Author Sayu Bhojwani’s journey from India to Belize to American citizenship has shaped her mission to recruit public servants and elected officials who reflect all members of our country.

Author and popular TED talk speaker Sayu Bhojwani is on a personal mission to bring new voices into public life and government and bring representation to all Americans. She shares her journey on becoming an American, as well as her deep understanding of the changing demographics of the nation’s workforce. Plus, hear how her organization, New American Leaders, is able to attract and motivate talent with a purpose-driven vision and an agile startup mentality.

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Prologue

David Mead: Welcome to Behind The Talent, a podcast from Indeed where we sit down with the people who find the people that drive industries, entertainment and culture. We’ll hear how they do it and expand our understanding of what it means to be a recruiter in today's world of work.

I'm David Mead, and on today's show I talk with Sayu Bhojwani. She recruits people for some important jobs as the future public servants and leaders of our country. In her book and popular Ted Talk, Sayu tells about, as she describes it, "her journey to becoming American."

She understands how the changing demographics of the United States will impact business, government and nonprofit organizations. Sayu Bhojwani, recruiting for the workforce of tomorrow, on this episode of Behind The Talent. 

Introduction

David: So let's dive in, Sayu, I'm really excited to speak with you and your upbringing is really interesting. You were born in India, immigrated to Belize when you were four, moved to the United States when you were 17 and became a U S citizen when you were 33.

Sayu Bhojwani: I describe myself as a professional immigrant in a way, because from the time that I was born, my parents were moving. By the time I was five, I had lived in two cities in India, in Nepal, and then two cities in Belize. And so moving, and creating new homes and new spaces has been a part of my journey. I'm fortunate now that I have landed in America and will be here and this is my home for the long-term.

David: How has your life in different countries affected the way you think about a sense of belonging?

Sayu: In many ways I feel like I belong everywhere and nowhere. And having that experience shapes who I am as an individual, but has deeply informed my work. I think if you look at everything that I've done and particularly the organizations I've started, they're really rooted in creating a sense of belonging for people who look like me, who share my immigrant story, and I also know that belonging is sometimes something that we have to claim, and that's not always offered to us.

David: Hmm, say a little bit more about that.

Sayu: I think that over the years that I have been in the United States, I have learned to claim being American. Even when someone might look at me as a brown skinned Indian American with a name like Sayu Bhojwani and decide that I am not of this place, I can claim that I am of this place.

David: What are some of the attributes or the traits that you gained in those formative years?

Sayu: I think you take for granted and accept difference as part of life. I became an international student in the United States. And that is when I really started to understand the difference in the United States. And then, when I finished graduate school, I was told that I had a certain period of time in order to find employment and be employed legally on my, what used to be called a practical training visa. So the sooner you find a job, the longer you can be employed.

David: And that's some pressure.

Sayu: It took a lot of determination to find a job that, uh, as soon as I possibly could. And the job that I got within about a month of graduating from university was as an editorial assistant.

And I do the kind of usual check-in that you do with HR and HR asks me for the paperwork that I need to demonstrate that I'm authorized to work in the United States, and I show them this whole sheaf of papers, right? Because I don't have what's called a green card and I don't have a U.S. Passport. I have this sheaf of papers that basically authorizes me to work in the United States. And she keeps going through the sheaf of papers and looking at it over and over and is trying to understand what this thing is. Eventually she says, “Well, where's your green card?” And I said, “Well, I don't have a green card.”  And she's like, “Well, where's your passport?” So we go back and forth like this. And then finally she says to me, “Well, we can't hire you because we only employ green card holders and citizens.” And so, I say I have this dubious distinction of being fired from my first job on the first day.

David: Tell me a little bit about what it felt like to you to become an American citizen when that happened for you.

Sayu: I think the thing about becoming an American citizen or becoming an American … That's a journey. That's not about paperwork. I think that I felt very much a part of American social and civic fabric by the time I actually took the oath of citizenship. But, something happens when you become a citizen that gives you a greater sense of your rights and responsibilities as an American. I mean, first of all, it's a very public ceremony, so you're sharing it with hundreds of other people who are experiencing the same thing in a way.

