Alumni Profile #1 Fall, 2013:                                                 Joseph Adams,  TDHS Class of 1967


Joseph Adams

Where are you and what are you doing?
I live in Singapore and am  VP of Human Resources in Asia for the Jabil Corporation, which has 120,000 employees in Asia.  My job is to ensure that our employees in Asia have a dignified experience; one that allows them to grow, develop and realize their full potential.

What interested you in high school?
Sports and music.  Frankly, I did not do well academically. I did just enough to get by and not much more.  I was not bored, just indifferent to what we were being asked to do.     My love of learning came later, in college.

How did that affect your career?
My 28-year- career in technology was a complete accident.    I  studied at a great school – The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and had great teachers who had a profound influence in my life:  I found myself academically, finally excelled at school, and discovered an aptitude for critical thinking and an intellectually curious bent.   I became a teacher, then vice principal at a large private school in Mountain View, Calif.    

Silicon Valley was just starting to boom and I was offered a position with a disc drive manufacturer, which brought me to where I am today.   I never thought in my wildest dreams at The Dalles High School that I would be running a $2 billion business for a large multi-national corporation.   I have lived and worked all over Asia for  23 years, and now work mostly in China, Vietnam and Malaysia.    The rich cultural diversity, friendships, intellectually challenging work and the opportunity to see people develop, grow and learn has had a profound impact on my life.

What are the most difficult aspects of  your job?
International travel can be punishing.   I fly 200,000 miles every year and have to stay fit and keep my mind sharp.  The cultural challenges are enormous in business.  To be successful here, with so many cultures in the conference room, you have to recognize, respect and appreciate their points of view. 

What do you do when not working?
I’m a prolific reader, and living close to the equator, I love to dabble in astronomy.    My wife and I try to stay fit – so we regularly run or take long fast walks.

We built a home in Bali, and in January we moved in.  It is close to the Indian Ocean, The food is awesome and cheap in Bali (awesome and expensive in Singapore).  We have many Hindu and Muslim friends, and as Americans, feel very comfortable here. 

When you look forward  10 years, what do you think you will be doing?
Hopefully, I will be on the beach full time in Bali,  still traveling, learning, growing, and developing as a person.  I will be 73 years old in 10 years.

If you could give ‘life advice’ to the students at TDWHS, what would it be?
Hmmm, great question.   I think intellectual curiosity is one of the most important qualities you can have and it needs to be developed like a muscle.  Be open, be willing to learn and not have the answers before the questions are even asked.

Living outside the US gives you a totally different perspective on international policies, politics and life.   I would hope that the students realize that we are citizens of ‘plant earth’ not just of the US or China or somewhere else.


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