Name: Katy Doan
Title: Vice President of Finance
Organisation: Project Management Institute (PMI) Houston
Katy Doan is an executive leader with a proven track record of executing strategic vision and driving organizational performance across firm operations, business development and finance management at global corporation ($32 billion) as an CFO - Vice President of Finance, Regional Controller.
Katy has an outstanding track record of more than 20 years of building world-class corporation and developing the accounting, finance, project management, IT, HR… departments to grow them. She is a regular commentator on international financial markets and investment strategy, with experience in private equity, international investment banking, global financial markets and portfolio management at major Texas, California, Florida… firms.
As CFO - Vice President of Finance, Katy built and led all financial strategic plans and played an instrumental role in all aspects of the business related to the corporation expansion, ranging from the Merger & Acquisition of 20 companies around the globe and also increased the number of 98 locations in US, up to 10000 people.
Katy is also a founder and CEO of her own CPA Firm, where she helped guild the middle market firm’s infrastructure, define the brand, and drive business growth. While there, she developed and executed business building strategies that helped the founders and business owners in crafting value-driven growth plans and assisting with building management teams and scalable infrastructure capable of supporting significant growth. Her partnership approach drives value with management teams while respecting the entrepreneurial vision of company founders.
Katy received a Master of Science in Accounting from University of St. Thomas, where she graduated with the highest distinction, with Honors Accounting Society. With her first MBA from Columbia Southern University, she is pursuing her Executive MBA - number 1 MBA program for entrepreneurship in USA from Rice University.
As a researcher for Doctor in Educational Leadership in University of St. Thomas, Katy has lots of valuable articles about gifted students, education, parenting… as a writer and a speaker in some national conferences in US.
Katy serves on the Board of Directors for the largest global Project Management Institute - PMI - as Vice President of Finance. She is also the Professional Development Director - Board of Director for Rice University - Graduate Student Association. She is also an APA - American Psychological Association - Ambassador, Exclusive Ambassador for Texas Young Professionals, member of Rice University - Table-tennis club, Forte Foundation, American Educational Research Association, World Council for Gifted & Talented Children, Golden Key International Honor Society…
Katy got lots of professional awards with her big achievements: Bronze Medal for “Female Manager of the Year” - Stevie Award - the World’s Premier Honor; Lollipop award from City of Baytown for completing FY21 Capital Improvement Annual Budget; Best ExcelCEO; Women’s Scholarship Award for CFA program; Fulbright scholarship…
Katy is also a singer, model, MC, ping-pong player with lots of professional awards in both Vietnam and US. She is a lead singer in Rice University choir, joining lots of charity and community activities.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Katy's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Being a leader is already challenging. Among top 3 challenges as a leader: -Communication (Keeping everyone on the same page, Staying honest, Celebrating the wins)
-Competency (Making hard decisions, Managing resources, Delegating, Seeking feedback)
-Internal (Staying positive, Wanting to be liked, Staying calm, Learning to trust)
I myself think the most challenging one is “Making hard decisions”. I faced it when I had to choose between 2 strong teams for a promotion. In those tough situations, I usually ask myself the right questions that can help me approach solutions. I also try to get all inputs from every source, not just from executive teams to avoid bias. Then, truly listen is really helpful, managers “listen to talk” while leaders “listen to understand”. Communication is the key to win in this case. Keep communicating. Listen before and explain after. And then understand that you can’t please everyone all of the time, be sensitive to those groups who won’t like your final decisions. Seeking for advisors, coaches and any knowledgeable executives who can help you think “out of the box”. Trust me, it helps.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
With more than 20 years of experience in global markets (Asia, Europe & America) from US Government, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Power, Investment Funds… (billion-dollar corporations), I was an Accounting Manager, Finance Director and then Regional Controller, CFO/Vice President of Finance. I am an executive leader with a proven track record of executing strategic vision and driving organizational performance across firm operations, business development and finance management.
I built and led all financial strategic plans and played an instrumental role in all aspects of the business related to the corporation expansion, ranging from the Merger & Acquisition of 20 companies around the globe and also increased the number of 98 locations in US, up to 10000 people.
I am also a founder and CEO of my own CPA Firm, where I helped guild the middle market firm’s infrastructure, define the brand, and drive business growth. While there, I developed and executed business building strategies that helped the founders and business owners in crafting value-driven growth plans and assisting with building management teams and scalable infrastructure capable of supporting significant growth. My partnership approach drives value with management teams while respecting the entrepreneurial vision of company founders.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I used to be a “Morning person” but not anymore. Lol. Now I’m the “Whole-day person” from the early morning to late night. However, I try to mix all other activities such as gym, ping-pong, swimming, yoga and singing during a hardworking day.
I get up around 7am in the morning, get dressed and go to the office, ready for a new day with full of energy. After 3-6 meetings, I spend time reviewing all reports from my subordinates, and then doing some high-level analysis, updating reports to my President/CEO, Board of Directors, Shareholders & Investors. I call it a day around 5pm, but keep an eye on emails & reply it right away (bad habit but unavoidable, I want everything fast & smoothly). It can help avoiding bunch of emails for tomorrow morning.