I mean in that moment that is what you feel. You feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself. For most of us who have been living in the country for a while, we feel fully American. I became a citizen in December of 2000. I voted for the first time in 2001 and I was appointed Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs in 2002. I would not have been able to vote if I hadn't been a citizen. I also would not have been able to get a New York City government appointment if I wasn't a citizen.

David: Right. 

Sayu: That was a particularly powerful time because in September of 2001, as most people know, New York City was attacked.

David: Sayu, everyone from New York has their own 9/11 story. I mean, I'm from Utah and I remember exactly where I was, but obviously for those here it was much more poignant. What's your story of 9/11?

Sayu: So actually on 9/11, 2001, I lived in Queens. I also cast the first vote of my lifetime. I was going about the morning, you know, I'd voted early. Uh, there was no line. The polls were still open at the time. I got a call about the first plane and then I went out onto my fire escape. And by that time, the second plane had hit. And then the rest of the day was the mad scramble that everyone had. I, like many people, I don't think we fully understood how that had shifted the entire direction of so many things.

It changed the course of my career as well because I think if September 11 hadn't happened, I would have been perfectly happy to stay in grad school. But within a few days it became very clear that I needed to be doing something that was not sitting in graduate school classrooms. It was an incredibly difficult time for the entire city, particularly difficult for those who lost loved ones. But also difficult for people in immigrant communities more generally. But in Arab American, South Asian, Muslim communities, more specifically because suddenly, you know, the entire country was seeing images of men who looked like my brothers, like my father, like my uncles and associating images of these men with everyone in our community.

David: Yeah, I can only imagine.

Sayu: Our community felt under attack. Immigrant communities and more broadly felt under attack. And yet someone like me who had been doing work in immigrant communities was in a position in government that could be responsive to the questions that were arising. And so it wasn't just that I got appointed to government, but that I was being appointed to government in that moment in New York City's history, at that time when our communities really needed the reassurance that government was there to serve them as well. 

David: You've described your decision to become an American citizen as a conscious choice. Other immigrants have not had that same experience. They've been fleeing from oppression or fleeing to America for a particular reason. How do those different immigrant journeys affect long term perspectives, do you think?

Sayu: I think the way that I embrace my sense of belonging here is different. I think for people who had to attend asylum hearings, who have spent an extended period of time being undocumented and hiding in the shadows, I think it takes a longer time. Sometimes it never quite happens that you feel the sense that you really belong and that you have the rights that everyone else has.

I think that there are many, many people who become American citizens and who still feel marginalized. I think I'm very fortunate to have had fewer of those marginalizing experiences. And I think it does inform the way that I show up. I think I show up with a sense of authority and confidence that is not always possible for everyone. But also it informs the way that I do my work.  It is because I know that I have nothing to lose, that I can speak out more frequently, that I can challenge more regularly and then that I can help build structures that support people who don't have the same sense of privilege really, that I do.

So you have a responsibility as someone who needs to see that change for their community to push for that. And so the work that I'm doing now to ensure that there are hundreds of policymakers who look like the neighborhoods and the communities they represent, that work is deeply influenced by having been in that position myself once.

[MUSIC]

Creating a sense of belonging

David: Tell us about New American Leaders. 

Sayu: Good. Well that's my favorite subject. 

David: [LAUGHS]

Sayu: New American Leaders’ mission is to build a more inclusive democracy. And we do that right now primarily by recruiting and training immigrants, refugees, those who are first, second, third generation immigrants to run for public office.

We believe that by helping immigrant communities tap into their power and potential, we can build a democracy that is more inclusive in terms of its voters, its donors, and its candidates and elected officials.

David: What hiring practices do you use to recruit this next generation to get them started on that path?

Sayu: So there are two ways in which we are bringing people into the organization, right? One is programmatically, recruiting the folks who are training. And then the other is organizationally in terms of those who we're hiring to run the day to day operations as well as to conduct the trainings.

It's really important that the people who are working at New American Leaders reflect the experiences of those who we're working with. And so there is a kind of core values orientation that informs our programs as well as our hiring practice. And like every organization, you know, we are learning and in an evolution. And so in the early days, the people who were being attracted to the organization to work had to have the startup mentality, right?

David: Hmm. 

