Tam Tran, Port of Long Beach

When Tam Tran came to the U.S. from Vietnam at age 19, the country was in the middle of the Dotcom Bust. His mother was an accountant by profession, but Tran had never imagined himself following in her footsteps. “No one says: when I grow up, I want to be an accountant,” he said. But after coming to a new country and seeing droves of workers lose their jobs as a result of the crash, Tran felt compelled to give it a shot. “When you’ve just come to a new country, you’re looking at which job is secure,” he remembered thinking. Accounting is a pretty stable gig, he concluded. “No matter whether the economy is up or down, they’ll always need accountants.” Fast forward to today, Tran has been with the Long Beach Harbor Department’s finance division for almost 18 years. An accounting manager with the port, Tran enjoys not only the security his position offers, but the balance it awards him between his personal and professional life. “What I enjoy most about the job is the work-life balance,” Tran noted. Over time, he said he’s come to realize the importance of his position, especially when talking to friends outside of the field, who often find it challenging to grasp the nitty-gritty of financial statements, reports and products. “That’s when I realized [that] what I learned, my field of expertise, does have a value,” Tran said. “I can make a difference. I can help people.”