Alok Shah: Mentoring the Next Generation Helps Bridge the DEI Divide
Samsung is continuing to make progress on our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) journey towards driving meaningful change. And we want to spotlight the DEI 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.
Timed to Global Diversity Awareness Month, an annual observance in October that’s dedicated to celebrating the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives that make up our global community, we sat down with Alok Shah, Vice President of Networks Strategy, BD, & Marketing and a member of our DEI Council. Here’s what he had to say about DEI…
1. What does DEI mean to you, both personally and professionally?
I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my life and career to have been given tremendous opportunities to challenge myself and accomplish my goals. It took me some time – perhaps too long – to fully grasp that not everyone enjoys such opportunities, and that the resulting impacts to society and the economy are profound. I feel like we’re at a moment in time where DEI efforts hold greater significance than ever before.
2. What has been your greatest learning or most exciting experience in your career journey as it relates to DEI?
I have discovered a real passion for mentoring, and it’s been a two-way learning experience for me. I often learn as much as I teach. A few years ago, Samsung Electronics America’s (SEA) Next-Gen Leaders employee resource group (ERG) established a group mentoring program for early-career professionals across the organization. I had the privilege of being part of the program. Each session was so enjoyable as we discussed opportunities, tackled challenges, and exchanged ideas on navigating our day-to-day work journeys. Sometimes, I drew from my own experiences to provide guidance and suggest a path forward, while other times, the mentees helped each other. It’s truly gratifying to witness how they have all progressed to achieve even greater heights in their careers. Mentoring the next generation with a strong focus on DEI is a powerful catalyst for positive change within an organization – and society as a whole.
3. How have you seen diversity efforts progress in the workplace during your career?
When I started in the telecom industry, discussions about diversity within our workforce were practically non-existent. There were professional networking groups in large cities that provided a great way to share career development tips and make social connections, but for the most part they operated independently from companies. However, that has really shifted over the last decade. There has been a significant transformation, and it’s been wonderful to see companies investing resources toward fostering inclusive workplaces where everyone can feel welcome.
4. Do you believe that diverse and inclusive teams are the engines of innovation?
Without a doubt. Each of us has a distinct set of life experiences that informs the way we see and think about the world. Innovation flourishes when we initiate ideas and enrich them with a multitude of different perspectives. Without diverse and inclusive teams, these ideas may only advance so far or reach a limited potential. SEA’s products are designed to benefit every American family, and without a diverse workforce, we run the risk of falling short in understanding and meeting their unique needs.
5. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would encourage young Alok to take more career risks and be comfortable being uncomfortable. It can be easy to choose the safe route, but our most significant personal growth occurs when we’re put into situations where we have to learn fast, think fast, and act fast. When I reflect on my past, I realize that some of my biggest regrets stem from instances where I shied away from discomfort. Oh, and I would also tell my younger self not to quit playing the guitar and piano!