Throughout the month of May, the Tuck and Dartmouth communities will offer a number of events and programs to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. AAPIHM 2022’s theme, Constellations, explores the ways in which each member of the AAPI community creates connections with each other and with other marginalized communities. Each constellation represents the solidarities formed across time and space, symbolizing transnational and transcultural strength.
In celebration of AAPIHM, we asked members of our AAPI community to reflect on their goals, accomplishments, inspirations, and passions.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Taking a leap of faith to career switch/pivot a few times throughout my career.
What keeps you busy? How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Traveling, cooking, and entertaining pre-pandemic—slowly resuming that now. I’m starting to take up photography and embrace 'weekday' veganism.
Describe an ah-ha moment for you—a defining moment that changed the course of your life, career, or altered your way of thinking.
Applying a self-imposed sabbatical to rest, think, and redesign my life and career really helped me reflect on my choices and face some inherent biases I've held about what it means to be successful, happy, and fulfilled.
Who do you most admire and look up to? Who inspires you and why?
Recently I've become friends with one of the founders of Esusu (one of a handful of unicorn startups led by diverse founders, serving diverse communities), whose passion and vision are only surpassed by his kindness and work ethic. In the business world, it's challenging to define new standards, challenge conventions, and invent new systems to promote fairness and equity. Samir, his co-founder, and his team are going against the grain (in a great way) to create a more equitable future and treatment for all; I am incredibly inspired and motivated by that.
What’s something about you only a few people know?
I aspire to live either bi-coastally or domestically and abroad each year.
Describe a challenge you encountered in your life and/or career, how you were able to overcome it, and what you learned.
A few years ago, I was working as the head of innovation at Vanguard, a firm I respected and admired, doing industry-leading work with amazing teams and partners. It was the best role I've had to date, and I was incredibly fortunate for that experience. But for personal and professional reasons, I wanted to explore what else I could do and made the difficult decision to leave that role in pursuit of something else that I hadn't pinpointed yet. Aside from knowing that was what was right for me, that I needed time and space to think—I wasn't sure of much else.
In the months that followed, I questioned everything from the decision itself to what might come next and worried about my career and finances as we quickly entered into an unexpected pandemic. Those range of emotions, the uneasy waiting period, and the conversations, support, and guidance from my network—all made the subsequent successful launch of Arable Ventures (a boutique corporate innovation strategy and startup advisory firm) that much more appreciated and meaningful.
What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean for you today, and in your words, why is it so critical?
It is the collective, demonstrated culture and values of a company that conveys the importance of all forms of diversity and its role in the success of a company. It's a way of being, of operating, that shows humanity, respect, and appreciation of others for their differences and unique perspectives while embracing those differences to strengthen decisions and improve shared experiences. My view is that DEI is not a convenient or spotlighted program, but rather a must-have, core ingredient to building successful organizations and communities that reflects the broader world around us.
How would you describe your life philosophy? What do you believe are the components of a “good” life? How do you define “success”?
Wow great question, I'm not sure I have a singular life philosophy. I do believe in seasons of my life, and these days, I am in the season of "doing more of what brings me joy," which manifests from my work (the type of clients and work we take on) to my personal life (self-care, fun, social life, and hobbies).
I think the definition of success and "good" evolve and may look different in various parts of your life. Sometimes "good enough" is good. Striving for excellence and giving my all are common threads that I usually live by, but I try to be cognizant of the balance of that with the need for learning, growth, curiosity, and courage to try new things and experience new scenarios and settings. It's this kind of stimulation and blend of producing/delivering with learning/experimenting that has been most effective for my engagement and performance over time.
What is your vision for the future? Or, what do you believe will be the defining issue(s) of the next 20 years?
I am, of course, biased as I'm working on a Future of Work startup as we speak. Nevertheless, I think we're all witnessing a foundational shift in the definition, role, and expectations for “work” in our lives. The trend is steering away from single-company, long-tenured careers to many series of functional, company, and even industry career moves, or someone choosing to work in multiple capacities concurrently (self-employment, part-time, freelancing, etc.), and often from anywhere in the world. Of course, this gives rise to huge opportunities for redesigning solutions and systems across the spectrum including talent strategies, workforce planning, career-pathing, and beyond. Very exciting time to redefine expectations together.
In your opinion, what makes a good leader?
Over my career, I have had the good fortune to build, lead, scale, and even wind down teams in emerging and seasoned businesses. From my own lessons and from observing those whose leadership I admire, there is a commonality in someone who is equal parts leader and listener, visionary and supporter of others to act and decide, someone who is honest and humble in self-assessment to lean into existing strengths and activate others to fill in for identified weaknesses. A good leader surrounds herself with people with shared values and different perspectives and creates a safe and trusting environment where people voice their opposing views to pressure test thinking together. The most important job of a good leader is to create the right culture for a team to thrive. It is more important (and difficult) than delivering business results, for that is the positive byproduct of a successful culture.
What have you recently, read, watched, or listened to that you enjoyed and would highly recommend to others?
I'm currently reading Crying in H Mart and will be starting The Fuzzy and the Techie to understand why liberal arts is so helpful to the digital world.
Lisha Davis is an innovation leader, venture builder, startup investor, and business strategist who has served on all sides of the business table. She is the CEO at Arable Ventures and the founder of Pave, which helps people discover the career that fits their passions, work style, and skills. Prior to her work at Arable and Pave, Lisha served as the founder and CEO of Vanguard’s Innovation Studio. Throughout her work, Lisha has led innovation, product, and business teams in vision, strategy, operations, and the creation of powerful tech-enabled solutions, with an emphasis on growing the best functioning teams and company culture. An angel investor and startup advisor, Lisha teaches a course on Open Innovation & Strategic Alliances at Temple University and is a lifelong advocate of diverse founders and funders.
Many Voices, One Tuck celebrates the stories of our vibrant and diverse community. What's your story? Email DEI at Tuck if you'd like to contribute to the MVOT project.
Note: MVOT is open to members of the Tuck community, including students, alumni, faculty, staff, TEE and Tuck Bridge participants, and MHCDS graduates.