How has your background influenced your career and life?
In terms of my background, I am proud to be Chinese American, I am proud of all that my family has accomplished, and am proud of how diversity has really been such an important part of all aspects of my life.
I am really proud to be Chinese American. Having grown up in New York City’s Chinatown and having lived and worked in China, I am bi-lingual and bi-cultural – which I really consider to be among the greatest gifts I have received in my life. I feel that being bi-cultural and bi-lingual has enriched me as a person and a professional. Particularly as I am writing a dual-perspective autobiography with my mother, I just find that flowing so easily between both cultures and languages has really made me appreciate so much how my mom has raised me and who she’s raised me to become. And I really embrace being Chinese American and am so proud of my children that they do as well.
I am proud of all that my family has accomplished despite the great adversity we faced, particularly after my father died when I was three. My mom raised four of us – Mindy, John, Jeannie and me – on a social worker’s salary. And on top of that, she devoted her life to the community. Yet she, my Yen Yen, family and community always gave us that steadfast support that we needed to flourish and to achieve the “American dream” for which my parents came to the US.
I am proud of how diversity has enriched so many aspects of my life. In my professional career, I have had so many allies of different backgrounds – not just Asians. In fact, my first career break was the result of an African American man giving me the opportunity to move from the reception desk to a real office when I actually had the chance to present to Lou Gerstner.
In my personal life, I feel I have truly grown a lot as a person, from being married to someone who is not Chinese and who is so different from me in many ways. In fact, my husband transformed me from a person who grew up afraid of water to an advanced scuba diver who now night dives and drift dives with sharks and around wrecks.
In short, I embrace my identity, my ID – my background and who I have become. I am proud to be Chinese American, I am proud of all that my family has accomplished, and I am proud of how diversity has enriched so many aspects of my life.
Who is Betty Ng?
So who is Betty Ng? Well, like my mom, I am a person who really feels passionately about helping others to succeed. I'm a person with vision, who really thrives on turning that vision into reality and executing - not just talking about ideas. I'm a person who really is a trailblazer.
I’m a person who has really benefited from a lot of other people helping me. Starting from the educational opportunities that I've had in my lifetime that have resulted from the support of my family, my friends, and even my colleagues. I went to great schools here in New York City, went to Stanford undergrad where I got my BA in economics with a focus on international relations, received an MBA from Harvard University, and also received an advanced leadership certification from the Stanford Business School.
All of these opportunities that have really been the result of other people helping me, have positioned me very well for the career success that I’ve had, and even with my career success I believe that that has been attributed to others helping me as well. And so as a result of knowing that others have helped me I really am committed to helping others and so when I graduated from Harvard Business School I received a fellowship from the business school to help the Chinese American Planning Council develop its youth employment program.
And fast forward to when I started working at Moody’s, that is the reason why - the passion to help others - is the reason why I also started an Asian leadership initiative within Moody’s, as well as co-chair the women's employee resource group. And this has been on top of my day job.
And it's because of that real passion to help others that I've been able to be a corporate trailblazer and last year, actually in 2015, I was awarded as a Corporate Trailblazer for the impact that I've had in the diversity and inclusion space as well as my success in my day job.
In terms of my work experience, I started my career with Arthur Andersen in the San Francisco office and I became a CPA. And after three years of being in San Francisco, I requested a transfer to the Beijing office and I lived in Beijing for three years, which was really one of the most life-changing events for me in terms of growing as an individual.
After graduating from business school and also starting the youth employment program, I worked for American Express doing product level strategy and the teams that I worked with were primarily based in Europe and in Latin America. When I worked at Citigroup doing mergers and acquisitions, I spent quite a bit of my time -actually about half of my time - in Asia and even most recently with Moody's I lead and I executed deals that were in Asia Europe, Latin America, Canada, as well as the US
And so I've always loved to work in culturally diverse environments because I really believe all those experiences have really enriched me and helped me to become the person that I am today.
So I took a career assessment in June of 2016 and interestingly, that assessment told me that I should be doing something entrepreneurial, something related to talent management, related to strategy, and to building a business, and at that time, Inspiring Diversity wasn't even a twinkle in my eye but clearly based on the assessment… it’s Inspiring Diversity and being the founder and CEO is what I'm meant to be.
What is Inspiring Diversity (iD)?
