Over the past twelve months, the rise in anti-Asian hate and xenophobia, combined with a global pandemic have made this 2021 AAPI Heritage Month more important than ever. In celebration and recognition of AAPI Heritage Month, the staff of Committee of 100 sat down with some of our Next Generation Leaders and asked them about their careers, what the past year has been like as a Chinese American and their hopes for the future.
Committee of 100’s Next Generation Leaders program focuses on young leaders who are passionate about the organization’s mission to promote the full inclusion of Chinese Americans across society and advance the betterment of U.S.-China relations. The program was first established in 2015. This week, we spoke with Vivian Fan, who is Co-Founder and CEO of GoingFlex.
Committee of 100: As a Chinese American, what are some of the challenges you have encountered to become a leader in your respective field?
Vivian: One of the biggest challenges for me is the lack of Chinese American leadership examples and mentors that I could look up to. In the places that I worked in my corporate career, there were no Chinese Americans at the executive level.
Committee of 100: Earlier this year, Committee of 100 released a study, commissioned with the Economist Intelligence Unit, that looked at 175 years of Chinese American contributions to the United States. What was one conclusion you drew from the study?
Vivian: That Asian Americans have contributed significantly for 175 years to the US, but their achievement is often muted and not made well known to the general public.
Committee of 100: What do you believe needs to be done so that more Chinese Americans feel empowered to follow their dreams and push forward to create the programs/businesses/position they want?
Vivian: I believe organizations such as Committee of 100 can help to empower Chinese Americans in a few ways: 1) work with the US educational system to include additional Asian Heritage related teaching materials to promote Asian and Chinese cultures, achievements, and leadership examples; 2) create leadership focused scholarships to encourage and award Chinese students to pursue and demonstrate leadership abilities; 3) organize webinars and Q&A sessions with the support of successful Chinese leaders in the business/government sectors to share their experiences, unique challenges, and solutions; 4) create targeted startup funds to encourage and support Chinese entrepreneurs, especially in underserved regions to pursue their dreams; and 5) work with public media to continuously promote Chinese Americans that highlights their contributions to the society, their achievements, and their challenges.
Committee of 100: In light of all that has happened over the past year related to Covid and the rise in anti-Asian hate, does this specific year of AAPI Heritage Month have more of a special meaning for you?
Vivian: For me, it is the renewed realization that Asian Americans have come a long way in the US, but there are still so much need to be done to fight for our equality and fairness and we can only do so by uniting and making our voices heard.
Committee of 100: What moment or learning experience inspired you to work in your professional field?
Vivian: Currently, I am the Co-Founder/CEO of GoingFlex, the flexible work and hiring platform. I chose this field because I truly believe the future of work and hiring is flexibility. As long as professionals have skills, they should be able to choose where, when, and how they work in a flexible manner. Companies will also benefit from leveraging a more flexible talent strategy that include both permanent and “cloud-based” workforce.
Committee of 100: For those Chinese Americans and AAPIs who are getting ready to graduate college here in the month of May and June, what advice would you give to them?
Vivian: Be proud and confident about your identity and culture and only demand the best opportunity in work and life because you deserve it!