Sayu: The startup mentality for better or worse is a kind of “Be available all the time, be flexible about what job you're going to be doing at any given time.” And so it, for me, was everything, you know, for me it was everything from meeting with a donor about a hundred thousand dollar grant, to helping clean up after a training. 

We're now hiring people to a job description, but we're still looking for that values orientation. And we're still looking for an attitude about work and about the commitment to the mission and the cause. And those values are broadly defined around authenticity, around accountability, around inclusivity.

Do the folks that come to the organization come to work at the organization understand that what we're trying to do is to build a system that works for people like us? It is not necessarily the case that because someone happens to be Asian American or Latino, that they understand the needs of those communities and are willing to fight for those needs.

David: So once they're hired, what's next?

Sayu: I'd say that the work that we do can be separated into three buckets. One bucket is what we call the pipeline work, which is building the bench, recruiting people who are not yet in office but have a commitment to a cause, have a commitment to their community and we believe have an interest in and a potential to run for office and serve in office. So that pipeline building the bench is one area of work.  A second area of work is supporting people once they are in office, helping them to stay true to the values that got them elected in the first place, supporting their leadership. Many of the people we work with are first generation elected officials. Their mothers were not mayors, their fathers were not Congress members.

And they're first generation Democrats or Republicans. And then the third bucket is political, more explicitly political work, so that when people are actually running for office, our tax status as a C3 organization doesn’t allow us to engage with them. But we have our C4 arm, which does endorsements, and gets involved more in more electoral work.

The most core value is that we believe that our work is about creating a sense of belonging for every person in America. Anyone we recruit, anyone we support needs to buy into that mission. There is a place for everyone at the table, and when someone new comes, we can set another plate and create space for them. It's not a zero sum game. 

David: Going back to those that you're recruiting, what are some of the biggest fears or detractors that might be in place when they're thinking about running for public office?

Sayu: I'd say the number one barrier that most people with whom we work face is the feeling that people like them don't belong in elected office or in government. That could be because of their name.  That could be because of their religion. That could be because of the way they look. Many of them feel that way because they have been explicitly told that. 

David: What advice might you have for somebody who is of a minority population as they're going out looking for a new job or starting their own new venture and dealing with some of these same barriers?

Sayu: You know, I think it's important that we recognize that every individual has a journey, right?  I'll offer a couple of pieces of advice. One of them is to recognize that things are not going to change unless we speak up for ourselves.  If you accept and allow for your name to be said in a way that causes you discomfort but it's comfortable to someone else, you know, again, it's an individual choice. But I think that your colleagues, the people around you aren't gonna necessarily ever know that they're doing something that isn't consistent with your own desires.

And then if you have a financial need, it's like really hard to say actually, “Just because I'm Latino doesn't mean that I grew up poor or that my family was undocumented. I actually might be a second or third generation college student.”

David: What can organizations and hiring managers be more aware of as they're looking at applicants from minority populations and how do they get around their conscious or unconscious biases about what they might place on those people?

Sayu: I think it's very important that this idea of diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded in the organization and that it is not an event — diversity month, diversity week, diversity day, diversity training. There has to be conscientious, year-round, ongoing effort to build diversity, equity and inclusion into the practice of the organization. I see that as everything from what food is being served to who you're hiring to how you're onboarding folks.

Equally, the responsibility for diversity, equity, inclusion needs to be a shared responsibility between leadership and staff who might be specifically focused on that. So, I think it's absolutely worthwhile to put resources behind specific staffing around those issues. But if it is not a shared responsibility between leadership and senior team members and managers and the like across the board, then it's like, “Oh, I have to do this diversity thing.” And I think it's very akin to sexual harassment training, for example, right? Where there was a period where I think sexual harassment training was seen as this necessary evil as opposed to very much a part of how we need to change the way that we do business.

I do think that it should not be left to the employees who are from these minority backgrounds or are minorities within the organization. For example, at New American Leaders, we have a staff that is predominantly women and predominantly people of color. It's my responsibility as a leader of the organization, it's the leadership team's responsibility, to not have men feel excluded or to not have our employees who are not people of color feel excluded. 

