By Janice Nesamani
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Taylor Hoang has donned several hats—perhaps it’s a genetic trait inherited from her mother, who she admits could never sit still. From waiting tables and helping her mother as a little girl at their restaurant Huong Binh, in Little Saigon, to opening and running her own restaurants in Seattle and on the Eastside, Hoang has seen it all and wanted to improve things for herself and the community.
Having received her business degree from UW Bothell, she helped farmers in Vietnam grow more sustainable coffee beans and benefit by exporting them internationally. She then supported ethnic minority business owners through co-founding the Ethnic Business Coalition.
Hoang’s impressive resume now has a new and perhaps even unexpected addition—Senior Manager of External Affairs at Amazon.
“The opportunity to join Amazon came at a time when I was looking to pivot my career and enter an organization that would allow me to serve our community in a more strategic and impactful way,” she said.
In her new role, she wants to leverage Amazon’s scale for good, and work hand-in-hand with local partners to build strength in our community.
“I look forward to continuing to develop Amazon’s connections with local communities. Our goal at Amazon is to grow and deepen our community partnerships to help our neighbors thrive,” Hoang said.
“Amazon is committed to being a ‘good neighbor’ in Seattle by doing the things that good neighbors do: looking after one another, showing up for each other, and making the community stronger and more resilient,” Hoang said.
After all, it’s something she recognizes because she’s done it before.
“This is done by supporting local organizations, nonprofits, and other community institutions and making investments in projects that improve the natural and built environment,” she said.
It may be difficult to see the champion of ethnic minority business owners toeing the line for Amazon, especially as the e-commerce giant got flak for asking federal regulators to block some shareholder proposals that revolve around curbing hate speech and offensive content as well as diversity, but Hoang said, “Diversity and inclusion are important to me and to Amazon.
Amazon believes that building a culture that is welcoming and inclusive is integral to people doing their best work and is essential to what we can achieve as a company.”
Hoang points out that Amazon actively recruits people from diverse backgrounds to build a supportive and inclusive workplace.
“We take steps to ensure employees have a sense of belonging, value, and opportunity,” she said. “Our diverse perspectives come from many sources, including gender, race, age, national origin, sexual orientation, culture, education, and professional and life experience,” Hoang added.
Having been her own boss for a large portion of her career, the Northwest Asian Weekly asked if the switch has been tough.
“It comes down to your work ethic, and as any small business owner knows, to build a successful business, you have to work hard and be smart,” Hoang said.
“I’ve just taken that same mindset to this role and it has been great. The pro is having all the corporate support at your fingertips, including resources, collaboration, teammates, benefits, and a steady pay.”
When pressed for a con, she said, “The con is getting used to a more structured work environment than what I was used to as a business owner.”
All that said, one of the things that Hoang values in her new role is that Amazon has been great about recognizing the work and life balance challenge we are all facing due to COVID.
“We are encouraged to take mental health time for ourselves and families, resources and tools to streamline workloads, and consistent check-ins with our managers to ensure we have what we need to be productive at home and work,” Hoang said.
Managing work and home has been like walking a tightrope for many, especially when you have kids and homeschooling is thrown in. With two kids and a new job, Hoang said, “Wine helps a lot,” when asked how she is holding up.
“Each family is different so you really need to find what’s right for yours. For example, to keep a consistent follow-up on the kids’ schoolwork, my husband and I do a 50/50 split, where I help my daughter manage her schoolwork and he helps my son,” Hoang said.
The family also leans on immediate family for help with dinner, laundry, and other tasks.
“We also find time to go outdoors as much as we can just to get fresh air and breathe.”
When asked if life in quarantine has meant any new hobbies or skills, Hoang said, “Life hunkered down is much busier than pre-covid, so there’s not a lot of room for hobbies or skills building. My superpower, however, would be the ability to multitask like never before.”
The past year has had challenges, but has definitely changed the way we think about work, something companies like Amazon may have to take into consideration when things get back to normal.
“I think for any company, the first concern is to ensure a safe environment for their customers, employees, vendors, community, and Amazon is no different,” Hoang said.
“How we work or return to work will really depend on health guidelines and the available resources to ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe,” Hoang said.
Based on announcements from other companies, she thinks we can expect some kind of hybrid in office and work from home structure.
“I think it will be great to help with traffic congestion, the environment, and flexibility.”
Janice can be reached at email@example.com.