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Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: Hannah Chai

This is what our HR Ops Manager, Hannah Chai, has to say about what AAPI Heritage Month means to her.
Hannah Chai
May 6, 2022
3 min

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we're doing a four-part series highlighting the experiences and sentiments of some of our employees at Notarize. Stay tuned for the remainder of the series being published throughout May.

Hannah Chai, HR Ops Manager

I started my career working in the hospitality industry — restaurants, conferences and events, and hotels and resorts. I worked my way up to be a Director of Services for Marriott and realized it wasn’t the best fit. I loved helping and working with people, but I wanted to shift my focus to more internal clients from external clients. That’s when I made the jump and took an employee-facing role in the tech industry.

To be honest, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as the ”tech industry.” I was looking for HR roles in the hotel industry when I came across an office manager position at a local tech company. It had a lot of aspects of human resources, mainly in employee experience, so I took a leap of faith and found it was the right fit for me.

Tech has definitely made some shifts since I first joined the industry. Like most members of the BIPOC community I was often the only Asian representation on my team or at times the whole organization, with even less representation within the leadership team. It’s exciting to see that this is evolving. More companies are working on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies, but tech still has a long way to go. At Notarize, we know DEI is a journey and not a destination. It’s refreshing to see members of all levels (including the C-suite) actively participate, attend and engage in meaningful conversations around diversity and inclusion.

I’m grateful to have a group of amazing HR leaders in my corner, who encourage, guide, and value me on a regular basis. I’d like to give mention to Catherine Galeza, the very first Asian woman in a leadership position that I had the privilege of working with. Representation matters, and she set the bar high for me. As one of the hardest working leaders I know, she made time, valued employee experience and truly looked out for everyone. She’s transparent, leads by example and has taught me to never settle.

What my APAC Heritage and this month means to me

My Korean heritage has heavily influenced the person I am today. For example, there's a big giving culture in Korea. Whether it’s through tangible items or taking time to care for someone, it’s been embedded in me. As I’ve matured, this influence has evolved into me giving my time and support to others.

Having lived apart from my direct family for a while, I strongly miss the “togetherness” of Korean culture, especially when it comes to our connection around food. Whether it’s sitting down to make Kimchi 김치 as a family or eating Rice cake soup 떡국 on New Year’s, it’s something I strive to continue doing with loved ones. I’ve also been working on learning to cook more Korean cuisine (It’s my New Year’s resolution!).

While a lot of the AAPI experiences in the United States are relatable, the community is extremely diverse in itself. There are differences in traditions, languages, beliefs and more, all celebrated in unique ways. Although we are frequently lumped together, I celebrate the differences in all of us.

APAC Heritage Month is a time for me to reflect on my culture, identity and traditions, while honoring and celebrating others in the AAPI community. I continue learning about the historical and present experiences of AAPI folks in the States, and I encourage others to take this opportunity to do the same. In all this celebration, it also reminds me to continue listening and supporting individuals and groups beyond the AAPI community. Together we are stronger and without support from everyone in all communities, we won't reach the change that we are hoping to see.

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Hannah Chai

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