And so ... How do we make sure that also you're creating safe spaces for everyone within the organization? Because I have operated on the inside, if you will, on the inside of government, on the inside of large institutions, I have always considered it my responsibility to do some education.

David: Hmm.

Sayu: I think when something makes me uncomfortable, I have found ways, not always, but at times found ways to communicate what it is that makes me uncomfortable about a practice or a policy. And how I might suggest that we change it.

[MUSIC]

The advantage of a diverse workforce

David: You're talking about a lot of great concepts and ideas. Is there anything specifically that you're doing at New American Leaders as far as recruiting that you feel is helpful for other organizations as well?

Sayu: One of the things that New American Leaders does not struggle with that it seems like a lot of organizations struggle with and that we have been asked about is … How do we recruit people of color? I think it's very simple. I think that we communicate very clearly through our website, through our programs, through the values language that we use, that people of color are welcome, and that it's a place where people will feel safe regardless of who they are, frankly.

I think we do a lot to recruit staff members from the new American leaders community, meaning that when a job description is  put out, we circulated to our alumni, we circulated to people who are familiar with our organization and our programs. And so in that way, we kind of self-perpetuate a cycle of inclusion. Another specific practice that we're doing is what I describe as incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the organization. So there's no one person who carries the responsibility for DEI.  And we're still figuring this out, but it was very important to us that the DEI wasn't just some standalone thing. And that we as an organization that on the surface  an organization that's predominantly people of color working with people of color might be able to take for granted that DEI is part of who we are. But that's not always the case, right?

Most of our organizations are closed on major Christian holidays and sometimes on Jewish holidays. So I think making sure that there is an opportunity for people to take floating religious holidays and to be very explicit and encouraging of that, right? Because if you're the only person who celebrates a particular holiday and meetings are being scheduled on that day, then the onus gets put on the employee to decide. 

And I think the more that the onus can be put on management and leadership to create a welcoming and inclusive scenario wherein I'm not having to make that decision as an individual about, “Well, should I come in on this religious holiday because there's an important meeting scheduled?”  It's not enough to communicate to someone that it's okay if you're not there, because at least currently in the work culture that we have in America, you know, you are expected to show up and there's a high degree of pressure that employees feel to show up.

David: Hmm.

Sayu: When it comes to increasing understanding of, uh, gender class and racial diversity and of an increasingly multiracial America as well as an increasingly multi-racial consumer base, the key to me is to not turn to the one person in the room or the two people in the room who happened to share the ethnicity of, say, a consumer market that you're going after, right?

We're not gonna rely on someone on the team to do the education for everyone. We're not going to put that person in the uncomfortable position of having to educate their colleagues about let's say the Hispanic consumer market.

David: Hmm.

Sayu: So you don't turn to me as an Indian American and say, “Well, what's it going to be like if we decide to do work in India?” Because frankly, you know, first of all, I haven't lived in India since I was four. I couldn't tell you what it would be like to work in India, but also it puts me in a very uncomfortable position. Um, and then it signals to me that you also see me differently, right?

David: Yeah, it would. So how else can a recruiter build a diverse team and help people feel like they really fit in?

Sayu: One of the things that you can look at is who is screening resumes?  Who is conducting interviews?  Are there questions that are being asked in the interviews that may be off putting?

David: You've said that fit is important for nonprofit organizations. How about for profit organizations?

Sayu: I think that all businesses have some sort of values orientation. Not all of us might agree with their values orientation, but there is a values orientation. So it is important to recruit people who understand that values orientation and who are committed to that values orientation. And I think that matters for any organization, small or big frankly.

The more that we hire to that culture rather than try to impose that culture, I think the more authentic a workplace can feel.

David: Is there anything that you've done specifically to assess the fit of those that you're looking to recruit into your organization?

Sayu: Increasingly, as our organization has grown, we have relied on exercises as a way of determining whether the people that we're hiring will be the right fit. And so what I mean by that is, you know, we often do these interviews and interviews are such a false construct, right?

David: Hmm.

Sayu: Because you're behaving differently. The person you're interviewing is behaving differently than day to day.

And it's been a great way to see how that person would approach a problem, what kind of values orientation they might have toward that problem. And sometimes we ask explicitly if we're looking for the values orientation, we ask, what are the underlying values that would inform the way that you approach this decision?

