A few weeks ago, I presented my research findings on Asian women leaders’ corporate journeys to a group of high-achieving Asian professionals at Medtronic, a multi-billion dollar company. This opportunity came because a former Johnson & Johnson colleague connected me to one of her superstar team members, Janet. Janet and I bonded over coffee and at the end of our talk, she asked if I’d like to participate as a speaker at the Asian Impact Network at Medtronic (AIM). I was thrilled to be part of AIM’s signature event.
This was the second time in the past year I shared my research findings on Asian women in corporate leadership. One year ago today, I spoke at AOL’s New York offices at their Asian professionals’ network. It was an exciting event and also timely, as it was soon after defending my dissertation. Being able to share the study with professionals who were interested in this topic was extremely gratifying.
Reflecting on these two enriching experiences made me think about one of the research findings from my study which is: Finding #2 Receiving Guidance and Help. Many of the leaders in the study spoke extensively on this topic. Whether it was early on as a student adapting to the American culture, or later in life as they stepped into leadership roles, each woman discussed achieving success because of the guidance and help they received from key people in their lives. Support came in different ways for the women. For some, their parents were role models who provided advice during adolescence. And early in their immigration journey – while going through the acculturation process – when faced with barriers such as language or cultural issues, the women enlisted the help of a teacher, tutor, friends or parents.
Throughout their careers, the women did not have a concrete blueprint for their paths, but instead, the women approached their journey with openness to opportunities. As the women progressed in their careers, the support and guidance from their managers, mentors, or role models were critical to their success in corporate America. When help was not readily available, the women actively sought out assistance from people around them.
At the Medtronic AIM Event, April 2018.
The corporate environment is not one that should be or can be navigated alone. More than ever, we need to rely on our colleagues and managers to achieve results. For Asian women, our natural inclination may be to apply a strong work ethic, persevere, and attempt to excel on our own. But instead of climbing that hill alone, like the successful women in my study, we could gain from receiving guidance and help from people we trust and admire. We can significantly benefit our careers by learning from others’ successes and failures. It’s also important to remember that just because you ask for help, it does not mean you are weak; it means that you are achieving more by being open to learning.
For my own journey, I could not have gotten this far without the support from many people who believed in my abilities and gave me a chance to grow my career. The Medtronic speaking engagement served as a reminder to stay connected to my network, be open to opportunities, and most of all, believe that I have a valuable message to share.
To learn about research finding number #1, please click here.