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Asian Heritage Month - Delia Pan shares the importance of being culturally authentic

The theme for Asian Heritage Month 2021, “Recognition, Resilience and Resolve,” perfectly reflect the diverse stories of our Asian community at Rogers, a community that is rooted in resilience and perseverance. This year especially, these words could not be more meaningful as we recognize and celebrate the contributions of the Asian community to Canada’s history, while continuing to fight against anti-Asian racism.

Throughout Asian Heritage Month, we’re going to be highlighting members of the Rogers Pan Asian Network and share how their achievements and contributions have transcended borders and generations, recognizing the vital role they play in the fabric of our company, and our country.

This is the story of Delia Pan, Vice President of Wireless Lifecycle at Rogers.

Delia, as a first-generation immigrant, what led you to immigrate to Canada?

I was born and raised in China and decided to immigrate to Canada to pursue my MBA following graduation. I chose the Ivey Business MBA program at Western University because of its reputation of being one of the top MBA programs in Canada, and because in China there was prestige in earning an overseas MBA and gaining international exposure.

As an international student at Western, I applied for a couple of intern jobs to earn an income while getting some Canadian job experience. I ended up choosing to intern at Rogers because at the time the technology industry was booming, I was – and continue to be – passionate about data, and what was most appealing was that I was able to leverage data to drive marketing decisions.   

You have certainly broken the glass ceiling at Rogers. Tell us about your experience.

I didn’t join Rogers with the intention to become a VP of Wireless. As I was getting close to graduating from Western and thinking about my next steps, I realized that I really enjoyed technology and telecommunications specifically, and really enjoyed living in Canada. I came here as a student, and I joined Rogers with no business network, no Canadian experience, no connections, being new to the country with little understanding of many of the Canadian norms and culture. Many of the executives bonded over golf and baseball, and I didn’t understand sports in general, nor was I very good at small talk. My thoughts back then were that there were many factors working against me in this field, and they were obvious.  I was a woman, I did not have a lot of Canadian experience, and I did not have any sponsors that could give me the career support and direction that I needed. Because of this, I put myself in a box, and I had these negative self-destructing beliefs that I wouldn’t be able to advance much further. Looking back at my early days at Rogers, I realized that the career ceiling I placed on myself was impacting my ability to extend my reach.

As I navigated the Rogers organization, and I saw people progressing in their careers what I realized was that anyone regardless of culture, network, or experiences can be recognized and appreciated. I worked hard just like everyone else, was capable, intelligent, and worthy of advancing in my career without having to assimilate or change who I was in order to conform to what I perceived as Canadian corporate standards. I have also been fortunate to develop relationships with a series of mentors that supported me through my career, and present opportunities to me where I could learn, grow and thrive.

How important is representation to you at Rogers?

I think that it’s important to show representation within our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) at Rogers, but even more so it’s important to see SLT making an impact, are passionate about our business, and driving change. 

It was never my intent to be a minority woman who is breaking barriers at Rogers. I came to this country and to Rogers with the intention to work hard, learn as much as I can, and create value in my work. What I have learned about myself, and why I encourage employees to be culturally authentic is that being an immigrant and having the ability to speak another language is an advantage. One comedian that I love to watch is Trevor Noah. In one of his specials, he acknowledged the advantages of being a foreigner and his words really resonate with me – “In a country where everyone is divided, if you are the person that can speak all the languages, you possess something that no one else has.”