Interview with Rosemary Yau

A Conversation with Rosemary Yau, Administrative Analyst

I understand that you recently went on vacation. Where?

I went to New York with a girlfriend for her birthday. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, ate and drank, and had so much fun. People downplayed Times Square but I felt like a kid, I thought it all was great. We ate at Katz's Deli, and brought back a couple of pounds of pastrami to share with my family. I can't wait to go back with my husband, when we find someone to take care of the kids. And, guess what? We ran into Maria Novelero! We were having a drink, waiting for our flight, and ran into Maria, who also was returning home—small world.

Rosemary Yau

Tell me about your family, your parents and siblings.

I was born in San Francisco. I have three older brothers, and I am the only girl and the youngest. Our family is close; I talk or text my siblings every day, either random funny things or about our parents and how they are doing. The oldest brother lives in Southern California, the other two live in East Bay, and my parents live in San Francisco. My oldest brother was born in a refugee camp and the rest of us were born at St. Mary's Hospital. My parents' love story has survived much. They met in Cambodia during the regime of the Khmer Rouge and escaped to Vietnam during the war. They were separated by force, not knowing if they would see each other again, and my mother waited at the port every day until my father returned. They took a boat to Indonesia and were robbed by Thai pirates, but they made it and were in a refugee camp where there wasn't enough food and everyone was starving. My mom was pregnant with my eldest brother but gave her food to a little girl. They came to the US with only a few dollars in the late 1970s and knew no English. My parents are fighters and the most romantic people I know. To this day, they still hold hands.

Rosemary and brothers as kids
Rosemary and brothers as kids


Rosemary and brothers as adults
Rosemary and brothers as adults


Rosemary and family
Rosemary and family


Since becoming a mom yourself, have you surprised yourself by something you do that you once promised yourself you wouldn't?

Whenever my mom would ask me to get something for her, I could never seem to find it, and she would say, "Why are you so blind? It's right there in front of you!" Now, I find myself saying exactly that to my little son when he can't find things.

What is a dynamic or tradition that you hold dear and try to continue with your own family?

We were raised as Buddhists and, while I do not practice actively, we do go to temple for both Cambodian and Chinese Lunar New Year, to cleanse ourselves and give thanks. Family time is very important to me. For example, every Monday, we have dinner with my in-laws and I would love to continue that tradition with my kids when they grow up and move out. It's a nice way to start our week. It reminds me that, regardless of any disagreements that a family may have, we are still family and should always come back to each other.

Who are the role models who inspire you? What traits do they embody that you value?

For me, it's all about family, so I would say my parents because I know the struggles that they've endured to provide us with the life we have. They started with nothing and they struggled, first in the Tenderloin and then in Double Rock, in Bayview–Hunters Point. They knew that they wanted better for us and eventually were able to move us to the Sunset District. If not for their sacrifices and struggles, I wouldn't have the education or be the person I am.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? At day's end, how do you replenish your basket?

I am definitely an extrovert. I feed off of other people's energy and, while I do have occasional bad days, I think people think of me as bubbly. I think I am, because it feels good to be happy even on a bad day. Why let little things weigh you down? People are dying and others are struggling financially or health-wise so be happy, be blessed, with what you have. And, it hurts to be sad. It hurts to be negative. I like to bring joy and to spread joy, because it's my personality and, why not? It makes me feel good as a person. If I can brighten up someone's day, I did my job. On a really bad day, okay, maybe a little glass of wine at day's end!

What intrigues you about why and how people communicate? How do you utilize what you observe or know in your day-to-day life?

I was a Speech Communications major and I had fun with it. I still get nervous when speaking in public, but I learned how to be more confident and to use my interpersonal skills to ask questions and encourage people to be more vocal.

Can you share your sense of what well-being means? With a career and family, how do you manage balance?

Rosemary with her familyI think I haven't mastered balance just yet. Having a supportive husband helps. Being able to go to work and press the "pause" button when it's family time is sometimes hard, but when my boys smile at me it makes the effort worthwhile.

How many episodes of Friends have you memorized? What do you love about the series? What other TV series have you followed?

I love Friends. If I am eating, I have to watch something and my go-to show is Friends. It's hilarious! My brothers and I are all huge fans, maybe because it was such a big part of our growing up, and it still connects us—we reference specific gags and it is like a shorthand between us. I'm embarrassed to admit this but the Kardashians are a guilty pleasure.

Have you surprised yourself by a particular accomplishment? What do you hope to achieve next?

This division has taught me a lot and given me the opportunity to grow. I've been allowed to go from finance to learning about recruitment and HR and how the division operates. If I am not growing, then I need to revisit what I am doing and what I should learn in order to develop. I want to learn how to be able to manage people and projects. So, I am not sure that I've surprised myself but I am grateful for the opportunities I've been given.

Other than Mom's Best Mac & Cheese, what recipes would you contribute to the DHM Cookbook? And what would be the cocktail that best accompanies it?

I love to cook! I make lots of things, like garlic noodles, and a pretty killer risotto, with a glass of white wine. One thing I haven't made in a while is Cambodian Papaya Salad. Another dish I love to cook is Cambodian Luc Lac, a beef Beef dishdish. My newest favorite drink is a Moscow Mule, which is made of vodka, ginger beer, and lime. I don't do measurements, everything is eye-balled, and I adjust as I think it is necessary. I love cookbooks because they're nice to look at and I love touching them.

Thank you, Rosemary, you are delightful.

- by Oralia Schatzman

View Rosemary's professional bio | Go back to interviews