Sterling Mah Ingui ’97, Has Taken an Adventure-Filled Path Back to Durham
2020–2021 DA Alumni Board President Has Taken an Adventure-Filled Path Back to Durham
I graduated from Durham Academy in 1997, filling the next 23 years of my life with adventures that have a common theme — learning and having an open and agile mindset to take on new challenges. I attended Columbia University, where I played Division I field hockey, majored in political science and spent a semester in Beijing, all of which truly challenged me as I worked hard to find a balance between academics, sports and fun.
What I learned from Durham Academy is the joy and satisfaction one can have as a lifelong learner. I was taught how to study and to find the fun in learning as a student, athlete, class leader in student council, member in clubs and part of a community that fostered engagement and learning. That path has taken me from pursuing passions in gemology, scuba diving and culinary arts, to a career that has included marketing and product development, entrepreneurship and cybersecurity. My job as this year’s DA Alumni Board president is to connect DA alumni — in all of their varied fields — with each other and with their alma mater.
The pandemic has made fostering those connections more challenging than ever, but the Alumni Board is working hard to create a sense of community among fellow Cavaliers.
As DA’s Alumni Board president, I’ll be working with the board to help implement these strategic goals for 2020–2021:
Engage alumni with current students and alumni with each other through business networking events, alumni career interest meetings with current students and alumni guest speakers for Upper School classes.
Raise $265,000 from at least 510 alumni donors over the course of the year.
Grow our Black alumni program and other student/faculty affinity groups through a speaker series, mentor program and Black alumni reunion events.
Expand virtual alumni offerings/opportunities to increase participation and engagement through book clubs, game nights, coffees, happy hours, class get-togethers and faculty Zooms.
My path to a career in cybersecurity wasn’t direct, but every experience I had along the way was worth it. And ultimately, that path led me back to Durham and DA. Summers in college included field hockey training, becoming a certified PADI SCUBA Divemaster, learning Chinese and working at a think tank in Washington, D.C., which is where I learned I did not want to pursue a career in international relations. Instead, I graduated and pursued a passion in gemology at Tiffany & Co. in New York. I left Tiffany with a respect for the power of a brand, the value of superior customer experiences, a Graduate Colored Stones and Diamond Grading certification from the Gemological Institute of America, and a confirmation that I liked business and marketing over gemology and retail. I also left with a new love — my husband Paul, whom I met at Tiffany & Co.
At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, my focus was entrepreneurship and marketing strategy, but the MBA program opened the door to my career in technology and financial services. I enjoyed student life at Duke with study abroad programs and clubs. I’m a proud founding member of the culinary club. After Fuqua, I worked at American Express in New York, creating marketing programs in emerging sectors to source new lines of revenue. I also squeezed in a six-month evening class at the French Culinary Institute for fun.
Shortly after settling back in New York, my husband got a job in Chapel Hill, so we returned to Durham. Together we started the adventure of parenthood. Between learning to be a mother of two (sixth-grader Parker and third-grader Sabrina), I took on a new challenge of working in higher education, starting the Career Management Program for Fuqua’s one-year master’s program. I also had fun coaching a season of DA JV lacrosse. However, I missed working in business and accepted a role at IBM. There, I had the opportunity to transform flash storage made by a small Texas storage company into a global product ranked No. 1 by Gartner.
The experience of growing a product and entering new markets excited me. I left IBM to join Fidelity Investments’ internal incubator for startups, Fidelity Labs. For the next five years, I led teams as a product manager and later as the head of go-to-market, addressing needs that included student debt, the independent workforce, charitable bitcoin liquidity, associate experiences and career mobility at Fidelity.
This led me to my current role in enterprise cybersecurity as Fidelity’s Vice President Information Security Officer. My responsibilities require me to improve our cybersecurity posture for businesses at Fidelity. I work to reduce risk by ensuring our technology and data are cyber secure, supporting business growth and meeting customer needs. What I love about this role is that I have learned not only about technology and an evolving threat landscape, but also about meeting customer needs in digital assets, healthcare and employer benefits, to name a few.
At Fidelity, I am actively engaged as a member of the NC Regional Leadership Team; a sponsor for the NC Women in Technology Special Interest Group; an advisor for NC Women’s Leadership Group; a career mentor and an interviewer for an associate mobility program. I also enjoy serving as a DA trustee and being a DA room parent in the Lower School. But if you ask what I’m truly passionate about outside of work, it is spending time with my family and friends, traveling for pleasure and the culinary world.
An open, adaptable, agile mindset combined with diverse experiences has taught me that with change I learn a lot, and change can be driven from success or failure. I hope our DA students graduate with an agile mindset and have the opportunity to continuously try new things, to learn by doing and to learn from both success and failure.