• Americas

Asian/Pacific Heritage Month: An Interview with Susan Au

Susan Au is a Managing Director, Global Occupier Services located in New York, NY.

Q: What is a way you enjoy celebrating your culture at any time of the year?

A: Food is an important aspect of celebrating my culture. In the Cantonese tradition, rice is a versatile input and can be part of an appetizer, a main and/or a dessert. Importantly, you celebrate a Cantonese meal with soup at the start or at the end of the meal, and sometimes even both! As an American, I enjoy many diverse culinary traditions and new ways of thinking about the melting pot both literally and figuratively.

As a New Yorker, nothing is as important as being able to eat or drink what you want, when you want it, regardless of time of day and occasion. The dishes I consider to be my comfort foods are congee (Cantonese), Shepard’s Pie (English/Irish) and arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican).

Q: What are aspects of your background—whether family or culture—that have served as a unique asset to you in your professional success?

A: The desire for harmony and the greater good is reinforced in Chinese culture, and manifests in how one speaks, communicates and acts. This has been helpful in my career working on large projects, especially ones with international participants, to build alignment and generate forward momentum. The important counterbalance to this is my American culture, which is easily summarized as: “You have a voice, use it.”

Q: How have you seen diversity as a valuable asset in our business?

A: As multinational corporations expand and grow, diversity only becomes more important in real estate to help us speak to our client stakeholders and understand their challenges and considerations, especially for Global Occupier Services clients with a myriad of locations connecting across the globe. Diversity in thought and perspective is crucial, and Cushman & Wakefield is making great strides to incorporate this mindset in our employees and our teams.

Q: What are ways that all employees can be champions for diversity in the workplace?

A: One thing a lot of individuals don’t realize is that there can be a cost to speaking up or out for someone from a diverse background, whether diverse means race, gender, disability, personal or political affiliation. A poor experience may make individuals more reticent to speak up, out or loudly even in seemingly mundane discussions. Providing an environment that celebrates thoughts, opinions and experiences different than the collective will encourage sharing and help a workplace become stronger, both as a business and as an employer of choice. Fostering a culture of candor and trust is a way for everyone to champion diversity in the workplace. Importantly, we are a team and it is important to have open dialog where everyone feels both welcomed and included, as well as championed for their commonalities and their differences.

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