Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration
By Clayton Cox, OFO, and the Civil Rights Staff, OA
Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of AA and NHPI. This year’s theme is Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration, which focuses on paying tribute to the generations of AA and NHPI communities who have shaped our nation's history — and who were also shaped by it.
One individual within the AA and NHPI community who has truly embraced the idea of collaboration is Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom. He came to the United States from China and, in 1997, landed his first job in Silicon Valley as one of the first software engineers at the then young company WebEx. In 2006, he completed a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford Business School. Soon after, he became vice president of engineering, at WebEx. After 14 years with WebEx, Yuan ventured out on his own to establish a competitor business, Zoom, formally known as SaaSbee. Yuan leveraged the expertise of his previous colleagues former WebEx CEO Subrah Iyar and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang to raise the funds for Zoom’s start-up costs. He diligently pursued his career in a challenging field, cultivated professional relationships and, as a result, Zoom has blossomed into a global success.
Today, the use of Zoom has grown by leaps and bounds. Although initially developed as a business platform, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom quickly established itself as “the pandemic’s social network,” according to Bloomberg.com. While the coronavirus kept many people quarantining and sheltering in place, Zoom emerged as one of the leading tools to keep businesses running, students learning and people connected through virtual parties, happy hours, exercise classes and other social activities. One of Eric Yuan’s 13 Leadership Lessons is to “always do what is right.” According to Yuan, doing what is right will always transcend business. To underscore this point, during the pandemic, Zoom provided K-12 schools with free video conferencing to assist in meeting children’s educational needs. Similarly, on the holidays, it did away with the 40-minute time limit on free accounts to allow families to spend time together virtually during the holidays.
Yuan is one of many Asian American trail blazers whose contributions have played an integral role in helping to shape not just America, but the world. This is not only significant to AA and NHPI Heritage Month because Yuan is Asian American, but it is also fitting with the theme since the core mission of Zoom is to improve and enhance collaboration among diverse communities. Yuan’s perseverance is an inspiration and a reminder to all of us as FSIS employees to continue to strive and work towards achieving the agency’s mission to protect public health by ensuring the safety of the Nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products.
Each May we recognize the contributions AA and NHPI have made and will continue to make for all people. On May 17, 1 p.m. ET, the FSIS Civil Rights Staff will host the AA and NHPI Special Emphasis Program Heritage Month observance. The event will feature Dr. Julie Park, Director, Asian American Studies Program Associate Professor at University of Maryland. Join the observance event via WebEx or dial 1-888-251-2949 or (215) 861-0694 and use access code 9183928#. The event will be recorded, and Food for Thought will provide a link to the recording when available.
Consumer Safety Inspector Clayton Cox, OFO, is assigned to the Kent circuit in Washington state.