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A Discussion with Azie Aziz, Patent Agent at Womble Bond Dickinson: Leading by Example



Interviewee:

Azie Aziz, Ph.D.,

Patent Agent, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP Houston

 

Interviewer:

Adam Jaffe

ADAPT Communications Team


I sat down with Azie Aziz, a Malaysian immigrant who has made Houston her home and winner of the 2023-24 Houston Intellectual Property Law Association (HIPLA) Excellence in Diversity Award.  She imagined and curated one of the most innovative diversity projects in Houston – the Art & Diversity Initiative.  Our discussion focused on her background, reasons for being the key representative for ADAPT at Womble, mentorship, and her plans for the future.    

 

Tell us about the Art & Diversity Initiative:

 

I led and curated Womble Bond Dickinson’s Art & Diversity Initiative, a series of rotating art exhibitions organized to engage with local artists and create visibility for them in our Houston office.  This annual initiative, which launched in December 2023, is a series of rotating art exhibitions organized to engage with local artists and create visibility for them. The initial installation, ‘Nos Populi: We the People’, exhibits art from diverse Houston artists that highlight the diverse cultures, perspectives, and identities of Houstonians. The exhibition is installed across the main floors of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Houston office.

 

 

What inspired you to lead ADAPT’s mission at Womble?

 

I grew up in Malaysia in a small town called Teluk Intan. I remember understanding quite young that I would have to grow up very fast if I wanted to improve my life. I have worked so hard to even get to the same starting point as many of my peers. We did not have a television at home, and I remember that the only entertainment available was a textbook from school. I did not have a professional role model growing up. And the idea of going to college sounded like a foreign concept.


My life changed when I was selected to enroll in a government funded boarding school, where I learned about going to college. This boarding school system was established in Malaysia to nurture outstanding students to excel in academics and extracurricular activities.  Because I received this opportunity, I became the first in my family to go to college. My childhood experiences growing up without privileges have sparked my passion for helping people challenged to find opportunities. 


When I heard about ADAPT at the end of my secondment at Google, I drew a parallel between ADAPT’s mission and EMERGE mentor Program – to inform and provide access to opportunity.   

 

 

What is the EMERGE mentor Program? 

 

I discovered EMERGE through a Google search with the keywords "underserved high performing students Houston." There, I found the EMERGE website. I wrote EMERGE an email expressing my interest in volunteering. My first EMERGE event was EMERGE Career Day at Rice University in 2018.  Through EMERGE Career Day at Rice, I met my current Firm’s Office Managing Partner, Jeff Whittle, who introduced me to patent law. EMERGE is very important to my life because it gave me the opportunity to be where I am today. That is the reason EMERGE is so close to my heart. I have a deep belief in the interconnectedness of humanity and its role in unlocking potential. 

 

What has been the impact of Emerge?

 

One of my mentees, Nolan Zeng who is now an engineering student at Duke University became interested in pursuing a career in patent law.  Throughout his mentorship with me, I invited Nolan to my visit and attend information sessions with the patent attorneys.  As Nolan became more interested in patent law, Nolan expressed his interest in interning at the patent prosecution group at Womble Bond Dickinson.  Nolan wrote me to say “Ms. Aziz is a wonderful mentor and friend that I was introduced to through the EMERGE Mentorship program. Through the program, Ms. Aziz provided advice and glimpses of the professional world, encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and network with working professionals, while remaining myself. Just as importantly though, Ms. Aziz shared her cultural heritage, hobbies, and life stories so that I also grew as a person throughout the program. Even now, after the program is finished, Ms. Aziz is somebody I can turn to and confide in anything. Thank you for being an integral part of my journey Ms. Aziz!”

 

What are your plans for the future with ADAPT?

 

I feel the same story can happen to an individual who has potential but lacks information and access to the patent law. It is time for me to give back. That is a strong reason that I want to contribute to ADAPT.


At Womble Bond Dickinson, we have been actively supporting ADAPT’s Mission.  To date, Womble has provided 16 mentors and actively participated in the development of the Professional Guide.  This year, Womble continues to partner with a local university and corporation to organize student outreach via a panel discussion on dismantling barriers and creating pathways for success.  I also encourage more participation from my colleagues at Womble. For example, I partnered with Black Affinity Group (BAG) at Womble to encourage BAG members and ally to volunteer with ADAPT.  I also have a plan to sit down with other affinity groups to encourage them to jointly agree to work on one of the programs available on the ADAPT platform.  I also enhance communication within Womble by sending a monthly update to Womble ADAPT volunteers and sharing what I learn from ADAPT Quarterly calls.




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 ADAPT Stories features stories and inspirations from the ADAPT community to celebrate the journey and to spotlight the on-the-ground work to advance diversity across patent teams.

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