AAPI Heritage Month: Meet inspiring voices from our company

Listen and learn from our coworkers’ life stories

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we're sitting down with 3 members of the Bazaarvoice team (Bazaarvoice is the parent company of Influenster) to celebrate the strength in diversity, and the power of representation, vision, and celebration. 

Get to know Ria Dhillon, our Global Learning and Development Coordinator, Zarina Stanford, our Chief Marketing Officer, and Jenni Tai, one of our Brand Strategists.

 

 

Tell us about yourself and your role at BV.

RD: My name Is Ria Dhillon, and I've been at Bazaarvoice for nearly three years. I'm the learning and development coordinator and manage new hire orientation globally and other Learning and Development initiatives. I am also part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) task force and helping Bazaarvoice on this specific journey.

ZS: My name is Zarina Lam Stanford and I am a proud member of the Bazaarvoice family, serving as CMO and a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. As a little girl growing up in Hong Kong, I would not have imagined how far my personal and professional growth would have taken me, spanning years living in Asia and the US, and amazing companies like IBM, SAP, and Bazaarvoice. I currently live in Austin where Bazaarvoice is headquartered and frequent New York, where my two sons live.  

JT: Hi! My name is Jenni Tai. I work on Bazaarvoice’s talented Brand Strategy team. When I’m not putting together creative solutions that (hopefully) delight our clients, I enjoy eating and exploring my way through NYC, where I’m based. 

 

What was your upbringing like? How has your upbringing—and Asian identity—influenced you personally and professionally?

RD: I was born and raised in West London, a predominantly South Asian and African community. 

My parents immigrated to the UK in the 90s and tried to hold onto their Indian roots and instill them in our family's way of life. This was challenging, as the world outside was about being "British." It was like being caught between the two identities, and it was hard to fit into either one! I was neither Indian enough or British enough.

Their hard work and determination passed on to me in my professional life, where I give 100% to anything I do, as I witnessed my parents struggling to make ends meet and fit into British society. However, unlike before, when I found it tough to fit into either side, I now embrace both sides of my identity. For example, in my first couple of months at BV, I bought Diwali sweets to the London office to celebrate the festival. Or I was able to wear a kurti (a loose collarless shirt worn in many regions of South Asia) to work!

 

ZS: I grew up in public housing in Hong Kong with my Mom and four other siblings. While we may have had less financially, we were and continue to be a vibrant family pampered with love and care. That was the bedrock of my upbringing. 

When I first came to the US for college, I quickly realized I didn't fit in with the crowd—looks, background, and upbringing. Over the years, I learned to navigate a world where I took pride in being different inside and out. While at IBM, I had the fortune to attend a special leadership development program for Asian Pacifics, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), which changed my life. The program taught us—Asian Pacifics—to be proud of our heritage, be ourselves, and be aware of how our heritage has indeed shaped who we are and who we can be. I am forever grateful to LEAP and the Class of 2001—leaders from amazing companies that shared stories, and exchanged ideas, so we could grow together.

So, did my upbringing influence me personally and professionally? 1,000%. Was upbringing the only element for my personal and professional growth? I'd say 50%. The remainder comes from experience, personal decisions, those we spend time with (personally and professionally) and last but not least, ourselves.

 

JT: I spent my early childhood in the Michigan suburbs and It was very apparent that I was “different.” I spoke Mandarin at home, my classmates called my food “smelly” or “gross,” and I had the multiplication table memorized before it was taught in school, thanks to my Tiger Dad (for reference). 

Through the years, I became more self-conscious and embarrassed about being Asian. I’d prioritize whitewashing myself over doing well in school. I moved to Taiwan for middle and high school, then Pennsylvania for college. Being around people like me or who were more open-minded enough to accept me helped shift my mindset. 

Today, I proudly embrace my Taiwanese-American heritage and I have to thank my upbringing for fueling a big chunk of my desire to foster an inclusive community—personally and professionally.

 

What are some things that are bringing you joy right now?

RD: At Bazaarvoice, diversity, equity, and inclusion—especially the Asian and Allies group brings me joy! I love connecting with a group of people just like me, where we can relate to each other's upbringing, struggles, and joys! I have built relationships through this ERG that I know will carry past my time here at the company. 

I would also say it is me learning about my culture and embracing it proudly. When I was a kid, I didn't think it was cool to be me because whenever I looked at the TV or other mainstream channels, there wasn't any Asian representation. I now realize how proud I should feel to be part of such a diverse, beautiful, strong culture. I am proud to be Asian and to represent our group every day. And to let everybody else know, your culture and background are superpowers!

 

Bazaarvoice is all about social commerce—the intersection of social media platforms and a shoppable storefront. Tell us about some of your favorite Asian-owned businesses to support this month and every month!

JT: I have too many favorites! Here are a few… 

Mama Teav’s: If you love spice, you MUST try their Hot Garlic sauce.

Chunks: This is the first brand I’ve come across trying to change the narrative of “Made in China.” All of their products are high quality and ethically made. 

Nguyen Coffee Supply: Another brand that’s trying to change the narrative! 

Malai: You can’t go wrong with their ice cream flavors! 

KraveBeauty: Founded by a skincare YouTuber. I trust her skincare advice the most.  

Emme: Asian-inspired candle scents! 

Asian American Girl Club: They’re creating visibility for Asian-Americans through (very cute) clothing! 

I discovered all these brands through friend recommendations and Instagram—this confirms the Bazaarvoice mantra!

 

When you tell your personal history, what do you hope others will take away from your experiences?

ZS: I am a believer in growth and positivity. I am an eternal learner. An apprentice. I hope that readers are encouraged and excited about the future of one’s personal and professional growth. Regardless of your heritage, upbringing, and affinity, be proud and be inclusive. The world is yours to shape and to behold. Let’s do this.