Then, it’s time for gym, table-tennis or yoga, swimming. I try to do it 3 times/week. “Mens sana in corpore sano” - a Latin phrase means “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. I always response to my body when receiving signal “Stop working”, I take a rest, doing the gym or sleep, and after that, I start working again with my maximum energy, health & eagerness.
After that, I come home, checking my son’s homework (not really, lol, he got all credits, I just pretend to check). Dinner time and then skincare time - the most favorite time when I spend time for myself with my collection of skincare, perfume, masks… And I watch some movies, gameshows, or listen to some music with my husband. We go to bed around 11pm.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Besides some basic leadership lessons like: Managers and Leaders are different, Leadership is hard or Self-awareness is essential, I truly believe that: “We learn something from everyone that passes through our lives. Some lessons are painless, some lessons are priceless”. It is called “Vicarious Learning”, including 4 steps from: Attentional, Retention, Motor reproduction to Motivational.
I myself recognize the importance of Vicarious Learning, so as an entrepreneur, I try to read a story about successful businessman’s experience every month. I also observe the way my supervisors interact with shareholders, investors, customers. I usually watch videos on relevant topics, especially new topics that I need to learn. I try to talk to my special customers about their experience.
I try to train my staff the same things and offer opportunities to shadow different roles, developing a knowledge management system, establishing communities of practice and creating a mentorship program.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
“The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is my favorite book. “The One Minute Manager” teaches us that it’s enough to let people know what you want from them, and give them immediate feedback. You don’t have to choose between achieving results and staying human: these are actually two sides of the same coin. And sometimes, being effective takes literally only one minute.
It reveals 3 secrets:
1. One-minute goals: One Minute Management is the philosophy of no surprises. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do from the very beginning. Each person in one organization had to write their goals down, together with their performance standards. For each goal and its standards, there shouldn’t be more than 250 words written. Typically, every person had 5-6 goals in his or her area of responsibility. Everyone was supposed to read and reread their goals every once in a while.
2. One-minute Praising: Usually managers try to catch people doing something wrong, The One Minute Manager took the opposite approach – he was catching people doing something right. And right after he saw a person doing something right, he would immediately tell him or her what exactly it was. This way, a person didn’t have to wait the whole year to hear appraisals. “Help people reach their full potential: catch them doing something right” – this was the motto of the company. The One Minute Manager didn’t observe his people all the time, of course – only in the beginning, when the person would struggle with a new project or responsibility. And he was consistent about appraisals: he would give them even if things were going wrong for him.
3. One-minute Reprimands: As soon as the One Minute Manager would learn about someone’s mistake, he would come to that person and let him or her know about it. He would express anger, frustration, or any other negative emotion – but that emotion was always directed at the action that person had done. It was not about blaming the person themselves.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
“Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same”. – Danny Wallace
Say “Yes” to opportunity is my advice to a young leader. I did it when I was young, all of the time, and never feel regretful. Saying YES means making the most of every opportunity & encounter. It means taking chances to stretch your comfort zone, to overcome your insecurities, to beat fear, to get through failure, criticism, rejection & embarrassment with a positive spirit.
Why should we say “yes”?
1. Saying yes opens you up to new challenges and opportunities.
2. Saying yes invites collaboration.
3. Saying yes empowers and affirms others
4. Saying yes creates an environment where it’s safe to try, fail, learn, and innovate.
5. Saying yes makes life more fun.
Saying “yes” is easy. But you need to think twice before saying “yes” to the next opportunity that requires a decision. Remember: “When you say YES to others make sure you are not saying NO to yourself” ~ Paulo Coelho.
Follow these 3 steps in understanding and aligning your dreams, goals and desires and start saying YES to opportunities that matter. Once this is clear, opportunities that are in sync will present themselves at your door step and all other opportunities will either fade or you will be able to pick out the ones that are not in your best interest allowing you to focus all your attention on what really matters.
1. Analyze Who you are today
2. Understand your Core Values
3. Create a picture that represents your vision
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
“Education is the key unlocking the world. It is the passport to freedom” - Oprah Winfrey.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, exhibited leadership by advocating for girls’ education in Pakistan. Despite facing threats and a near-fatal attack by the Taliban, Malala remained steadfast in her mission. Her courageous efforts to promote education and empower young girls worldwide inspired millions and highlighted the transformative power of education.
Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for the right of every child to receive an education. She was born in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. When the Islamic Taliban movement took control of the valley in 2008, girls’ schools were burned down. Malala kept a diary of the events, which was published in 2009 by BBC Urdu. In her diary she spoke out against the Taliban’s terrorist regime. An American documentary film made Malala internationally famous.
It was not long before the Taliban threatened her life. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head on a school bus by a Taliban gunman. She survived, but had to flee to England and live in exile there because a fatwa was issued against her.
In 2013, TIME magazine named Malala one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” On her 16th birthday she spoke in the United Nations. In her speech Malala called for the equal right to education for girls all over the world, and became a symbol of this cause.
As an entrepreneur & educator, I admire her & support those who empower students to fight for their educational rights.