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#AAPI Perspective: How Diversity Powers the Future

#AAPI Perspective: How Diversity Powers the Future

For #AAPI month, Roopa Shortt explains the value of diversity and celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander culture

Business development leader Roopa Shortt focuses on innovation that helps reduce carbon footprint.

In her role at Honeywell, she makes it easier for solar and wind power generation to completely replace coal and gas plants.

To celebrate Asian American Pacific Islanders heritage month, we asked Roopa about shaping the future.

How does diversity power the future?

Diversity comes in many forms. It’s about your heritage, your experience and learning and your unique point of view. When we use all these perspectives to make products better, to find ways to collaborate, you’re really unlocking the best of us all. If we don’t act inclusively and allow everyone to have their voice, then it’s more likely we could be doing something wrong or missing on the full potential of the team.

We are in a really interesting period of the world right now. There is no longer a ‘normal’ way things are done. It’s so fun to experience other cultures. Advances in technology have allowed us to learn more about other people and other cultures. The opportunity for people to bring their authentic self to work will drive the next big things in the world.

How does your background shape your career?

I was born in India and moved to the U.S. when I was 4 years old. Growing up in an Indian immigrant family, there are often expectations to go into medicine or engineering. That started me on the engineering path since I love math, science and problem solving. I use those skills every day in my job and it’s helped me to be analytical and strategic in my career. My engineering degree helps me understand multiple technologies and then translate the technical to simpler terms for customers, this has helped me be able to move to excel in four industries (three at Honeywell and I started in automotive.)  Finally, I work with people all over the world and coming from a unique heritage myself it makes it easier to connect with my colleagues and customers.

How have you been inspired by AAPI leaders?

It is great how many AAPI leaders we now have as role models, which wasn’t the case when I was younger. In particular, Indian American women such as Vice President Kamala Harris; actor, writer and producer Mindy Kaling and former Pepsi-Co CEO Indra Nooyi have made great impact in their respective fields and have also shown others the realm of the possible. It’s inspiring to see so many Asian Americans succeed in diverse areas.

How do you inspire others?

There is definitely an aspect of people being able to visualize themselves in a role that can be critical to personal success. I do hope that if others see me in my role they feel that “they can do it too.” I have been a mentor for many colleagues at work. I am also a Girl Scout Troop leader and work to encourage girls to learn about science, technology, engineering and math, (STEM) the outdoors and other cultures.  Girl Scouts hold an annual event called Thinking Day and every troop represents a country. We have highlighted Japan, India, South Africa, among others and it helps kids get interested in people that aren’t like them.

Your role is centered on sustainability, why is that important for the future?

There has often been debate on how, as the world population grows, do we feed, clothe and house all these people. Innovation has been the key. Human beings find new solutions to the world’s problems. The critical piece now is how is that is done in a manner that is gentle to the planet.  It is critical for the future that Honeywell remains on the forefront of supplying the world’s energy needs in a sustainable manner.