A Global Perspective

Loving people from all backgrounds drives Sue Barsamian’s success

By Marisa Larson, KSU Foundation

Sue Barsamian portrait

A year spent studying at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, set Sue Barsamian’s life and career on a path emphasizing global inclusiveness.

“I think that going to Zurich for a year of post-graduate work after completing my undergrad at K-State really set me on a lifetime journey of loving diversity,” Barsamian said. “I went from Kansas, having never traveled outside of the country, to suddenly living in Switzerland and going to a university where people came, from not only all over Europe but all over the world, to study engineering and technical disciplines. I discovered my superpower, which is loving people from all different backgrounds and perspectives. This set me off on a career in Silicon Valley when I got back from Switzerland.”

Sue Barsamian grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from K-State in 1981. She attributes her time at K-State and the mentors she met there with setting her on her path to success.

“Don Lenhert was a strong mentor of mine while I was at K-State. He was instrumental in not only my electrical engineering degree, but also in setting me up for success,” Barsamian said. “He helped me formulate my idea and application for the scholarship to go to Switzerland. And we
are still in contact today.”

Barsamian’s 40-year career in the tech industry has encompassed Hewlett Packard, where she held a range of executive roles, Mercury Interactive and Verity. Now semiretired, she serves on multiple boards, including Five9, Box, NortonLifelock and the KSU Foundation. She served as the chair of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and was inducted into the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering Hall of Fame. Barsamian has expertise in enterprise software, cybersecurity and cloud operations. Her passion is working with global, diverse teams.


“At the end of the day, it’s people who make it happen. Recognizing individuals who personally set an example for diversity and inclusion is one way to continue the march to make progress.”
Sue Barsamian


“I like the breadth and diversity that goes along with engaging a wide variety of people. At work that means global roles,” she said. “That also means being committed to diversity in employees. When companies are more diverse and have more diverse leadership and boards, they have better results. Variety breeds better final decisions, and it hopefully causes people to take into account perspectives they hadn’t thought of.”

To support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the college, Barsamian has created two awards — the Sue Barsamian Engineering Faculty and Staff Award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion and the Sue Barsamian Engineering Student Award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion.

“I believe that both recognition and targets drive change,” Barsamian said. “At the end of the day, it’s people who make it happen. Recognizing individuals who personally set an example for diversity and inclusion is one special way to continue the march to make progress.”

Barsamian’s love of K-State fuels her desire to give back, both financially and of her time.

“I’ve always been committed to giving back to K-State because it was so important to me,” Barsamian said. “I’m really proud of K-State’s origin as a land-grant institution and its focus on
educating the young adults of Kansas and beyond, including many first-generation college students.

“There is an important place in higher education for organizations like K-State because everyone deserves an equal opportunity regardless of their background. In the College of Engineering, I am very impressed with Dean Matt O’Keefe’s leadership as a dean and his commitment to diversity and inclusion as K-State and the college make progress.”

Based on her years of life and career experience, Barsamian’s advice to students today is, “In life and in work, surround yourself with variety so that your opinions as a person and your decisions as an employee are grounded in enough input for you to have a well-rounded perspective.”