UPDATED 15:08 EDT / MAY 18 2023


Oak Rocket’s CEO Dao Jensen’s inspiring story: Honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The month of May celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, reminding everyone of the valuable and significant contributions Asian Americans have contributed to the country while overcoming various forms of adversary.

Dao Jensen (pictured), chief executive officer of Oak Rocket Inc., recently shared her story of being a Vietnamese refugee raised in Minnesota by entrepreneurial parents.

“I’ve always been inspired to achieve great things, and I became the first Asian female to be voted as the youth governor of the state of Minnesota when I was 17,” Jensen said. “In 2013, I founded Oak Rocket, formerly known as Kaizen Technology Partners, as the first West Coast female minority-owned corporation in the cloud for AWS. Of the 9,000 partners out there, there are only female-owned companies out there in the U.S. for AWS.”

Jensen spoke with theCUBE industry analyst Lisa Martin during an exclusive Women of the Cloud interview on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed how Jensen started her journey as a tech leader, recommendations she has for others looking to grow careers in tech and the biggest changes in tech she’s witnessed in the past five years. (* Disclosure below.)

Equalizing the workforce

Cloud-adoption consulting and services firm Oak Rocket’s portfolio includes clients such as Jackson Hewitt, Gainsight, SolarCity, Jim Breuer and Nasdaq. Establishing strong relationships with these customers is very important, as well as having champions, advocates and sponsors, according to Jensen.

“It’s important when you’re in cloud that you’re not just learning about cloud, but that you understand the data center world and the software world, and you understand how they all interact together,” she said. “And it’s also important to network with professionals by attending industry events to be able to keep up, maybe not every year, but at least every other year, about what’s going on.”

While the implementation of inclusion, diversity and equity in tech industries has improved in previous years, there are still measures to be taken to make all employees feel completely equal and heard. It’s not enough to bring talent in. There must be equal representation in every role to reduce the isolation otherwise felt by underrepresented demographics.

“Ultimately, that hinders the innovation and global economic distribution of the world, because women are the ones who take care of their families and the next generation in many cases,” Jensen said. “We need to be able to implement these initiatives through mentorship programs and executive succession.”

Since joining the tech workforce, Jensen witnessed firsthand the many evolutions and innovations occurring during the recent tech revolution. Although artificial intelligence and machine learning isn’t new technology the technologies becoming increasingly available to the average person is a relatively new development.

“AI is now a word, because everyone can see it on their phone and use it from a day-to-day perspective,” Jensen said. “These technologies are revolutionizing the world, and they’re now becoming integral in our day-to-day life. I think remote work and collaborative tools have become increasingly prevalent and offer a lot more flexibility and efficiency in the workforce.”

Technologies such as AI and ML might make tech jobs easier by automating previously tedious tasks. The biggest step the world can take toward a more inclusive and technological-forward future is making sure education is readily available for everyone, according to Jensen. Luckily, this is much easier than it was years ago, especially as COVID boosted the availability of online classes.

“I didn’t even know what Java was when I first started in Sun Microsystems or who Sun was,” Jensen said. “I think just education and broadening people’s minds is the biggest thing we can do to help underrepresented groups and give them opportunities to slowly grow into the tech world and give them a competitive advantage.”

The conversation ended with Jensen imparting some advice she’d give her own younger self. Her first piece of advice is that, sometimes, things happen for a reason. She cited the example of her own youth and getting into Harvard despite her own doubts. Another piece of advice she’d give her younger self is not to get in her own way.

“Don’t let yourself get in the way. Live a life you love powerfully and one you love. Don’t mind going against the mainstream, and inspire others to live the same way,” she said.

Here’s the complete video interview with Dao Jensen, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the “Special Program Series: Women of the Cloud” event:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the special “Women of the Cloud” program series. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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