Meet Tram Nguyen of Southern Company Gas. Learn how she learned to run a restaurant by the age of 10, loves photography, and considers the ‘Women in Utilities conference’ an important tool for women in to make a difference.
Meet her in person May 20-21, 2019 in New Orleans at The 4th Power Conference to ADVANCE Women in Utilities, where he she will present a case study on establishing an Employee Resource Group.
Question: Name, title, company?
Tram Nguyen, Director of Regulatory and Gas Accounting at Southern Company Gas (Sequent Energy Management) based in Houston, Texas.
Question: Family, hometown, where you live?
I came to the USA from Vietnam on July 24, 1986. I only had two outfits and didn’t speak any English since I never thought I would have a chance to come to America. I am the second child in my family of seven. When I turned 10, I already knew how to run a restaurant as I was always helping my parents with their business. Since that time, cooking has become a talent of mine. I never attended high school in the U.S. as I only started learning the English alphabet when I was 21. Language was a barrier for me, so I gave up my dream to become a language teacher (French). I graduated from college in 1993 with a degree in Accounting and since then, have been working in the accounting field mostly supporting non-regulated wholesale trading. I am married and have two children. My daughter, Nhi Hoang, is 25 years old and graduated with a doctorate in Pharmacy. My son, Kevin Hoang, is 18 years old and as a Freshman at the University of Texas, a Future American Doctor (he has not told me what he wants to become – I found his field based on the clubs he joined at UT). My lovely husband, Thuan Hoang, works at Texas Instruments for 33 years as a Semiconductor Product Engineer.
Question: What is your utility experience?
I have been very blessed during m career of 26 years. I earn trust and respect from people who I work with and for. I am passionate with every task and always give my best. There is one phrase that I keep in mind, “never defer your best to tomorrow since it might not come, give your best for today.” I never thought I would be a member on a management team because in my mind, I am not American, English is my second language, and additionally, I am very petite. The first time I was promoted to supervisor, I was so shocked and lacked the confidence to be a good supervisor, so I ‘returned’ the promotion letter to my boss and graciously declined. After a long ‘convincing’ conversation, I agreed to take on my new responsibility the Summer of 2000. When I look back on my journey, I question myself – did I really go this far and succeed this much? The answer is a very simple – yes. I did and I am not the only Asian woman that is successful.
Question: What do you like to do when you’re not working? Hobbies?
I love cooking. I love scrap-booking and recently I got a new camera and joined the professional photographer club. I would love to have you all come and visit my ‘gallery’ in Fall 2019, at Vietnam Photographic Art Society (VPAS) in Houston, Texas.
Question: Notable achievements?
The word ‘leader’ means more than just a title itself. It is really something untouchable, but it does impact lives for so many people. Why is that? I believe if you can win over your co-workers’ minds and hearts, you will directly touch their lives, and this does not happen overnight. It is a relationship that you build over time and when you earn this trust when your time is at its peak. I am a soft-spoken leader – I am shy and afraid to speak in front of a large group. Thanks tot he ERG-SOAR Texas chapter, I will be able to practice this skill set more frequently and look, here I am today sharing my story with you. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak at the conference to ADVANCE Women in Utilities.
Question: Where do you see ‘Women in Utilities’ in two-to-five years?
The percentage of women in utilities workforce has increased in the last 10 years. However, the women in utilities that hold leadership positions has not changed. The ‘Women in Utilities’ conference is the important tool for us to make the difference. Women need to support women and women need to give women the opportunity to shine and that should be the focus for us to work on to succeed at this goal.
Question: Who are a couple of your role models (and why)?
My first role model is my mom. She teaches me how to become a mom. It sounds easy and simple, but it is not. It is a life giving, and unconditional love, it is not only patience but also listening to your child’s needs and wants. My second role model is my co-workers. I have learned so much from each of the in many ways from many different background and cultures. They make me laugh and make me cry. They give me the motivation to getup every morning to come to work. My last role model is my children. God brought them into my life and because of them, I will never give up on any challenge, they give me the strength.
Question: What is one of your biggest goals (in life or business)?
As a leader, nothing makes me happier than witnessing my staff’s success at every stage of their career. I always keep these 3 questions in me: Who am I? What is my purpose of life? How can I serve others?
Question: What’s the biggest misconception you run into in your role (or what people seem to think about Women in Utilities?
There are many misconceptions tat I see in my role, here are a few: Managing people is easy. Title means everything. Conference will not get you where you want to go or what you want to get, it is all networking.