to research and invention than business ventures and profit, Amar Bose decided to keep the company private and in 2011 donated the majority of the company’s non-voting shares to MIT in efforts to help advance the school’s research and education mission. Bose passed away in 2013 at the age of 83, but the company remains true to his legacy stating on their website, “The primary vision of our founders wasn’t about making quick money. It was about inventing new technologies that would truly benefit people.”
Pictures and biography content courtesy of Wikipedia and Inc. Magazine.