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My Roots: Thear Suzuki

EY's Americas Advisory talent leader was born two years before the Cambodian genocide and came to Dallas as a war refugee.

“I was born in 1973, two years before the Cambodian genocide. By 1975, the Khmer Rouge had won the civil war and taken over the country. Families like mine were forced to leave Phnom Penh in April of 1975. Nothing was the same after that. My family had to survive by hiding in disintegrating huts in jungles and performing manual labor in labor camps. I can still vividly remember trembling in a ditch, petrified by the sound of guns firing off in every direction.

I arrived in Dallas in 1981.  Fannin Elementary took me in as a war refugee. My first impression was that I was a stranger. And then a saint of a teacher named John Gallagher came to the rescue. With a Cambodian-English dictionary in hand, he helped my family learn to read and write. I went on to become student body president of my high school and was awarded a leadership scholarship to SMU. After graduating, I set my eyes on medical school, but decided to work first to save money and applied to the first job that caught my eye. That was the start of my consulting career.

I have served as EY’s America’s advisory talent leader since 2018. My mission is to inspire courageous actions in others so they can lead more impactful lives. I have blunt conversations with aggressors who pollute the workplace atmosphere and strive to increase diversity and gender equality. I also try to help pave the way for women in leadership through the Orchid Giving Circle, the Dallas initiative of the 2020 Women on Boards, and the Texas Women’s Foundation Economic Leadership Council. Most important, as the mother of four sons, I have been sculpting their views on respecting women from the moment they were born.”   

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