Inspiring Diversity is an online community that really focuses on helping individuals and organizations that care about diversity inclusion. And so for individuals it's really about inspiring, empowering and elevating each other to achieve career goals. For organizations, it's about helping organizations to build their diverse and inclusive communities.
Where did the idea for iD come from?
So the idea Inspiring Diversity first came from really wanting to share my mother and my life stories. So about a year ago I received an award for being a corporate trailblazer and during the time that I prepared my acceptance speech I really thought a lot about who I am and how I got to where I am today and really all roads lead back to my mom. And I developed framework based on my mother’s name, which is Po-Ling. I realized that every letter of her name represents an important principle for success and impact however you personally define it.
‘P’ for priorities - persevering for your priorities and passions; ‘O’ for others - helping others to succeed; ‘L’ for leading - really driving change and action where needed as opposed to waiting for others to do something; ‘I’ is inspire – really exuding that confidence and conviction for what you believe in, and inspiring others follow you to make things happen; ‘N’ is for network – really building and establishing relationships to make things happen; and ‘G’ for growth – always embracing change, adversity, diversity and failure, and pushing yourself to be the best you can be.
And so when I realized that her name represented this amazing framework I just felt that it was really important to share this with the world, and I am in process of writing a deal perspective autobiography with my mother and really believe that that's just a starting point because my mom and I are really only two individuals of many of very diverse backgrounds who have inspiring stories to share.
And so the idea for the Inspiring Diversity more broadly came from wanting to create that central hub for inspiring stories of people of all backgrounds that can really educate people about people from different groups, of different ethnicities and backgrounds, and really challenge perceptions and stereotypes that exist.
And so I really didn't want Inspiring Diversity to be just purely about inspiring because while inspiring is really critical, I believe it's really just the first step for really driving impact. And you want to inspire but you don't want that inspiration to just fall flat right? You want that to be channeled – channeled in a way that's truly productive and actionable. So that's why Inspiring Diversity’s mission is really centered around inspiring, empowering, and elevating each other to achieve career goals – and it doesn't just stop at inspiring.
And it's really about working with individuals as well as organizations because I also feel that if you really want to impact change, you can't just focus on individuals in isolation, nor can you really focus on organizations in isolation. You really have to think about both the individuals and organizations and tackling related pain points.
Who do you want to engage?
I wish to engage both individuals as well as organizations. So in terms of individuals, really experienced, as well as younger talent that is really vested in the diversity discussion. So individuals who really want to inspire as well as those who want to be inspired. And on top of that I want to engage individuals who want to do something with that inspiration.
Those who want to be empowered with tools and resources that can help them to succeed, as well as those who want to empower others through high-impact and low time commitment ways. And I also want to engage individuals who are seeking to be more visible – to get those opportunities to achieve their goals.
I'm also looking to engage organizations and by organizations it's not just corporations. . It’s also academic institutions, as well as nonprofits and in terms of engaging companies I really want to focus on companies that are really looking to build diverse and inclusive communities.
And organizations that really want to streamline the processes to find those diverse employees that they're looking for. It's really interesting because I feel as though I know so many individuals – really talented individuals of all backgrounds – many of whom are looking for opportunities at this point, but yet so many of them are having extreme difficulty finding those opportunities.
And on the other hand. I hear of organizations that say that they are having difficulty finding great talent - so what's a disconnect there? And it doesn't really seem to make sense, but clearly what's missing is an effective portal – a way to match these individuals with the organizations and to help the organizations streamline their processes in terms of recruiting. So one of the things that I really want Inspiring Diversity to be able to tackle is a very significant pain point for organizations, which really is to serve as a proxy for a first round interviews. To help organizations streamline their recruiting process in terms of finding great talent. So the inspirational stories and profiles that Inspiring Diversity will provide, really provide that deeper level of insight into an individual, including the inspiring stories where people will really demonstrate how they stand above the rest and what differentiates them in terms of their personal stories.
In terms of great advice that I’ve gotten from others – I’ve gotten so much great advice over my life. But I would say that there are two things my mentors have told me that resonate with me the most.
And one is that, “You don’t build a bridge the day you need it.” And that’s with respect to relationships. Right? So I know a lot of people talk about ‘networking’, but it’s really about building relationships. And you don’t build those relationships the day you need them.
