Advancing Leaders by Celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month-Supei Liu, Co-Founder & VP of Innovation

May 31, 2024

In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are doing a series of interviews with our Senior Leaders. Hear how their cultural experiences have informed their leadership and how they are innovating across our global programs.

Supei Liu, Co-Founder and VP of Innovation

Supei Liu

Supei is one of the founding members of Nomi Network, starting the first program in 2009 after relocating to Cambodia. She has been instrumental in the growth and development of Nomi Network’s global programs and field operations. Before coming to Nomi Network, Supei acquired decades of experience in the fashion industry, serving as a Production Coordinator and Senior Merchandise Planner, and successfully launching Active and Yoga wear for international retailers. She now employs those skills to fight for justice and create a more equitable world.

How has your heritage shaped you as a leader?

I come from a line of strong, determined women unafraid of adventure and exploration. I first realized their influence when my grandmother and mother moved to Cambodia in 2015. They joined me as I started the very first Nomi Network program.  I came from the private sector and jumped into starting this social venture with all its uncertainties and risk of failure. My grandmother was already 95 then and willing to support me in this new venture. I remember her biggest smile when she took her first tuk-tuk (taxi) ride! I knew I had the same strength and courage if they could be brave and explore. My ability to start a new operation in a new country was a gift from my heritage. 

Who are the AANHPI leaders who’ve inspired you?

There weren’t many role models with my background who were well-known when I was growing up. For a long time, I have been a fan of Michelle Yeoh, the actress who won the Academy Award for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” I grew up watching her acting from Asia and was impressed when she broke into the Hollywood scene. She did her stuntwork, even in demanding martial arts movies. I practiced martial arts and know how difficult it is. I always respect those who do the work, like Michelle Yeoh. In a youth-driven industry, she continues breaking barriers and making movies as a strong woman.   

How are you innovating in your leadership?

Leadership innovation is like exercise. The more you engage in it, the better and stronger you become. Often, people consider leadership only for a certain few. I disagree. It can become natural for those who practice innovation in their leadership regularly. 

One way I ‘work out’ my leadership is to ask hard questions to challenge what I’m doing regularly. For example, “Is there a more efficient and effective way of doing this?” helps me work out where I may be wasting energy or missing resources. Or, “Is there any other perspective I can take on this?” helps me see others’ perspectives.

I approach every challenge as an opportunity to find solutions. I reframe it so that walking away isn’t an option. Instead, I look at challenges from a place of gratitude for how I can learn and grow. 

How are you helping others to innovate or advance in their leadership?

I learned the power of coaching later in life and have applied that to working with others. I make myself available to those who want to grow. I make time for regular check-ins, not just for business but for real mentoring and coaching. In my work in Cambodia, in the beginning, and still today, I am intentional about not just being a supervisor for my staff or a manager of their time. Instead, I set out to do more than that. If you only manage people, your relationship will last as long as you work together. When you are a mentor, the relationship is for a lifetime. 

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