Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: Highlighting Vivian Le, Tax Senior Manager

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month, we sat down with Vivian Le, Tax Senior Manager, to discuss her life, motivations, and heritage. Here is a transcript of the interview we conducted.

What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Month mean to you?

To celebrate Asian American Heritage Month, I was asked by my High School Student Council to compose a short article about myself to highlight my achievements as a graduating salutatorian for the Class of 2003.  20 years later, I have the honor once again to be celebrated by my employer. 

May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which celebrates and commemorates the achievements and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific American descent in the United States.  Not only do we take this time to honor these leaders who have enriched the heritage of our country, but we also want to embrace and showcase the Asian cultures and success through art, education, business, and our community.

Who has served as an inspiration in your life?

My late father fought in the Vietnam War. His sacrifices earned us tickets to America, “the land of endless opportunities”, as he’d always made sure to remind me. My mom was a professor in Vietnam before we immigrated to the United States.  Both of my parents left everything behind, and, due to the language barrier and limited connections, had to start all over. I came to the United States when I was eight years old. I struggled in my early years to find a sense of belonging and faced many challenges navigating through academics and into my career.

Being an only child, and first generation Asian American in my family, only heightened the pressure to succeed. My late father worked very hard to provide for us. My mother, did not let the language barrier prevent her from tutoring me (I aced those AP Cal classes because of her). Resilience, persistence, and determination, combined with the opportunities presented, I managed to graduate at the top of my class and earned my way through Southern Methodist University. Witnessing how happy and proud my parents were, I knew I had given them the biggest gift they had long anticipated. My parents will forever be my leaders. Without their guidance and motivation, I would not be the person I am today. 

What motivates you?/ What is your biggest inspiration?

I was faced with many life challenges. I became a mother at a very young age of 22, which was also at the start of my professional career. My father passed away of Lou Gehrig’s disease when I was 24 years old.  Nevertheless, through resilience, persistence, and determination; I overcame the challenges and continued to achieve the goals I set out for myself. I want to be role models for my children as my parents were to me. 

How do you feel your Heritage has contributed to who you are today?

Everyone is born to be a leader regardless of your backgrounds and ethnicities. There are opportunities presented every day for us to shine and showcase our leadership skills, whether big or small. I always try to share my stories with my staff, in hopes that they can be inspired and motivated to persevere through the challenges presented in public accounting. If I can do it, anyone can do it.  

Thank you, Whitley Penn, for embracing AAPI Heritage Month and recognizing the importance of cultural diversity in leadership. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to reflect on the past 20 and how my upbringing and Asian Heritage has impacted my life.