Spotlight on NAAAP Leadership: Fabian J. DeRozario, NAAAP National President & CEO
Fabian J. De Rozario, NAAAP National President & CEO
Fabian De Rozario is a consultant and expert facilitator of talent development programs, delivering more
than 100 workshops and seminars each year at Fortune 100 companies in the U.S. and abroad. Fabian has a private consulting practice, GlobalConnect LP, and is also a faculty member at Korn/Ferry International. Fabian is the current National President/CEO of NAAAP. Fabian and his wife, Jesslyna reside
in Atlanta, Georgia.
ALIST Magazine: How do you see your role in changing the world?
Fabian: There are three things that I do: my personal consulting/training business, my employment (currently with Korn/Ferry International), and my volunteer/community service efforts. In all these three aspects, the common theme and purpose is to improve lives. During the course of the year, I conduct about 110+ seminars, workshops, webinars and speeches in the U.S. and abroad. The programs that I conduct are about developing and enhancing personal skills, primarily in the topics of leadership, cross cultural agility, and organizational savvy. Examples of people I reach include scientists at Fortune 50 companies, managers at retail giants and a global IT company, and volunteers at not-for-profit organizations including NAAAP – the National Association of Asian American Professionals. It is my hope that through my daily personal interactions and at programs that I conduct across the globe, I can impact the world in a positive manner.
ALIST Magazine: What is your passion?
Fabian: My passion is developing capabilities in myself and others. This started thirty years ago when I attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I had a student work job, and then a graduate assistantship at the university’s campus recreation/sports center. This work experience imbedded in me the drive for constant self-improvement and a strong sense of “paying it forward.” The director of the recreation center at that time took strong interest in developing his student staff. He held regular coaching sessions for students, gave us books to read, and encouraged us to participate in professional activities such as presenting workshops at conferences. This is what developed the passion I currently have in self-improvement and training.
ALIST Magazine: What are some things that you can’t leave the house without?
Fabian: My Galaxy S3 phone (2 more months to go and I can upgrade my phone – I’m thinking about the S5). My phone is my link to everything – my email, my entire list of contacts, the camera to capture important memories or something I need to remember, access to Facebook, and more. There’s also the basics like my house & car keys, wallet and business cards – you must always be prepared to make connections with others.
ALIST Magazine: How has diversity changed in the last ten years?
Fabian: In the last 10 years, diversity is better understood as the value of variety to drive better performance, instead of the affirmative action framework that is limited to race, age and gender. Diversity in the past 10 years is a relevant topic beyond the borders of the United States and is quickly becoming a leadership imperative in the workplace and in society across the globe. Today, the best organizations leverage concepts of diversity and inclusion to build organizational cultures of openness, innovation, high respect for every individual, and development opportunities for all.
ALIST: Name 3 people you admire and why.
Fabian: Dr. Charles W. Donaldson recently retired as the Vice President of Educational & Student Services at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock after 40 years of service at that university. He hired me in 1992 to be the first director of the university’s Donaghey Student Center – an incredible opportunity for me to grow and lead. His dedication to student success and utmost professionalism has been a source of inspiration for me. Recently, a new building on campus was dedicated in his name, and it was an honor for me to attend that special event.
Ever since Indra Nooyi was named CEO of PepsiCo in 2006, I have admired her for being a trail blazer. I am inspired that as an Asian woman, she is the CEO of the second largest food and beverage business in the world. In past years, I’ve had the opportunity to deliver seminars at various locations of PepsiCo – and it’s clear to me that she is well respected and loved by employees of PepsiCo.
David Lee came to the U.S. as a Vietnamese refugee many years ago, and today he has a successful chain of restaurants in the Atlanta metro area. Besides being a successful entrepreneur, he is a down-to-earth person and he believes in the importance of service to the community – and I value that in a person. We’ve been friends ever since 2010 when we partnered to organize a fund-raiser in Atlanta to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
ALIST: Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
Fabian: J. Michael Dunn, the former Director of Recreational Sports at The Ohio State University. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2010 after falling ill. He is loved and missed by many people, and is best remembered as a national leader of intramural-recreational sports and a passionate proponent of student development. He mentored me from my early days as an international student working at the Student Recreation Center at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale all through my professional career. In 1992, when I became a director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, he travelled to visit me in Little Rock to support and encourage me in this new leadership role. He taught me the value of always seeking ways to improve personal skills, the value of building relationships, and striving to always make a positive impact in the lives of others.
ALIST: What traditions have been passed down in your family?
Fabian: I grew up in a town nearby Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and one of the best childhood memories I have is my family’s “open house” during Christmas Eve and Day. I just loved friends and family visiting our home to eat, drink, chat and play games. Now, my wife, Jesslyna and I love hosting our “open house” on Christmas Day when we’re not travelling during the holiday season. We decorate our home inside and out (I have 30 storage bins of lights). Throughout Christmas Day, we welcome friends and family to our home for… yes again… eating, drinking, chatting and playing games… and we added karaoke to our activities.
ALIST: What are you reading lately?
Fabian: Serial Innovators by Griffin, Price and Vojak. It’s a book recently given to me by one of my clients in Asia as a reference to build a training program. Serial Innovators features stories and strategies of cutting-edge thinkers who repeatedly create and deliver breakthrough innovations and new products that have a widespread impact in the market.