How Autodesk Asian Network cultivates belonging and professional growth

3 min read

The Autodesk Asian Network (AAN) employee resource group (ERG) was founded in 2019 to create a sense of community and support for all of Autodesk’s Asian employees. Its mission is to create empowerment and belonging globally for Asians at Autodesk by driving leadership and professional development to empower Asian employees, raising awareness of Asian culture to encourage employee engagement, and building partnerships between employees and local Asian communities.

I’ve gained valuable insight and advice from AAN-organized professional development events to help me advance in my career, so I was honored to take on the role of AAN global lead earlier this year. While we have representation of Asians in Autodesk as individual contributors, the lack of parity of Asians in senior leadership roles stood out to me as a challenge. I was motivated to serve as the global lead of AAN to advocate for the needs of our Asian employee community and find ways to support Asian employees advancing into management and especially senior management roles.

AAN members get to volunteer to support the local communities where Autodesk operates, attend professional development sessions to get advice, network with other employees, participate in mentorship programs, and celebrate our heritage and cultural festivals together like Lunar New Year, Diwali, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month

Asian Heritage Month is an annual global celebration at Autodesk, and this year’s theme is “Embracing Cultural Identity.” We are hosting events aligned to this theme throughout the month of May, including a keynote from Jane Hyun, author of Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling; a virtual panel discussion with four of our senior Asian leaders; and a variety of celebrations at local offices around the world.

Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity within the Asian community. We are not a homogenous group; there are significant cultural differences between East Asians and South Asians, first-generation Asian Americans and third-generation Asian Americans, Vietnamese and Korean and Japanese. Our ethnicities and where we grow up are a big part of our identities, but there is so much more depth to the Asian community. I believe having the opportunity to celebrate the diversity within the community helps create the awareness that Autodesk is a global company, and our Asian colleagues bring their corresponding perspectives with them to work.

Cultural heritage is multifaceted in more ways than what meets the eye. Race, ethnicity, and where you grow up are a huge part of it, and gender and religion also play a role. To me, embracing my own cultural identity means staying true to my values and bringing my authentic self every day.

My heritage is that of multiple generations of immigrants: with Indonesian Chinese parents, growing up in British-governed Hong Kong, and being in the Chinese majority with a culture that has strong Western influence. I embrace my Chinese heritage with my training in Chinese martial arts, having been a kung fu practitioner for two decades, and occasionally performing with my pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument. I celebrate by sharing aspects of my heritage with others, like when I perform martial arts or Chinese music.

Advocating for the Asian community

My most memorable experience as a member of AAN was when I got to interview Kristi Yamaguchi during last year’s Asian Heritage Month keynote. Having watched Kristi compete as an Olympian, the opportunity to interact with her and get her insights was phenomenal. She has inspired so many Asian Americans, and I felt the spark she created — even in a virtual event — with her presence and her candid interactions with our employees.

Having the platform to advocate for the Asian community by learning what’s top of the mind and important to the Asian community within Autodesk, the opportunity to uplift each other, and hearing all the different voices within the community.

I encourage any Autodesker who is interested in joining AAN to come lend your voice and add to the depth of this amazing and diverse community. We have a board of volunteers who are passionate about advocating for our community, and we are eager to partner with everyone to create allyship and uplift each other.

Learn more about Autodesk’s employee resource groups here.

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AAN ERG Diversity