Paving the Path to Success

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, McKesson celebrates the many ways our Asian American and Pacific Islander employees are driving our vision of better health forward.

Read time: 4.5 minutes

In the final week of his 1976 presidential campaign, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter delivered a poignant statement about our nation: “We have become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

It’s perhaps fitting, then, that just two years later, President Carter passed legislation establishing the first part of May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week” to recognize the first Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants who came to the U.S. in pursuit of turning their dreams into success. Today, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month honors the many ways that this diverse population – one that represents numerous countries, languages, ethnicities, and traditions – has enriched our nation’s history, culture and achievements to date.

At McKesson, acknowledging and embracing diverse perspectives, backgrounds and talents is vital to how we achieve our vision of improving the health of patients everywhere. As our company celebrates AAPI Heritage Month, we relish the opportunity to continue our learning and awareness, stand in solidarity with our Pan-Asian Voices for Excellence (PAVE) Employee Resource Group (ERG), and celebrate the many ways our Asian American and Pacific Islander employees have helped us become the global leader in healthcare that we are today.

Achieving the American Dream

Khanh Vu was just two years old when his parents sold their possessions and fled the communist regime in Vietnam by boat. But Khanh stayed behind.

“My parents left me with my grandmother because the journey to North America was very unsafe for someone my age,” he explains. “Refugees often ran out of food, water and gas – all of which happened to my parents. And the escape to freedom in the U.S. or Canada wasn’t always successful.”

Khanh Vu with Hat

Khanh was nearly six before he reunited with his parents and younger brother in Vancouver, Canada. While his parents dealt with the inherent challenges of navigating a new country and language while also keeping their family afloat, it didn’t take Khanh long to meld into his new surroundings. Vancouver was richly diverse and home to a large, global immigrant population.

Ultimately, this early exposure to people with distinct backgrounds helped cement his successful future in sales. In 2013, Khanh started a job at McKesson Canada as a business development representative for McKesson’s retail pharmacy business. But he knew Canada wasn’t his home forever, so he jumped when a retail sales manager position opened on McKesson’s Pharmaceutical Distribution sales team in the San Francisco Bay Area. The role gave extra consideration to candidates who could speak Vietnamese.

It was a perfect fit.

“The Bay Area has the second-highest Vietnamese population in the U.S., so I was fortunate to work with several Vietnamese-owned independent pharmacies,” he explains. “My ability to connect with customers whose backgrounds were similar to my own was incredibly beneficial.”

Leveraging his Vietnamese background and relationship-building skills, he found himself quickly achieving multiple sales wins and recognitions. But after a couple of years, he was ready for a new challenge – one that would allow him to expand his career into McKesson’s growing Provider Solutions business.

In 2019, he took a new role with Biologics by McKesson as a regional practice liaison in Oncology and Rare Disease. Today, his sales team works across seven states to help cancer clinics and academic medical centers bring new cancer therapies to their patients. Within two years, he’s been recognized as a top sales performer.

“Moving to Biologics has been the best career move I’ve made so far,” he says. “Knowing that my work with specialty clinics is giving patients access to promising oncology therapies is incredibly motivating and rewarding.”

And while much of his success stems from his natural sales capabilities, it’s been no doubt bolstered by his exposure to diversity throughout his life, including within McKesson.

Today, Khanh is a national board member of OPEN, McKesson’s LBGTQ+ ERG, and he recently joined the national board of PAVE, where he looks forward to helping increase awareness about Asian heritage and serving as a role model to other minority employees. He’s also actively involved in Biologics’ Diversity Inclusion (DI) Council. All three groups are committed to fostering increased awareness for diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as mentoring members on their career development and growth.

One of the key skills he’s honed since joining these groups, he says, is how to tactfully approach diverse perspectives – especially in the wake of recent social injustices.

“My business is people, so it helps quite a bit when I can understand and relate to them,” he says. “While racially and ethnically diverse, the places I’ve lived are also very liberal, so I was kind of sheltered when it came to professionally navigating diversity of thought. Being in these ERGs has taught me how to effectively work with people whose social and political viewpoints are very different from my own.”

Beyond his ongoing career development, much of his drive has been influenced by seeing diversity represented in McKesson’s top leadership. One of those leaders who inspires him in particular is Brandon Tom, vice president and general manager of Biologics, as well as founder of the Biologics DI Council.

“Brandon is also Asian,” he says. “Seeing leaders like Brandon – leaders who look like me – is motivating, because I know achieving that level of success is not out of my reach.”

And that’s something he’s striving to do. In the future, he aspires to move into a leadership role and become a people leader at McKesson.

“I watched my parents struggle in a new land, and that’s made me grateful for every obstacle I’ve faced – it pushes me to always be in the pursuit of excellence,” he says. “I’m grateful for McKesson’s support in helping me build my American dream.”