Asian American Business Development Center

Outside In

Challenge

We identified the need for Asian Americans in the middle executive level to receive leadership mentoring from successful business role models in the Asian community who could also offer a different industry perspective.

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In 2014, the AABDC launched its Business Mentorship Network, aimed at matching Asian American middle-level executives with mentors who had a proven track record of success, and who worked outside of their industries. The intention was to develop leadership potential of Asians so that they can more fully help their businesses meet 21st century challenges.

The benefits to corporations would be the development of a competitive advantage of a stronger Asian workforce who would be an asset for companies seeking to grow in the Asian markets, deepen the leadership pool to be more diverse and inclusive, and provide a way for established Asian American business leaders recruited from among the over 700 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business award winners (established by AABDC) to make a contribution in developing others.

The launch was sponsored by State University of New York’s Confucius Institute for Business, Macy’s and Pfizer. AABDC started the first mentorship program at Pfizer in 2016, matching 7 Asian American mentees from the company with AABDC award winners in a 12-month program. Sponsor Pfizer saw the benefits of a program that would offer a different element of mentorship by selecting mentors from non-pharma industries. For this program, mentors were from AIG, Verizon, myVillage, Xerox, Con Edison, IBM and Thomson Reuters.

Outcomes

The Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Awards has resulted in a robust database of over 700 accomplished and influential business leaders from a variety of industries and from across the U.S. Because of their employer’s sponsorship and The mentorship program supported Pfizer’s Global Asia Alliance employee group’s goal of sponsoring and supporting its members’ career development. Mentees and mentors provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, with mentees saying they were well matched, found the outside industry perspective valuable, and were able to seek advice about workplace questions. An added positive element was the cultural affinity; a number of mentees felt that having a mentor from the same community led to a greater bond and a more natural identification with issues they faced.

Our group started the Outstanding 50 awards 16 years ago in order to share the success stories of Asian American business role models. Many Asians in the workplace believe that the way to get ahead is by putting their heads down and not attracting attention. We wanted to shatter that myth by providing a pool of accomplished business leaders from the community who can share their wisdom to the next generations and enrich Corporate America through their diverse experiences.

John Wang, Founder and President, AABDC

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