Jared Yee, MBA
Senior Client Service Manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance
Margaret T. Ling, Esq.
NYS Agency Business Development & Underwriting Counsel at Amtrust Title
Rachel H. Kim
Vice President, Senior Claims Counsel at Sompo International
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Jared: Make yourself irreplaceable. By having this mindset, I’ve always tried to go above and beyond the expectations of a job. That’s lead to self-growth as well as new opportunities in my career. I initially thought this advice was about job security but quickly learned that it drives you to innovate and be a better version of yourself every day. When you try to make yourself irreplaceable, you’re often creating value by challenging the status quo.
Margaret: Be genuine; sincere and be yourself; never underestimate your ability to know the law and be a good attorney.
Rachel: How you treat people matters. Particularly those who may tend to get overlooked.
Relationships matter. This is a relationship business. Network, follow up, and network some more. Go to networking events.
Members of the AAPI community are often viewed as the “model minority” – smart, hardworking, team-players but state that they are not always sought out for leadership roles. What, if any challenges have you faced because of this perception and how have you overcome those challenges?
Jared: People often think of the “model minority” stereotype as a good thing, but it’s a double-edged sword. It’s because of the perception that Asians are smart and hard working that they are often left out of the discussion when it comes to workplace discrimination. My personal experience has been mostly positive, but I have occasionally faced challenges of people having preconceived notions of who I am. I found the best way to overcome this is by communicating and building relationships. Sometimes people just need the opportunity to learn more about you. Finding those opportunities with everyone isn’t always easy and sometimes you have to put yourself out there but it’s very much worth the effort.
Margaret: Very true, Asians are stereotyped as we are quiet. I have faced quick judgment from others that Asians are complacent and passive. My response to this is to tell others that our Asian Culture engrains in us to be quiet and listen. We are very intuitive and think, observe and absorb what happens around us before we act. My Parents always taught me to listen and not say anything unless it truly was substantive and mattered. Mindless banter was not necessary. My experience in my legal career has been to say that Asians are “Quiet Thunder”. We will tolerate a great deal until we speak up and then it’s like a volcanic eruption. I have overcome other’s stereotypes by speaking up more and being more active and engaged. I am always gracious and have realized that being quiet will only lead to exclusion and judgment by others. I tell others that being quiet is not a sign of passive weakness as we are thinking and analyzing. I have continued to try to break the stereotypes and show them that AAPI Attorneys are as articulate and strong as others. We just show it and act on it in a different way.
Rachel: When I was in elementary school, my father would periodically hand me envelopes with a small amount of cash (true story) in an envelope labeled, “Leadership Fund” and would say, “Go, be a leader at something with this money.” When I was younger, I rarely spoke up; the double consciousness was constantly a factor, and sometimes I was my own worst critic. Going to a rigorous graduate school forced me to continually speak up, and I’m going to conflate Questions 1 and 2 here, but the best advice I have to combat double consciousness and/or being your own worst critic is to push yourself to speak up. Volunteering to lead meetings, conferences, and challenging yourself to be a speaker on panels or leading your own. Learning to find a way to express your thoughts but also showing you can listen attentively and you have the ability to be flexible in your analysis and speaking style. As one of my mentors once said to me, “Use everyday opportunities to show that you are a leader.”
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you began your career?
Jared: Speaking up and having a voice is so important. Early in my career, I kept my ideas and opinions to myself, especially in large group settings. I thought it was more important to listen since everyone in the room had more experience than me but learned that’s not always the case. Experience and length of time are not synonymous, and sometimes your unique perspective can broaden the conversation. I also found myself learning a lot more by engaging in conversations rather than just listening. I think everyone has some level of apprehension speaking up early in their careers, but the sooner you get over that fear the better off you’ll be.
Margaret: I know now that it is okay to be more outspoken and articulate as long as it is substantiated. I have learned over time that the world and society does not always think the same way as us. I have learned to trust my judgment and intuition when someone is not being sincere and genuine. After 40 years as an Attorney, I now know that others are not always on your page with the same genuine motives. Many times they are taking advantage of the helpful, kind, hardworking and quiet person. I mentor many young attorneys and law students and teach them to focus on the realities of society.” Do not let anyone crush your thunder and take advantage of your hard work and effort”
Rachel: Bring out the excellence of others around you. Be team oriented – a rising tide lifts all boats.
Simultaneously, be confident and know your worth. Dare to create your dream job.
Pick and choose your battles. Align yourself with mentors, managers, senior personnel – someone who will help you see the big picture.
Don’t lose sight of your company’s vision.
Don’t put your head down and simply work. The “goodwill lap” is very much needed – walking around the hallway and engaging with colleagues, particularly from different groups.
Choose connection, every time.
Master the ABC’s of your job, and then take on more.
Excel and become a subject matter expert in one area, but find the balance where you are not just pigeonholed into one area, but challenge yourself to take on additional subject areas.
In your opinion, what needs to happen in order to break the corporate glass ceiling and expand the presence of Asian Americans in executive suites?
Jared: Asian discrimination in both education and the workforce should be talked about more, as its often minimized or overlooked. Companies need to promote and increase the representation of Asian Americans in leadership positions. Currently, Asians make up a very small percentage of senior leadership positions despite having a high percentage of graduate and professional degrees. Finally, Asian Americans need to continue to develop their leadership skills, advocate for themselves, and seek out leadership opportunities.
Margaret: There needs to be a better understanding; implementation and practice of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging from the Corner Office and Upper Management. It will then flow down so that everyone feels embraced regardless of how different they may be. In choosing DEI Chief Diversity Officers, Individuals who truly care and practice DEI and Belonging must be hired. It shouldn’t be hiring someone just to check off a box. Good Corporate Culture where DEI and B is actually embraced and practiced correctly amongst everyone in a Company will lead to an inclusion environment where everyone is happy. Happy Staff leads to being more productive and greater success and profitability.
Rachel: Proven leadership; continued visibility; sponsorship.