Eden Alvarez-Backus

Eden Alvarez-Backus
Vice President, US HR Business Partners, National Grid

Education: New York University PhD, Organizational Psychology; MA, Organizational Psychology; BA, Psychology
Interests: My 3 children, traveling, cooking, interior design
Company Headquarters: Waltham, Massachusetts
Website: www.nationalgrid.com
Primary Business: International electricity and gas company
Annual Revenues: $22 billion

How do you think Asian Americans have evolved in terms of industry/field diversity?
It depends. I believe that Asian Americans are now in broader roles than they have been in the past. Traditionally, Asian Americans tended to be focused in more technical roles such as engineering or the sciences. I see more Asian Americans lending their perspectives in many different, more creative areas. In terms of movement into senior roles with organizations, I think progress has been slower.

“Finding a way to appropriately share one’s accomplishments while still retaining a sense of humility can be a challenge.”

What do you think is the greatest issue or dilemma facing the Asian/Pacific-American community today?
Generally speaking, humbleness and humility are strongly held values in Asian/Pacific-American cultures that are traditionally collectivistic in nature. Promoting one’s accomplishments, educational background, or expertise can feel uncomfortable and be viewed as boastful. This can be at odds when operating in a culture that promotes individualism and differentiation. Finding a way to appropriately share one’s accomplishments while still retaining a sense of humility can be a challenge.

What advice would you give the next generation of Asian/Pacific-American business leaders?
Think of all the individuals who have influenced your life both positively and negatively. Identify what about those individuals impacted you and in what way. Then figure out what you want your personal brand to be (what do you stand for; the impact you want to have on others), and the behaviors that would effectively communicate that brand. Consistently deliver that message through the decisions you make, the behaviors you engage in and the words you say. Diligently guard that brand as it will take a while to build but only moments to destroy.