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Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with Ascend Canada


Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with Ascend Canada

Last week, we welcomed Ascend Canada members Ashish Shah, Kathleen Butterfield, and Margarita de Guzman to the Level5 offices for a Lunch and Learn to celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Ashish, Kathleen, and Level5 Managing Partner Hua Yu reflected on their experiences and career progression in the context of their Asian Heritage throughout a panel discussion, moderated by Level5 Consultant Michael Luu.

As a gold sponsor of Ascend Canada, Level5 fully supports Ascend’s vision of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive Canada where Pan-Asian talent may achieve their full potential.

In honour of Asian Heritage Month, we’d like to share some of their candid thoughts and perspectives from the discussion.

On navigating identities…

“I was different from other kids in school. It was never a gap that was insurmountable, but navigating differences as a kid is something you learn to do. Growing up, when I was looking to fit in, I was trained to look for the bridge. No matter who you are – always look for the bridge.” – Kathleen

“I grew up in a Chinese community. My dad was born in Kenya and my mom Mumbai. This concoction resulted in me being able to relate to people better. I try to draw on different experiences to make connections.” – Ashish

“In my opinion, our multiple identities are valuable assets to our careers and enable us to perceive the world from a broader perspective. They also provide us with opportunities to pursue interests that are closer to our cultural roots outside of our professional job. This is the primary reason behind my creation of the “Turn Lemon Into Lemonade” Chinese language podcast. Our cultural roots and professional career can coexist seamlessly.” – Hua

On career impacts…

“Growing up, stability and safe choices were etched into my mindset. Mentors and members from Ascend helped me unlearn this mindset to take career risks, which led to my development and advancement.” – Ashish

“I immigrated from China to the US and then Canada. It has been a great adventure filled with wonderful opportunities for growth and learning. I firmly believe that every opportunity that comes our way should be seized with the best reflection of ourselves. Even if someone offers you just five minutes of their time, it is crucial to make a lasting impression and make the most of those moments..” – Hua

On mentorship, leadership, and development support organizations can provide to employees with diverse cultural backgrounds…

“I was taught to never talk about accomplishments; it is considered rude. Through mentorship and the Ascend Leadership program, I was introduced to cultural behaviours that impact perception. There are so many people doing great things – on your career journey, it is important to share your successes in a way that is comfortable and authentic.” – Kathleen

“Unconscious bias training past just HR teams is important. This training needs to occur for people in positions of power, those in charge of promotions, for example. I’ve even seen bias challengers in performance review meetings to rid unconscious bias.” – Ashish



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