Below is an article originally written by Tenzin Kunsal, Nivedita Mittal, Gabe Ramos, Julie Truong, and Wing Yung at PowerToFly Partner Yelp, and published on October 28, 2019. Go to Yelp's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ColorCoded (a Yelp employee resource group) hosted a panel discussion called "Beyond Labels: Stories of Asian Pacific Islanders (API)* at Yelp."
We heard stories from five API Yelpers about their cultural backgrounds, identities, and thoughts on what it means to be an API in today's world. Their stories helped us understand that identity is both multilayered and contextual, and that individuality goes beyond labels.
Read more from their unique perspectives below.
Tenzin Kunsal, Events + Partnerships, Engineering Recruiting
From a young age, I knew the concept of "home" was complicated. Like many refugees, my family called multiple countries home. My grandparents left my first home, Tibet, in the 1960s, after it was taken over by China. My second home, India, is where I was born and where I grew up, in a Tibetan refugee community. I was not automatically granted Indian citizenship, so for the first few years of my life, I was state-less, born without a country. That was until 1996, when Minneapolis became my third home. Soon after, I became an American citizen and finally officially "belonged" to a country. Growing up, this was all very confusing. I never felt like I fully fit in anywhere. It wasn't until college that I started to accept the multifacetedness of my identity and that it's okay to call multiple places "home."
Nivedita Mittal, Software Engineer, Reader Experience
I moved to the U.S. four years ago to get my Master's in Computer Science. Since then, it's been a journey of self-discovery. When I moved from Mumbai to Boston, I always said "I'm from Mumbai, India." Then, after moving to San Francisco, it became "I'm from Boston." Something that has always stuck with my identity is how my immigration status defined whether I "belonged." Whether it's finding a job that sponsors your H-1B visa, or filling out your green card, defining who you are and whether you belong in the first place is an ongoing insecurity. It didn't help that during grad school, every conversation I had with other international students revolved around my visa situation. The same applied to recruiting conversations with companies—I would always get questions like, "Did you get your H-1B yet? Did they file your green card already?" Once this is all said and done, I wonder if I'll finally find that sense of belonging, or whether it'll still be a conscious thought in my head to remind people that I belong here.
Gabe Ramos, Director, CorpEng
I identify as Filipino American, a person of color, and a Hapa. "Hapa" is a Hawaiian word that's used to describe people who are part Asian and part Caucasian. Growing up in the Bay Area, I bounced around schools that had different ethnic make-ups. People often can't tell what race I am. When I was in a predominantly Black and Latino school, classmates teased me for being "white." When I was in a mostly white Palo Alto public school, classmates teased me for being "Japanese" because they didn't know what race I was. I felt like I was between worlds because I didn't pass for white yet often didn't feel Filipino enough. Learning about different racial identities in college was pivotal for me. I have a liberal arts background, and my education really helped me learn about other Asian Americans' experiences, the history of racial violence in the U.S., and anti-miscegenation laws. This helped me gain more of a sense of shared history. Most importantly, this empowered me to feel more ownership over my opinions of my own racial and cultural identity.
Julie Truong, Software Engineer, Restaurant Plan
From my last name, you may assume that I'm Vietnamese; I'm actually Chinese. My family immigrated from China to Vietnam (and later to the U.S.), and in order to blend in, my paternal grandfather changed our last name. My family is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. At any given family gathering, you can hear English, Cantonese, and Vietnamese—all within the span of a couple minutes. I grew up in a primarily Latinx/Black/Samoan/Fillipino neighborhood in the East Bay. When I was younger, I had an idea of what being a "cool Asian" entailed, and Chinese people weren't necessarily portrayed in this light. So I actually wished I were Fillipino, just like the cool kids in school. Now, as an adult living in the Bay Area, I feel I'm actually quite privileged. There's a large Asian American population here, and I don't have to think about my cultural identity very often. Interestingly, I find I have to think more about my gender and sexual orientation and how these parts of my identity show up in my personal and professional life.
Wing Yung, Vice President, Engineering
I grew up near Arcadia, California, in a community with many other Asian Americans. Most of my classmates in public school were like me—our parents immigrated here, and we were born here. I can speak three dialects of Chinese (poorly): Mandarin (which I learned through lessons), Cantonese (which my parents speak at home because they grew up in Hong Kong), and Wenzhounese (my grandparents' dialect). Throughout college I became more aware of my Asian identity, but didn't seek out opportunities to explore it. Early on in my career at IBM, one of my managers sent me to an Asian leadership development program. In retrospect, it was one of the first times I became aware that leadership comes in many forms. I'm very much aware of the fact that I'm often the only (or one of the few) Asians in leadership settings. It's important to me to be a role model for others so that they know there are paths to these roles.
What ties all of these stories together is a sense of belonging that impelled us to redefine our identities on our own terms. Finding the right communities and support groups was critical for our journeys of self-discovery. The process of preparing for this panel was in itself extremely empowering, as it allowed us to dig deeper and reflect on what makes us who we are. Opportunities like these provide a platform to learn about others' experiences and to realize how much representation influences our lives. It's important to remind ourselves that sharing these stories makes us stronger and is an important part of cultivating community.
Want to be a part of the dialogue? Here are a few steps you can take right now!
- Join a resource group/meetup/support group that focuses on diversity and inclusion. We have employee resource groups here at Yelp, including Colorcoded, Diverseburst, and Awesome Women in Engineering (AWE).
- For a more personal conversation, grab coffee with someone who identifies as an API to hear more about their journey.
*In the context of this conversation, API stands for Asian Pacific Islanders—people with origins in Asia or the Pacific Islands.
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Below is an article originally published on the 1871 Blog on August 15, 2019. This article is about the CEO of PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
12th Annual Momentum Awards to Recognize Relativity CEO and LinkedIn Alumnus as Entrepreneurial Champion
CHICAGO (August 8, 2019) -- 1871 and The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) announced today that Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity and the former SVP of Global Solutions at LinkedIn, will receive the Entrepreneurial Champion Award for his impact on Chicago's founder community at the 12th Annual Momentum Awards.
"There's a vibrant tech community here in Chicago, and it's humbling to be recognized for this award among so many great tech leaders and champions in the city," said Mike Gamson, CEO of Relativity. "I'm excited to continue to work with 1871 and the entire community to make Chicago an inviting, exciting, and inclusive place to work – where innovative, mission-driven organizations like Relativity can thrive."
As LinkedIn's first Chicago employee, Gamson was instrumental in founding and growing Chicago's LinkedIn office and has supported numerous companies in the city and its surrounding areas as an angel investor, mentor, board member, and advisor. Gamson has spent a significant amount of time advocating for founders both within 1871 and Chicago's greater tech ecosystem.
In his new role as CEO of global legal technology company Relativity, Gamson partners closely with Founder and Executive Chairman Andrew Sieja to help Relativity continue fulfilling its mission for its customers: organize data, discover the truth, and act on it.
The Entrepreneurial Champion Award is given to an entrepreneur to recognize their individual dedication to the Chicago tech community through mentorship, civic leadership, and economic contributions. Past recipients of the Entrepreneurial Champion Award include Linda Darragh of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Ellen Rudnick of the Polsky Center at the University of Chicago, and former CEC Board Chairman Jim O'Connor, Jr.
"I can't imagine a better recipient for this year's Entrepreneurial Champion Award than Mike Gamson," said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. "He's transformed the futures of many founders here at 1871 and in the Chicagoland area. I'm proud to recognize him as a champion not only because of his impact on the local startup community, but also because he personifies what it means to be an entrepreneur: collaborative, passionate, and committed to innovation."
In addition to the Entrepreneurial Champion Award, several other honors will be presented at the 12th Annual Momentum Awards on September 19, including the Corporate Champion Award, Chicagoness Award, Momentum Rising Star Award (of which Relativity is a prior winner), and the Momentum Award. The event will be attended by Chicago's best and brightest tech innovators, corporate leaders and civic supporters. It is the largest gathering of the tech community annually and the primary fundraiser for the CEC, which supports the activities and operations of 1871.
At Relativity, we make software to help users organize data, discover the truth, and act on it. Our e-discovery platform is used by more than 13,000 organizations around the world to manage large volumes of data and quickly identify key issues during litigation, internal investigations, and compliance projects. Relativity has over 160,000 active users in 40+ countries from organizations including the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 70 Fortune 100 companies, and 199 of the Am Law 200. Relativity's cloud solution, RelativityOne, offers all the functionality of Relativity in a secure and comprehensive SaaS product. Relativity has been named one of Chicago's Top Workplaces by the Chicago Tribune for seven consecutive years. Please contact Relativity or visit our website for more information.
1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 350 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit www.1871.com/momentum for more information.
Below is part of an article originally written by Tatum Hunter at Built In Chicago, and published on September 3, 2019. This part of the article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Relativity awarded $250K to Sandoval Elementary. Sandoval is a dual-language school that serves 900 students in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood. The Wired to Learn grant, awarded over three years, will go toward new technologies, school labs and teacher training. Previous recipients of Relativity's educational grants have reported better attendance, test scores and student engagement. [Press Release]
Below is an article originally written by Alton Zenon III at Built In Chicago, and published on September 10, 2019. This part of the article is about PowerToFly Partner Relativity. Go to Relativity's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
When do you know that you've found your calling? For Relativity's Senior Application Administrator Mary Tagler, it was when she realized she not only loved the work, but was also good at it.
While not every technologist's path to finding their dream career is linear, many experience an epiphany when they find a company and role they're passionate about. We spoke with three women in Chicago about how they found their way to tech — and when they knew it was exactly where they should be.
What started out as lending a hand in a short-term project turned into a brand new career for Senior Application Administrator Mary Tagler at e-discovery company Relativity. She found her lane after leaving life in the finance world — a jump she said was possible only due to the opportunity present within the tech industry.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?
I didn't pursue a career in tech so much as it was a happy accident. After spending the first part of my career as a financial planner, I moved away from the client-side of the business and helped lead the effort to enhance the firm's technology platform. When we implemented Salesforce, we needed someone to manage the instance — I stepped up, thinking it would be temporary. I quickly realized I not only loved the work, but I was also good at it. Not having a traditional tech background did make me feel like an imposter at first, but those feelings eventually faded.
Building things is the most enjoyable part of my job.
What do you love most about your tech career, and what aspects of your job really make you light up?
I love the flexibility a career in tech has afforded me. I can work across virtually any industry, which allowed me to jump from financial services to legal tech — there aren't a lot of professions that allow for that. That flexibility also allows me to collaborate with others across industries, time zones and continents, whether it be problem-solving, troubleshooting or mentoring.
Building things is the most enjoyable part of my job. I love the challenge of designing a solution that solves a problem or creates efficiency, whether that be a business case or personal project.
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