The other piece of advice that really resonated with me was that, “Just because it doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t.” So, for example, Inspiring Diversity – I haven’t found that hub that serves as a central portal for inspirational stories that really effectively tackles inspiring, empowering, and elevating individuals to achieve their career goals while helping organizations.
But just because it doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it shouldn’t, and it’s really incumbent on us as individuals to develop those visions and really go for it.
And in terms of advice that I’ve provided to others, I actually have a number of mentees - relationships that have developed organically. And I’ve provided advice. But for me, it’s really not about telling, but rather about showing. And just purely coincidentally last night, I received an email from an ex-colleague of mine.
I had been the founder and co-chair of the Asian Leadership Initiative at Moody’s and one of my ex-colleagues is now the new co-chair of the Asian Leadership Initiative. And if I may, I’d love to read to you what she wrote to me:
“I wanted to tell you that I’ve become a co-chair to ALI. Your shoes are too big to be filled by anybody though. But I’m so grateful for the time I got to watch you be an inspiration and leader for all Asian Pacific Americans. You had a great way of including everyone and brainstorming, but so graciously turning down bad ideas. You are missed.”
And so for me, it’s really about showing, not just telling.
What is ‘Diversity’?
Diversity is bringing together people of different backgrounds with different perspectives to really create a community that is innovative, thoughtful, and high performing.
What is the ‘Takeaway’?
I want visitors to take away from the site, the fulfillment that comes from helping others to succeed. And the fulfillment that comes from living by the P.O.L.I.N.G.® principles. I want people to come away from the site challenging their own perceptions and stereotypes. I want people to come away from the site feeling inspired that anything is possible regardless of your background. And I want people to feel inspired and empowered knowing that there is a community out there that really wants to help them succeed.
I hope people will share their passion for helping others to succeed. I want people to share their stories. Stories that can really help others think about their own paths and how those stories might actually apply to their lives and really give individuals the inspiration.
What is P.O.L.I.N.G.® and STAR?
P.O.L.I.N.G.® and STAR are two different frameworks that Inspiring Diversity will be leveraging. P.O.L.I.N.G.® is the framework that I developed based on my mother's name, which really illustrates six different principles for success and impact.
‘P’ for persevering for your priorities and passions; ‘O’ for others, helping others to succeed; ‘L’ for leading; ‘I’ for inspiring; ‘N’ for networking; and ‘G’ for growth.
STAR on the other hand is a framework that many companies use when they do behavioral interviews. Often times when a candidate is interviewed, the interviewer will ask, “Tell me about a time when you led or inspired, or perhaps one of the other principles of the P.O.L.I.N.G.® framework.”
“Tell me about the Situation, the Task, the Action and Result”. And structuring stories that satisfy what an interviewer would normally ask during an interview process really therefore helps to streamline the process - the recruitment process -for companies as they are looking for individuals – talent – of diverse backgrounds.
And so in addition to serving pain points for corporations, by structuring stories using both the P.O.L.I.N.G.® and STAR frameworks really provides guidance to individuals who are contributing their stories. It gives people a starting point to really be thinking about their own stories and how to effectively communicate and summarize what those stories are.
And for individuals who are receiving the stories, it really helps individuals start to think about their own stories and what great frameworks both of these two represent and how they may apply to their own lives.
Purpose of Stories
The point of providing inspirational stories is really to satisfy pain points experienced by three different audiences. So those who are looking to contribute their stories, those who want to be inspired, as well as organizations that are looking for talent.
What’s in store for the future?
In terms of what's in store for Inspiring Diversity – well, my video I believe is on our initial website, which is really an initial website that talks to the mission of Inspiring Diversity, what's in store for the future, how we intend to achieve our goals. And after the initial site is up, we’ll be doing a Kickstarter round – raising funding – to build out the second iteration of our site. And during that time I’ll also be speaking with more organizations and individuals to better understand the best functionality and content that the Inspiring Diversity site should offer.
And so the objective really is to, by mid-2017, have our second iteration of our site up and running, that does provide that additional functionality and content. And in addition to that, by mid 2017, I hope to publish the dual perspective autobiography with my mother. And certainly in the interim would love to continue to engage the Inspiring Diversity community that is interested in being involved in helping each other to succeed.