By Hiral Desai, Head of Marketing
At DriveWealth, we go beyond acknowledging the diversity of our employees – we welcome and celebrate it. While recognizing the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) isn’t limited to one month, I’m excited to share the stories of several team members who have reflected on the impact of their AAPI heritage.
When I was in middle school, I had to write an essay on how I viewed the world – I called it “The Go-Between”. At 9 years old, my family and I immigrated to the U.S. from India and I was in a constant battle with myself to find belonging. I had to juggle being a good Indian daughter while living at a fast enough pace to feel like a “real American”. Instead, I felt like a caged hamster on a wheel and struggled to find myself. Things got easier as the years went by, but it wasn’t until I was blessed with my first child, an instant American citizen, that I came to realize being both Indian and American was my greatest asset – an asset I could now pass onto my children.
My heritage has taught me how to thrive with constant change and the true meaning of resiliency. While I can’t go back and change the title of that essay, I no longer feel like a “go-betweener” – I embrace and celebrate my cultures and empower others to do the same.
Maduri Asokan, Director of Product
My family taught me the values of hard work, discipline and a strong sense of community support, which I carry into everything I do personally and professionally. I credit these values with my passion for bringing people together and helping others achieve their goals. I grew up in a place where everyone looked like me, spoke like me and were from a similar background. After moving to the U.S., I saw these differences as a learning opportunity to better understand people’s unique perceptions.
Working on a product team gives me the ability to design and develop experiences using diverse thinking and inclusivity. Although there are times when others don’t agree with or even like my ideas, diversity ultimately helps build stronger teams and helps communities effectively achieve more together.
Justin Ho, Product Manager
Looking back, I could’ve never imagined the impact that my AAPI heritage brought. In the same vein, I cannot imagine what my career would’ve been like without its impact. It’s been nothing short of transformative.
Early in my career, I joined an AAPI affinity network to engage with those in the community. Over a decade later, I accepted a role with the Committee of 100, a non-profit aimed at elevating Chinese-American inclusion. As one can imagine, at a time when the pandemic had the country in lockdown and crimes against those of AAPI heritage surged, having personal beliefs dovetail with work efforts made for an even more fulfilling experience with some of the most incredible leaders in the AAPI community.
Margaret Kim, Chief Client Officer
My relationship with my AAPI heritage has evolved over time. Growing up in a small town with few POC, I endeavored to minimize my differences and simply blend in. I loved being Korean American, but not in public. This need to assimilate later evolved into a fierce pride, and I joined several activist and affinity groups in school and carried this fervor forward when I entered the workforce. At Goldman Sachs, I served as one of the Operations Asian Professionals Network committee pillar heads, sat on the AAPI Heritage Month Board, and volunteered with the Asian Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring group. I felt called to bring awareness, propel diversity and inclusion, and ultimately, fight for the representation of AAPI at large.
Diversity is important and representation matters, but this conversation is not over until AAPI are not seen as the “other.” This moment is a difficult one for AAPI in this nation, but I am hopeful we can use this as a springboard to propel forward.