Careers in Multiculturalism

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Apoorva Gandhi, VP, Multicultural Affairs, Marriott International: This sounds like so much fun, this multicultural role.

Do you have any guidance for our listeners who are thinking, “That might be something I would be interested in for the future?”

If someone has an interest in a similar role in multicultural affairs, what guidance might you have?



Apoorva Gandhi

Careers in Multiculturalism: Apoorva Gandhi’s Journey

Before that, I’ll tell you a funny story. I’m a strategy consultant by trade. I’ve done a lot of different things at Accenture and Marriott that were not related to this kind of work.

When I took this role in Multicultural Affairs, my wife said, “Apoorva, what kind of job is this? It sounds very exotic, like you’re going to travel the world and have multicultural affairs.”

I teased her. I said, “Don’t worry. That’s just what they call it. You know honey, if it was 20 years ago and we were still single, it might be another story.”

I got very lucky. I had always done what I would call “diversity work” as an extracurricular activity.


Careers in Multiculturalism: Fate

I had a day job doing strict strategy consulting. My night job was putting together diversity mentoring programs at Accenture and serving on different committees at Marriott to really ensure that where I was working had respect, dignity and inclusion for everyone, whether you worked for us, were a supplier for us or came to stay as a guest in our hotels. I did it as an extracurricular.


Careers in Multiculturalism Require Passion

I was recommended for this role. You really need to have a passion for it. At times, it sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is.

It’s a great job. It’s a lot of fun. There are some days where you feel you continually have to keep on selling the value of this work.

You have to keep convincing folks that the demographics of the country are changing. The source markets for our business around the globe are different now.


Careers in Multiculturalism: Changing Demographics

You have the Indian middle class, which is 400 million people who now have money and want to travel places. That’s bigger than the whole United States. There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to get that.

They still believe that we’re back in the 50s and, if we continue to focus on the Boomers and over 50 male Caucasian business person, then everything will be just fine.

The reality is that the demographics are changing. A lot of my job is helping people understand that things are changing in big ways. All you have to do is show the census.

You can see the growth of that. There are Asians and LGBT markets. It’s really about being able to quantify the business value of that. Stick to your guns.


How To Start Careers in Multiculturalism

Your question was, “How does one get into this work?” I don’t think you can say, “Yes, I like diversity. It sounds really cool.” It’s not really like that.

You have to understand a bit of the science behind it. You need to understand that there are a lot of different ways to speak about diversity. A lot of folks say, “Isn’t this just about finding out how we’re all the same? We should all get along. It’s nice to be nice. Isn’t that cute.” Really, it’s not like that.

It’s about finding out how we’re different and figuring out how to celebrate those differences and use it to get business results. In the boardroom, talking about diversity can be very hard.


Careers in Multiculturalism: Money and Science

It’s about drawing that link to dollars and cents. If you can’t do that then it’s not really a good role for you.

In business today, everything has to show value immediately or very quickly. It’s not as easy as you might think.

As much as the country progresses, we evolve and make changes, it’s still an uphill battle in many ways.


Careers in Multiculturalism: Boardrooms of America

If you look at the boardrooms of America, the number of Asian entrepreneurs and CEOs compared to board level appointments, the numbers are off.

We should have so many more Asians in corporate boards. We should have so many more Asian Indians in corporate boards. We are the most successful demographic in the United States. Everyone should know that. People listening to this should have their facts ready.

There is no question that Asian Indians are the most successful demographic. The average per capita income is about $86,000 a year, which is much higher than any other demographic in the United States.


Careers in Multiculturalism: Educate

You sometimes have to school people on the facts. It’s a lot of continual education. It’s education of people who may not want to hear it. That can wear you out.

It’s not for the meek-hearted. It’s not for the shy. It’s not for the “can we all just get along” people. It’s really about the science of diversity.


Tell Us:

Do careers in multiculturalism interest you? Tell us why down below in the comments section!


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Apoorva Gandhi

The entire interview transcript is at: Apoorva Gandhi NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – The Intersection of Indian Culture and Hospitality Industry

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP