Christie Dao



Golden Gate University - Bachelor of Science in International Management

Golden Gate University - Master of Business Administration in Operations Management

Christie Dao saw a need for Asian impats with Western education and experience to bridge the gap in the developing East. So, in 1986, just a year after she moved to the United States with her family, she told them she would someday return to Asia to work.

And in 2000, she did.

After holding various jobs at Intel — from supply chain to procurement to IT and then to marketing — the time came for Christie to ask her manager to make the move from California to overseas. And once in Singapore, Christie helped start up IT M&A operations in the greater Asia region and ran various teams of all sizes.

Today, Christie will tell you she has her dream job in marketing. Currently she manages Intel Flex+, a channel loyalty program covering 6,000 members across 14 countries. Christie shows that hard work — and experience across several divisions within a company — can help you find your dream job.

Take your passion, add determination to it and success is within reach.

How did you discover your current job?

I always wanted to be in marketing, but I knew it would be a challenge to compete with the native speakers in my less-than-perfect American accent. So, taking a detour is what I needed to do. The scenic route also helped me become a stronger marketer: from supply chain to procurement to IT (pretty important for a technology company) and finally, to marketing.

Building a positive reputation from the start -- which, for me, was 1996 -- was important, so I relied on my strong planning and operations background and chose planning. Two years later, after having proven myself, my manager moved me on to support system implementation to improve data integrity between our distributors and Intel. Here, I closed two internal audit items with Andy Grove stamping his seal of approval.

Then, in 1999, after I received my MBA, I transferred to IT to learn more about technology while picking up a different global perspective. I reckoned doing what was best for one geography may not be the best for mother Intel. IT Strategic Procurement gave me the privilege to negotiate corporate contracts (my biggest contract signed was worth $20 million!). After several years of experience in the U.S., I asked my manager for an overseas assignment.

Intel relocated me from California to Singapore in 2000. Here, I helped start up IT M&A operations in the greater Asia region; a great skill set for my portfolio. In 2002, I assumed a people manager role leading a small team and saw it grow from three to 25 employees over two years. In 2004, I was given the opportunity to merge my team with my peer in India as two-in-a box manager. Co-leading a team of 60 employees was a great experience; from grooming new managers to influencing customers to offshore low-level work so staff can move up on the value chain.

Finally, in 2009, I did a maternity coverage in marketing for three months, which turned into a full-time role and actualized my dream job in marketing!

What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?

I manage Intel Flex+, a channel loyalty program that covers 6,000 members across 14 countries in the Greater Asia Region. My typical day includes issue resolution, selling my marketing program to internal stakeholders and brainstorming new ideas to continue scaling the program to new heights.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

Running an effective marketing program that moves the needle is the most rewarding part of my job. I have seen some amazing results.

One of the most challenging parts of my job is influencing people virtually. Without a working relationship, things don’t get done in many cultures. Because we don’t have adequate face time, we rely heavy on virtual communication. Presenting in virtual meetings and communicating over email can express only 50 percent of our intent, as body language and tone of voice makes up for the other half in face-to-face communication. Picking up the phone to talk to a member on the team one-on-one right after the meeting is essential if someone seems either resistant or hesitant. But when it's done adequately, we're able to channel energy and time to proactively strategize and execute desirable plans.

What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?

Travel. While it’s a privilege to have traveled to 19 countries, I've noticed it takes my body longer to adapt to a new environment. A while back, I read an magazine article that said four hours on the airplane is like taking an X-ray, and we usually only take an X-ray once a year.

What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?

Plan for the unknown. In other words, plan ahead for what you know. By the time you get there, you still have time to deal with the things that crop up along the way. Aim high to reach high.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?

To be given equal opportunities. I’ve been in meetings where male counterparts wouldn’t make eye contact or acknowledge the female counterparts (and it wasn’t due to their religion, but rather something else). I wonder why people have to be harsh to other people, especially women. It’s women who gave birth to us all. They must have seen the “female species” before.

Who are your role models?

My grandpa. You can say he's the male figure in my life. My dad, a pilot, was missing in action during the war, so we moved back to my mom’s family after the fall of Saigon. With only an elementary school education, my grandpa was forward-looking and an engineer in his own right. He built houses, ships and water tanks while farming to provide for 15 aunts and uncles, plus my brother and me. And he managed to put us all through school. Up to this day, 11 years after he's passed on, I still have dreams of him advising me from afar on how to do something.

What are some of the rules you live by?

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."

What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?

Take your passion, add determination to it and success is within reach.

Since I moved overseas, having a strong support network on the ground also is important. It’s easy to take it for granted in your home country. I owe it to Nani (a woman who helped me relocate to Singapore who later became a very good friend) for making my transition to Singapore so transparent.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Still in Asia doing what I love and still carving out time to have fun.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Be sure to get to your destination alive and well and not half-dead. While it’s important to have goals in life, do take time out to “sharpen the saw.” It’s important to enjoy the journey as a whole.