Posted by: Competing In A Borderless World | October 29, 2011

Diversity Executive Perspective: Aiming High Across Borders

Moderated by Sandy, who observed in his introductory remarks how during these past few months, as economic reverberations in Europe could be felt across the world, that turbulent times like these call for leaders experienced navigating cross-cultural environments, such as the panelists on today’s diversity panel.

Jose Garcia, a Diversity and Inclusion Leader at BofA, began by explaining that he was a “reformed accountant,” having crossed over into HR from the accounting world four years ago. “As I look at this room,” he said, “thank you for being here, as it’s raining, sleeting. In North Carolina, we’d be home right now! Only New Yorkers can say, ‘It’s only 2 inches of snow!'” He’s been 26 years with the same company; and his own 23-year old works there too, and he is extremely proud of her. “As for ‘aiming high across borders,’ I have worked for the same company 26 years, but that company’s own borders have expanded, with mergers, acquisitions, and is now a very global company with over 300,000 employees worldwide.”

Next up was Olga Kozak, who manages digital innovation at McGraw Hill, and works with its Diversity Inclusion Office. She noted that their approach to diversity has changed, with the  focus more now on diversity of thought. “After many years of focusing on diversity of gender, race, now the focus is on diversity of thought.” Thinking of the panel theme, aiming high across borders, she reflected, ‘Do we have any digital borders left in the digital world?’ Her conclusion: “While those borders may exist on a certain level, I think their characteristics are changing.”

Third up was Karyn Twaronite, who is Partner, America’s Inclusiveness Officer at Ernst & Young. She has been with E&Y for 21 years, and recognized Jeff Chin, her former partner, now retired, and the founding member of Ascend – noting that she was “so proud of what you’ve accomplished.” She added, “I think about how impressive this group is here” and noted, “two things that might make you wonder why I am here – first off, you may have noticed I am not Asian! And, I have not worked globally. But we find it important to have a global mindset, which means working effectively across borders – moving abroad is not a critical aspect of this, as we can work on global teams here in the US, and team virtually, communicate globally, where having respect for the various cultural backgrounds on the teams is critically important.” She noted she is trained as a CPA, and a tax accountant by background – which she did for about ten years, adding, in reference to Garcia’s earlier comment, “I don’t know if I’m recovered yet!”

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