Inspiring Across Generations: Hear From Three Booz Allen Ascend IAG Award-Winners

Nov 20, 2018 3:45 PM ET

In the United States, the Pan-Asian population—whose 32-plus ethnic groups include Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese—is expected to triple to 40 million in the next 40 years. Ascend serves this population as the largest, non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America. It reaches out to 60,000 people with leadership programming for all career levels and initiatives like its annual Inspiring Across Generations (IAG) awards for mentorship, leadership, and board service. 

At Ascend’s 2018 regional conference hosted by the Greater Washington chapter in Crystal City, Virginia, three Booz Allen employees received the following recognitions:

  • Michael Dumlao, Booz Allen brand director, Inspirational Leader
  • Zach Heng, Associate Project Manager in Booz Allen’s Civil Services Group , High-Impact Leader
  • Bara Hur, strategic consultant in Booz Allen’s cyber commercial practice, Rising Star.

Here Michael, Zach, and Bara talk about their work with Ascend and the Pan-Asian community and what these awards mean to them.

How did you get involved with Ascend?

Zach had been president of his college’s Asian-American student union at Florida State University and first became involved with Ascend years ago with a previous employer. “As an Asian born in America and not quite fitting in with some of my peers, I had a lot of identity challenges growing up. I found a family in Ascend.”

In late-2016, he recruited his Booz Allen colleague Bara to work with him on Ascend’s marketing. The two of them then introduced Michael to the organization—and its value.

“To compete against the Microsofts, Amazons, Ubers, and Apples of the world, it’s important for Booz Allen to have a strong posture among the Pan-Asian community and be seen as an employer of choice,” said Michael.

Why is Ascend's work and mission important?

Michael sees involvement with Ascend as a complement to his work with the LGBT community and how Booz Allen embraces diversity and intersectionality, with the end goal of building a society that is truly equitable and inclusive for all.

“We’ve all harbored different privileges and been excluded in different ways,” he said. “Having an organization that elevates people from Pan-Asian descent is something that’s very special and very necessary.”  

“Ascend helps business professionals in the Asian community really tap into their strengths and what they can bring to the table and be shaped into the leaders they can be,” said Bara.

What does this award mean for you personally?

For Bara, “this award is a big deal. As a young Asian woman, at times it seems like I’m swimming against the current, especially when we’re stereotyped as submissive or not in leadership roles. This award proves the negative and inaccurate stigmas wrong and is an emblem of what can be done.”

“As a queer person of color, an immigrant, and a person of Filipino heritage, I’m leading in an intersectional manner,” said Michael. “To have a group of predominantly straight people honor me says a lot about Ascend and how they view diversity. It was a great coming home for me.”

“It’s been a privilege to be in position to help build the Greater Washington chapter and help grow the next generation of leaders,” said Zach. “I’ve created an impact, but a lot of people have impacted me greatly as well.”

Learn more about how Booz Allen embraces diversity and inclusion.