Niza Oun-Nguyen, 30’s
Current Roles: Partner of a Wealth Management Firm, Founder of Camb from Nothing, Founder of Youniversal Energy, and Partner of Artizara
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
My parents settled in Utah as Cambodian refugees in the late 1970s. I was born and raised in a small town in Utah called Logan. Starting over from scratch, my mother worked as a janitor and my father was a blue-collar worker until they could finally own their own business decades later. I grew up in a community that was 99% Caucasian and Mormon. My family were Cambodian and Buddhist, so early on in my childhood, I felt disconnected from the rest of the community. My parents did not have much money, so I could not participate in recreational activities like the other children, so I focused all of my attention in school. I knew education was my only ticket to living a more prosperous life.
When I was 15, my family decided to move to California. It was huge cultural shift for me because my new high school was very diverse with Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. I finally felt more comfortable in my skin and started to be more vocal and active in the sports and activities. I was the first Asian Homecoming Queen, Varsity Cheerleader, Senior-Class President, California State President of DECA, and active in Mock Trial and the Asian Club. I was also proud to graduate with over a 4.0 GPA.
I attended UCSD where I earned my Bachelor's in International Studies - Economics and a Minor in Communications. Graduating from UCSD was a big moment for my family as I am the first college graduate in my family.
I started my finance career with the world's largest bond manager, PIMCO, in Newport Beach, CA. I also worked at other financial institutions, managing wealth for high-net worth families, business owners, executives, entertainers, and institutions. I'm now a Partner with a Wealth Management firm in Los Angeles. I share my professional background because I work in a male-dominated industry. I'm proud to be a minority women (and mom of 3 kids) working alongside men in this industry.
Throughout my various roles in the financial industry, I received two Master's degrees - an MBA in Finance and a Master's in Entrepreneurship. I went to also earn two professional designations - Certified Private Wealth Manager and Certified Exit Planning Advisor. I have desire to always learn and grow and provide value to others.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian and Cambodian?
The biggest challenge right now is dealing with the rising wave of anti-Asian hate crimes. We need more media attention and awareness.
At the same time, our Asian communities are coming together to support each other. The anti-Asian hate crimes are forcing us to speak up more, build communities, and empower each other.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Being the 1st generation college graduate in my family. Also, working in a male dominated industry as a minority woman/mom.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
I grew in a humble home. I appreciated the simplicity in the little things that I had. I think in the modern day, we get caught up with the material needs that don't necessarily bring us joy and happiness. Happiness comes from within and the people that you surround yourself with.
I also appreciated the struggles - I channeled my energy into academics as that was the one thing I could control. I'm glad to have stayed focused as education has provided me with many opportunities in the professional world.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I understand and speak conversational Khmer.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Never ever give up. Your past doesn't define your future. Each challenge you face in life is an opportunity to learn and grow.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My husband and three daughters.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
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