Finding Your Path

June 23, 2016


Gloria Chen, vice president and chief of staff to the CEO, recently delivered the 2016 University of Washington (UW) Electrical Engineering (EE) Graduation Keynote Address at her alma matter.

UW is a school that’s close to Gloria’s heart. Not only did she graduate from UW with a degree in EE in ’87, her father was a PhD student in the department when she was born. Gloria went on to complete her masters in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon in ’90, and earned her MBA from Harvard University in ’94. Gloria has been with Adobe for 18 years in a variety of leadership roles, including worldwide sales operations and corporate strategy. In her current role as chief of staff for Adobe’s President and CEO, she works with the Executive Staff and senior leaders to advance our strategic agenda.

Gloria spoke briefly about her deep ties to UW before launching into her address with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Watch the video below or read the full speech.

While the speech included a number of personal anecdotes, the main messages centered on four key “lessons.”

1) It’s okay to quit. Try as we might, sometimes things just aren’t meant to work out. The important part, however, is listening to your inner voice to know when to keep pushing forward and when it’s time to move on.

2) Keep an open mind. The answers to our biggest questions sometimes come from the most unexpected places. These opportunities can be missed if we’re not open to trying new things.

3) Make a difference wherever you go. Even our smallest acts of kindness can have a huge impact on the people surrounding us.

4) Keep it all in perspective. Life is not measured by our accomplishments, but by the strength of our relationships, which she learned after her son Matthew was born three and a half months prematurely.