BWF Client Spotlight

jenAward

September 2013

Jennifer Hwu, CEO of Innosys, knows her business well and acts as a role model both for aspiring young people and for her employees. But that doesn’t mean her success always comes easily.

Hwu discovered a love for physics while still in high school. She got her bachelor’s degree in physics in Taiwan, taught high school physics for two years, then received her Master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from UCLA. She taught in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Utah for several years before leaving to start her own business. Currently, at InnoSys, her business provides power modules and power system to the military as well as to the consumer electronics market. She’s received multiple awards for her work, including the Woman Business Owner of the Year from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Yet, even with all that expertise, she still encounters people who underestimate her. She says, “Making myself heard correctly as a woman in my field of work where a woman is almost rare…is one very big challenge.”

While she does deal with discrimination, it’s much more common that people don’t know how to respond to her since her knowledge is so specific and her field is so unfamiliar to the people she encounters. “I try to be concerned with not making people feel more intimidated and lost because that could turn them further away from physics or electrical engineering.”

Believing that people like her (a woman physicist and engineer) should try even harder to make themselves understood, Hwu uses her knowledge and opportunities to act as a role model. “When it comes to the role of a high tech business owner, I am performing both of my previous roles,” Hwu says. “that is, being the role model and encouraging imagination and creativity of the employees of the company. In addition, I do these roles by establishing and providing [the employees] with the environment, the goal, and the rewards.”

For Hwu and her employees, the rewards are tangible. She loves that her work in engineering can solve real-life problems. Though her company is already environmentally conscious, she hopes to reduce energy consumption in the future. In recent years, the company has invested in a new product line that offers high-efficiency, high-performance LED and general lighting power supplies. Soon, Hwu hopes to consolidate her two product lines so the company can become a total solution provider, using cutting-edge technology with improved energy usage and applications.

For Hwu especially, the rewards are also personal. While establishing her business, her children were young, and she had to travel much of the time in order to ensure the business’s growth. There were times when the extreme stress caused Hwu to question whether or not she would make it. A few years later, her daughter let her know she had done just fine.

“My daughter and I were chatting with the President of the University of Utah, David Pershing,” Hwu recalls, “and when he asked my daughter, Kelly, what she planned to do in the future, she told President Pershing she knew her mom was an all-right business woman since her mom taught herself how to become a business person. Kelly wanted to become a very good woman business owner, watching how much her mom could do."


Innosys 2015