NAAAP Leads in Leadership Development

Posted by Alden E. Habacon & filed under Leadership.


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Between August 8 to 10, Toronto will host the 31st Annual International Convention for NAAAP, the National Association of Asian American Professionals (US) and the North American Association of Asian Professionals (Canada).

The NAAAP International Convention, Career Fair & Diversity Expo is the preeminent opportunity for Asian Americana and Asian Canadian professionals to come together for inspiration, professional development and building of community.

NAAAP has been a part of my life and professional trajectory for almost a decade. In fact, when Schema was formed as an idea, I always imagined NAAAP members as our readers — for Schema to reflect their perspectives and identities, which were, for the most part, completely absent from mainstream media.

The reflection of Asian Americans and Asian Canadians in mainstream media has marginally improved and remains an on-going challenge. However, what has become glaringly clear and almost impossible to ignore is the under-representation of Asian Americans/Canadians in the decision-making positions throughout corporate America and all sectors of Canada. In other words, they often appear to be missing from what we often refer to as “leadership.”

In May of 2012, Wesley Yang wrote an article in New York Magazine, called “Paper Tigers” that explained the situation with the most clarity. Despite Asian Americans’ success at competing for (and being proportionately over-represented in) the top spots in the hardest-to-get-into universities, these over-achieving students and graduates were not making it into leadership roles throughout the private and public sector. Yang went on to provide some strong ideas as to why this was happening.

In my years as a diversity and inclusion specialist, I have heard many hiring managers ask, “Can’t we just hire the best?”, as we would discuss their recruitment and advancement plans. I wish that were true.

No organisation in Canada and the US is working harder to tackle these real and perceived barriers to the career advancement for Asian Americans and Asian Canadians, across sectors and industries, than NAAAP. By facilitating opportunities for personal growth, professional development, mentorship and network building, NAAAP has helped countless professionals overcome personal hangups and racially-biased business practices. Most importantly, NAAAP has helped young and emerging professionals feel more comfortable in their own skin, showcasing those who have broken past the bamboo ceiling.

All of this great stuff will be culminating at the NAAAP National Convention in Toronto.

As a lead up to the conference, Schema is publishing a series of profiles of the speakers and presenters.


Friday Keynote Speaker The Right Honourable Michael Chong, Friday Emcee Marjorie Chan and Saturday Keynote Speaker Teja Arboleda

We hope to present their personalities, perspectives and complex identities, all of which is very Schema. Most importantly, we’ve also asked them for career advice and tips on how to get the most out of the conference.

As many of us take in all that the conference has to offer, we hope you feel the growth in the larger pan-Asian Canadian and pan-Asian American business community; a shift towards a community of professionals that is not only more competitive in the workforce, but also more nurturing and fully maximized.


WHAT: NAAAP International Convention, Career Fair & Diversity Expo
WHEN: August 8-10, 2013
WHERE: Sheraton Centre, Toronto ON


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