Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce Celebrates the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Share Article

22nd Annual Awards Gala to be held Thursday, June 7, 2012, at the Kim Son Ballroom in Houston.

Houston’s entrepreneur scope is thriving, so it is no wonder the Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce has selected as its 22nd Annual Awards Gala theme, “The Spirit of Entrepreneurship.” This year’s Asian Chamber signature small business recognition and fundraising event will take place on Thursday, June 7, 2012, at the Kim Son Ballroom, 10603 Bellaire, Houston, TX 77072. The Kim Son restaurants are owned by the Tri La family who are also past honorees of the annual Asian Chamber business awards. The festivities will begin with a reception and executive silent auction at 6 p.m., followed by an awards program at 7 p.m.

Professor Lynda Chin, MD will keynote the event. Dr. Chin is The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Genomic Medicine Chair and Scientific Director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science. Dr. Chin is no stranger to the spirit of entrepreneurship. In addition to being a renowned researcher and physician, she is a biotech entrepreneur who co-founded AVEO Pharmaceuticals and founded Metamark Genetic.

Dr. Chin will be introduced by her husband, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald A. DePinho, MD.

“The Annual Awards Gala is our largest event of the year and has recognized Asian entrepreneurs for 22 years,” said Asian Chamber of Commerce President Linda Toyota. “Several of the entrepreneurs have been honored more than once benchmarking their increased success in the marketplace. We invite the entire Houston community to take part in this special occasion. The celebratory atmosphere, networking and infectious entrepreneurial energy will be stellar.”

Success through giving back to the community is a hallmark of the gala’s four co-chairs: Donna Cole, CEO, Cole Chemical; Glen Gondo, President, Gondo Company; Stephen Le Jr., CEO, Greatland Investments; and Randy Sim, President, Satsun Corporation. Each of the co-chairs is a prior gala honoree.

Five distinguished business professionals will be recognized during the special evening. This year’s Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce 22nd Annual Awards Gala honorees are:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner. Vivek “Roger” Israni is founder of Test Masters Educational Services. The company was founded when Israni still worked at Texas Instruments. After six years of working two jobs, he left to focus on the business in 1997. Built using savings, credit cards and with hard work, and teaching a majority of the classes, Test Masters is now one of the largest and fastest-growing educational companies in the world serving more than 100,000 students globally in the area of standardized testing preparation. Test Masters has grown geographically, holding classes throughout the United States and internationally. Fifty percent of the company’s popular engineering courses take place outside of Texas. Israni attended M.I.T. earning three degrees in four years, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Management and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering. He is a gifted teacher with an ability to convey complicated information in a simple, entertaining manner.
  • Executive Leadership Award. Shahid Javed is Chief Procurement Officer of BP. Javed is responsible for managing more than $2 billion in 3rd party spending, pursuing rigorous category management including creation of robust sector strategies, leading negotiations with strategic suppliers, and proactively addressing business demand and market conditions to deliver significant bottom line savings. Javed is also a member of the Global PSCM Leadership Team. Throughout his corporate career, he has been responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures to build a world-class procurement model for BP. Javed is a strong believer in mentoring and developing young Asian professionals at BP and in the Asian community. He is dedicated to developing talent and has mentored emerging leaders and middle managers at BP and in the community.                                                                            
  • Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award. Albina Rippy is founder of YogaOne Studios. A native of Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan (a former USSR republic) in Central Asia, Rippy was one of two children raised by a single mother. At a young age, Rippy was introduced to entrepreneurialism by her mother who founded a pharmaceutical company called ROMAT, which is now one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Kazakhstan today. Growing up as a latch-key child, Rippy managed to graduate valedictorian from her high school. At the age of 16, she came to the U.S. to attend college in the 1990s, which was practically unheard of in a country that was separated from the rest of the world by the Iron Curtain for many decades. Alone in the U.S., and barely able to speak English, she enrolled in an ESL program at the University of St. Thomas, won a full scholarship to the University of Houston and majored in finance and accounting. After holding several corporate CPA positions, she left the corporate world to follow her passion and open YogaOne Studios in Midtown in 2008. Last year, she opened her second studio in the Uptown/Galleria area. Rippy continues to transform bodies, lives and the community.
  • Outstanding Professional Award. Keiji Asakura is owner of Asakura Robinson Company LLC. Asakura is an award-winning landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm noted for design sensitivity, highly effective public engagement and tireless champions of more beautiful, healthful urban environments that foster social interaction, economic development and are great places to live, work and play. For 30 years, Asakura has been led by his passion to both influence and physically create the development of safe, walkable, beautiful neighborhoods, which will serve the communities within to promote mental, physical and cultural health and well-being.
  • Outstanding Business Award. Phoung B. Tran is CEO of Pho Saigon Vietnamese Noodle House. After spending a year in a refugee camp, Tran came to the United States in 1984 with his wife and young daughter. In a new land with no money, no family and no support, they worked as janitors, dishwashers and house painters to support their family. After working for a Vietnamese Pho restaurant chain with locations throughout the U.S. and Southeast Asia, Tran pursued his dream by opening Pho Saigon Vietnamese Noodle House in 1998, which premiered in Midtown Houston. Now in its 12th year of operation, Tran’s Pho Saigon franchise concept has grown to nine locations. Tran believes that his rapid business growth is due to his old fashioned way of doing business that is smart and honest, and is dedicated to his customers and employees.

The honorees were selected as a result of their ability to demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity, business growth and innovation, and community service.

A unique feature of this year’s gala is the executive silent auction. The auction offers high-bidders the opportunity to enhance their leadership and business skills by winning time with an executive. Executives being “auctioned” include: Erin Asprec, Memorial Hermann SE Hospital; John Beddow, Houston Business Journal; Anthony Chase, ChaseSource; Albert Chao, Westlake Chemical; Donna Cole, Cole Chemical; Glen Gondo, Gondo & Company; Randy Sim, Satsun Corporation; Ronald DePinho, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Jason Few, Reliant an NRG Company; Henry Florsheim, KTRK-TV/ABC13; The Hon. Adrian Garcia, Harris County Sheriff’s Department; George Greanias, Metropolitan Transit Authority; Doug Guthrie, Comcast Houston Region; Gina Luna, JPMorgan Chase; Scott McClelland, H-E-B; The Hon. Annise Parker, City of Houston; Jamey Rootes, Houston Texans; Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, Rice University; Ed Wulfe, Wulfe & Co.; and Dr. George Yang, Asia Chemical Corporation.

The Asian Chamber of Commerce invites the community to join in the festivities, make connections and to celebrate entrepreneurialism by attending its 22nd Annual Gala. Registration is available online at http://www.asianchamber-hou.org or by phone at 713.782.7222.

Asian Chamber of Commerce
Incorporated on June 20, 1990, the Asian Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit business membership organization. The Chamber has the dual purpose of promoting trade between Houston and Asia and to foster economic development in the Houston area’s Asian-American communities. The Chamber accomplishes its mission by providing networking opportunities through meetings, seminars and luncheons; presenting speakers on business topics related to Asia and the Asian-American community; and developing business leads for members through member-only notices. For additional details, visit http://www.asianchamber-hou.org.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Margo E. Williams, MWH Public Relations

Email >
Follow us on
Visit website