Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Fiona Ma, Executive Search Firm VP Honored at Asian Women Leaders Gala

SAN FRANCISCO - Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Kyung Yoon, vice chairwoman of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, were honored at the Society of Asian Women Leaders’ second annual awards banquet and charity auction on October 11 at the Hilton Hotel.

Every year the Bay Area-based organization honors a woman who has made an impact in the community as well as a woman who has influenced the business professional world.

Yoon, who came to the United States from Korea when she was eight years old, joined Heidrick & Struggles in 1994 and has been one of the key drivers in the firm’s Asia Pacific expansion, with management responsibility for the Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Seoul offices.

Yoon recalled the difficulties of being an Asian American woman in the workforce after graduating from business school. “There weren’t that many role models,” said Yoon, wearing an elegant, floor-length, silk embroidered Korean hanbok. “There were not that many women in the work force. And there were definitely not that many Asian women, so I found myself kind of doing things I thought were appropriate and kind of figuring my own way.”

Before her political career, Ma had worked for Ernst & Young but said she left when she saw the glass ceiling. “There were no women partners or senior managers,” she said to the audience at the gala.

Ma started her own business and became president of Asian Business Association, which helped minority and female business owners. “To be here to talk about how business and my career impacted where I am today comes full circle for me,” Ma said.

The event was emceed by the enthusiastic Thuy Vu, CBS 5’s Emmy-winning television reporter.

Proceeds from the event benefited C.E.O. Women, an organization devoted to assisting low-income refugee and immigrant women starting their own businesses.

SAWL and C.E.O. Women have partnered together this year to create a venture fund award program to support those of Asian descent in the Bay Area. The $2,000 award provides capital for a woman to launch her business.