Women is...: Network Peripherals' Pauline Lo Alker

Network Peripherals' Pauline Lo Alker

profession: President and CEO, Network Peripherals Inc., which, like an Internet plumber of sorts, makes software and hardware to make networks run faster and better

company's annual revenue:
$47 million in 1995, up 41%.

the basic story: Seasoned Silicon Valley pro. Known for spotting a niche and sticking to a plan. Led the most successful company to go public in 1994.

born: 1943

education: BA in math and music, Arizona State.
how she got her start: Arrived in the United States in 1960 from Hong Kong, entered the computer industry by typing documents at General Electric Co., and worked her way into its software division. Became an engineer.

then what: Worked in management, marketing and engineering positions for Convergent Technologies, Intel, Four Phase Systems and Amdahl. In 1984, co-founded Counterpoint Computers, a manufacturer of multiprocessor Unix systems, with $5 million in venture capital, served as CEO until Acer, a Taiwanese company, bought it in 1987. Recruited to head NPI in 1991.

on starting at the bottom:"I am not ashamed to tell you I started by pounding the pavement for a year and going through the back door. A company wouldn't hire me for the job I wanted, so I went in below my abilities."

words she lives by: "I know not, therefore I do. I lack, therefore I leverage. I have little, therefore I choose. I fear not, therefore I conquer."

what sets her company apart: "You must put yourself in the customer's place; that's what differentiates our company. We bypass all this technological mumbo jumbo. You notice I don't talk in technical terms?"

on life after going public: "Successful public companies can get carried away by losing some of their objectives, letting external forces run the company. It's my job as leader of the company not to let Wall Street expectations drive the company."

favorite book: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu -- "If you know yourself, you know your enemy. Search out where the opportunity is for you. It might be something overlooked, something right for the small guy, who can be very agile. Always ask yourself who you are."
how she keeps perspective: Reflects on fleeing war-torn China as a child. "We lost everything and had to start all over again. Today, I'm not concerned about saying, 'What if I fail?' As long as I maintain my sense of self worth, I have the strength to come back up again."

advice for younger colleagues: "Don't ever apologize for your heritage. Never compare yourself to the other guys."

on being a woman in a male-dominated industry: "We women have to take responsibility. If we don't feel suitable in the industry, we put ourselves in a box first."

on being a "double minority": "Hey, there is prejudice, but I choose not to be aware of it. I could be a big target -- you know I am -- but I don't feel I am. Many people underestimate me."

on her self-image: "My ego is very healthy, and I use the word carefully. I know who I am, and I know who I'm not."