Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/813543

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20 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m We Mean Business > describes how we progress as humans, and that technology is changing how we live. As human beings, regardless of gen- der, we need to be part of this evolution and innovation. At the core of human progress and innovation is an inclusive en- vironment. We can't move forward alone. We all benefit from diversity of thought. DW: Did you ever have an experience while growing up where it was assumed you couldn't handle math, science, or technology because you were a girl? Or do you feel you've experienced bias toward women in the tech industry? KW: I'm fortunate that I never experi- enced anyone telling me I could not handle any of what are traditionally viewed as the "male" subjects, like science or math. My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse, and so at a young age I was exposed to biology and medical information. Also, my father was a world-renowned amateur photographer and taught me how to mix chemicals to develop the photographs. I was excited to learn this, and so chemistry was just fun for me. As a result of these really positive experiences, I grew up with no fear about STEM subjects. But in grad school, I was one of only two female students in industrial engi- neering. While it was awkward at times, I really didn't experience major obstacles. e important lesson for me was that you should always follow your passion and not let social norms define you. Venture into anything you love and open up new paths on your journey. DW: Tell us about your parents. Did they experience any challenges in the workplace? If so, how did those chal- lenges inform your thinking and how you developed your career path? KW: My parents were born in China and then moved to Hong Kong. ey were very successful in their respective fields and immigrated to the United States af- ter their retirement. ey always pushed me to try new and diverse activities, but mostly guided me to experience things I was interested in. is molded my per- spective as I got older. I would describe my career path as both an exploration and an adventure. Natural curiosity is my guide. I am constantly asking questions and researching topics of interest to me. I love to find the answers to things I don't know. Having leaders who believe in me and push me out of my comfort zone has been key. DW: You are a member of the Cisco Asian Affinity Network (CAAN). Can you tell us a bit about what CAAN does and what your role is? KW: I'm really proud to be part of the ex- ecutive support team that provides spon- sorship and guidance to CAAN. CAAN's vision is to make Cisco a place where Asians are at their best for Cisco and the world by attracting and developing the best talent, creating networking oppor- tunities both inside and outside the com- pany for our employees, and giving back to the community. DW: A study last year by Ascend revealed that in the tech industry Asian Americans are well represented in lower-level positions, but not in the higher management and executive lev- els. In your opinion, why is that? What can be done to improve these numbers? KW: Traditional Asian values, such as "respect authority," "modesty is a virtue," and "hard work always pays off " can in- fluence our behavior and leadership ap- proach. We tend to lead from behind, but to progress to the executive level and find success there, one must lead from the front. As an Asian American leader, I strive to lead by example and inspire the new generation to move to the front and be visible leaders. DW: You're also an executive sponsor of Men for Inclusion at Cisco. Why is it important to engage men around this issue? KW: e group's mission is to shape our diversity culture and drive inclusiveness for all underrepresented groups in Cisco to fuel innovation and growth. Our goal is to shine a light on unconscious bias by ed- ucating ourselves and our peers. e work we do together includes mentorship and sponsorship, as well as best practice shar- ing among male leaders to develop and foster an inclusive culture. When I think about the many resource groups at Cisco, despite the different focus areas, each one is working to demonstrate the value and importance of diversity. Diversity of back- ground, thought, and ideas leads to amaz- ing innovation! DW: Tell us about how your mentors have influenced you. Have you men- tored or sponsored someone, or are you doing so currently? KW: Simply put, I would not be where I am without the many mentors and spon- sors I've collaborated with over the years. ese relationships have challenged me to do more, dream more, and become more. I believe mentorship is critical today for young women interested in STEM. With- out it, it's often hard for these women to see the art of the possible. Because I've gained so much from these types of relationships at work, I take time to both mentor and sponsor many people at Cisco. Some are more formal engagements, where we work on a business problem or challenge they're facing. However, I often find that more frequent ad hoc mentoring conversations can help people quickly get back on track and moving in the right direction. I'm al- ways open to offer guidance and mentor- ship wherever I can. DW Diversity of background, thought, and ideas leads to amazing innovation!

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