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Nick Di Ponzio: What My Grandmother Taught Me About DE&I


Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Three significant words often strung together with the power to shape a stronger company culture and workplace environment for all.

At Samsung, it’s part of our company’s heritage to push boundaries and defy barriers to achieve meaningful progress and power bold innovation. But innovation doesn’t just happen — it is designed by humans for humans. And a critical ingredient is our inclusive culture and diverse workforce. Our company is made up of nearly 270,000 people around the world of different ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, religious beliefs, and abilities. But together, we’re ONE global team united by Samsung’s purpose and values.

Action is another noteworthy word. Samsung is continuing to make progress on our journey towards driving meaningful change. And we want to spotlight the DE&I champions within our organization that have been and continue to be instrumental in enabling us to make an impact and helping to create a rich sense of belonging where everyone can thrive.

We sat down with Nick Di Ponzio – a proud Samsung employee and Vice President of our People Team. Here’s what he had to say about DE&I…


1. What does diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) mean to you, both personally and professionally?

When I think of DE&I, I think about connections with people that enable an elevated level of thought, empathy, and support for one another. It’s about being openminded, and demonstrating a genuine interest to learn, understand, and eventually graduate to an appreciation for that diversity. For me, I love to learn about the things that make each individual unique – their background, culture, values, upbringing, and beyond. Also, finding out what we have in common is just as interesting to me as our differences. Generally, I find that there is a tendency to gravitate to what is common or familiar, but I always look to disrupt that train of thought.

2. Can you share a little about what’s shaped your passion for creating a more equitable workplace?

While growing up, my sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents, who were Italian immigrants. We were practically raised by them. My Grandmother, who passed away several years ago, is without a doubt THE most influential person in my life. Growing up in war-torn Italy, she had to flee her home, make a new life in the mountains, and was tasked with the responsibility of raising her four younger siblings. She would tell me stories about how she would help people fleeing from captivity – many of whom were Black and Jewish; how she would provide food, clothing, and what little else she could spare; and how she would have to send them on their way as quickly as possible without being discovered. Others in her town were not nearly as accommodating. This was quite an experience for my then 14-year-old grandmother.

She then emigrated to Toronto, Canada. There, my Grandmother became an active member of her church. I remember her house serving as a refuge of sorts for new immigrant families, mainly from Asia, to help them get their start as they settled into their new country. We ate a range of diverse cuisines. There was international channels always on the TV. My sister and I had the good fortune of interacting with children from a multitude of backgrounds. And no one even spoke the same language. I think we were the only Italian family to have egg rolls, pasta with meat sauce, and sweet pork buns every Sunday.

As Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” Whether it be at home, in my workplace, or other settings, the tapestry of my upbringing has profoundly shaped me and positively impacted my views on the beauty of diversity.

3. Do you believe that diverse and inclusive teams are the engines of innovation?

Absolutely. I believe there is often more than one way to achieve a bold, innovative solution. When talented people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives work together, they innovate more. Operating in an environment with a sense of respect and trust can help supercharge knowledge sharing and collaboration. That creates a playground for innovation and it’s essential for progress – not to mention the added benefit of learning about and from one another!


Nick Di Ponzio, VP, People Team, Alan Park, former Samsung employee, and Mark Williams, SVP, Customer Care

4. What’s one simple way your fellow colleagues can turn allyship into action?

Allies play an important role in fostering an environment of inclusion, belonging, and equity. I sometimes feel that people who want to be allies are hesitant to help because they think they are an outsider – meaning that they’re not fully versed in the challenges others face and could potentially do more harm than good. But it’s key to remember that diverse input expedites progress. So, don’t be afraid to contribute, be confident in what you have to offer, and support one another in doing so. You’d be surprised at just how much we can achieve together.

5. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry. One day, you will be blessed to marry the most beautiful person and have a family of your own – even if you are the smallest kid in the class for 9 consecutive years!

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