Advancing Life & Work

What Does a Women Veteran Look Like?


Kathy Takayama grew up a U.S. Navy brat and followed in her father’s footsteps, serving for five years as a Navy officer. Her father retired as a captain after more than 30 years, including time served as a POW at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War.

5.	45 years ago - Kathy Takayama's Dad returned home after having been a POW at the Hanoi Hilton5. 45 years ago - Kathy Takayama's Dad returned home after having been a POW at the Hanoi Hilton

As an applied mathematics major at the University of California, Davis, Kathy met a recruiter who said, “Have I got a deal for you!”, and convinced her to serve five years as a technical instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida. There she trained officers and enlisted personnel responsible for operating nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines. She started by teaching enlisted math but quickly moved to teach nuclear reactor theory. Just two years out of college, Kathy was trusted with a leadership position as the Division Director of the Officer Mathematics Department. She left the Navy as Lieutenant Nakagawa (maiden name) with a Navy achievement medal, and she is particularly proud of her expert pistol and expert rifle ribbons.

When asked if she ever served any time at sea, the answer is yes – a 4-hour tour, which was just long enough to peek through the periscope of the sub after traveling beyond the horizon.

While at Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Roseville, California site, Kathy launched the Veterans Employee Resource Network (VERN), and currently serves as co-chairman. The Roseville VERN team cultivates a professional network of employees who served in the Armed Forces and their supporters. They devote time to supporting Veterans and Veteran causes.​ The 40+ member team is very active in the local community, raising $3500 and donating over 600 volunteer hours in 2017.

Outside of work, Kathy is an active, plank, lifetime member of the Women Veterans Alliance (WVA), volunteers as a board member of Women Veterans Giving (WVG), raises funds for her father’s scholarship via Wreaths Across America (WAA), and presents $10,000 in yearly scholarships to graduating high school seniors in memory of her late husband, Mike Takayama. This summer, Kathy will begin a Master’s in Business for Veterans at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

​Kathy’s son, Ryan, ​is working on his MBA at the University of Nevada after graduating with a BS degree in mechanical engineering. In her spare time, ​Kathy enjoys remodeling her home, photography, golf, and cheering on the San Francisco Giants – go Giants!

Kathy Takayama honored as a Hometown Hero by the Sacramento KingsKathy Takayama honored as a Hometown Hero by the Sacramento Kings

Kathy was recently honored as a Hometown Hero by the Sacramento Kings, recognized in the Women Veterans Alliance Newsletter, and featured in an article, "What does a Women Veteran look like," in Homeland Magazine.


Sr Program Manager at Hewlett Packard EnterpriseSr Program Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
About the author:  Kathy was recently nominated for HPE's Women Excellence Award.  This prestigious award recognizes extraordinary HPE women across our company who embody HPE values by demonstrating leadership excellence, outstanding achievement, and strength of character both inside and outside of HPE.

Kathy is also a results-oriented, high energy Program Manager with 15+ years’ experience orchestrating complex, cross-functional, pan-Hewlett Packard Enterprise projects. Passionately leads R&D teams that deliver in either waterfall or agile product life cycles. Exceptional leadership abilities, with a proven track record of successfully delivering some of lab’s most strategic programs, consistently exceeding stakeholder and customer expectations.

Stay connected to Kathy via LinkedIn and if you want to learn more about HPE's Veterans Program visit

 Kathy is a Plank and Lifetime Member of the Women Veterans Alliance.  

She is a Board Member (Secretary) for Women Veterans Giving as well as the associated non-profit and chairs the Conference Committee, that finds professional development opportunities for our Lady Vets.  

Recently Kathy was accepted into the Master of Business for Veterans program at the University of Southern California Marshall.


Susan Graye
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