David: Why is a diverse workforce more productive than a homogenous one, either here or any other country that you're aware of?

Sayu: I think the advantage to a diverse workforce is that people learn how to grapple with problems differently, that you bring different perspectives and different lived experiences to any challenge that the organization is facing. And so I think a diverse workforce makes an organization stronger because diverse perspectives are attacking both the challenges and the opportunities. To me that is one of the most central things that can happen, that there's a challenge to conventional thinking. 

The reality is that just under 60% of our country's non Hispanic white and that those numbers are continuing, um, to decrease, right? And so if you're looking at a workforce that doesn't understand the consumer base, I think then you're talking about an organization that is out of touch with the America of today and the America of tomorrow.

This is not just an issue of political correctness. I think the organizations that are the most successful are the ones where the leadership and the workforce is aligned and representative of the people that they're serving.

[MUSIC]

The evolution of culture and values in a startup environment

David: You mentioned that in the early days the environment was much more sort of a startup mentality. You were looking for that type of person. How has that changed over time?

Sayu: I wouldn't say it's a laborious or onerous process, but it's a process we've thought through.  In the first five years, I would say, most people who were hired by the organization, not all, but most of them came from, you know, “I think you're amazing and we really need a program director. And what do you think about taking on this job?”

David: You mentioned using exercises during interviews, like giving applicants a task to perform. Can you think of a recent one? 

Sayu: For example, I just hired someone to support me in my work. And I shared a couple of examples of the types of emails that come in to me that the person would be responsible for responding to. And what I'm looking for in those responses is not just the straight forward, “How do you deal with this particular situation?” but also ...“What is the tone and the tenor of how you're going to respond to someone we don't know and don't have a relationship?” And in that tone and tenor, I get a sense of how relational that person is.

But saying that in an interview saying, you know, how relationship are you, I wouldn't get the kind of answer that would really tell me the truth.

David: It reminds me of a distinction that I use often that I didn't make up. But it's the difference between being and doing, right? You can do the thing, you can write the email, you can make the words sound pretty, but what's the being behind it? Who are you being, the type of environment that you're, you're creating? The feeling that you're portraying through what it is that you're doing in that combination sounds like it's pretty important.

Sayu: I had two finalists for that position and a big part of the decision was around the tone and tenor of those emails cause one person wrote very straightforward emails and that could work for someone else, you know, but it wouldn't have worked for me.

David: Sure.

Sayu: I wanted that person to communicate something in the way that I would communicate it. 

David: Yeah, of course. How can organizations tap into new prospective employee populations that they're not currently drawing from?

Sayu: There's a growing number of organizations that are working to ensure diversity in certain sectors. So those are places where, you know, strategic partnerships can be built, say for example in tech or, or STEM industries. But I also think that we need to think increasingly about the college campuses on which we recruit. I don't think that state universities and community colleges get as many recruiters. And that's a place where there's a huge amount of talent.  

There should be no assumption that people who are graduating from Ivy Leagues are frankly any smarter than someone graduating from a state university or college campus. A whole range of reasons why people end up at Harvard. There's a whole range of reasons why people end up at SUNY Albany. I think thinking that talent exists everywhere is really key for the next generation of our young people. No one should have to feel that they have only one track available to them because they could either afford to or chose to go to a state university. 

David: How do you balance the need to add to a culture with fitting into a culture that's already successful?

Sayu: Balancing existing culture with potential changes comes kind of naturally. I think where organizations suffer is when there's an unwillingness to adapt because you're adopting not just to new voices that are coming into the organization, but you're also adapting to a new climate. Like in our case, for example, it used to be that we were the only organization that was recruiting in these communities to get people to think about running for office. Since the 2016 elections, tons of organizations have emerged.  None is doing exactly what we do, but it would be foolish of us to ignore the fact that the landscape is more competitive. And so we have to think differently about how we're doing recruitment.

David: How do you suggest that they make those changes or adapt in the way that they need to while staying clear and focused on that existing mission, but be open to the changes and the evolutions that come around that?

Sayu: Most leaders I know embrace change more easily than other people.  I'm always more ready for change than people in my organization. And sometimes that's not because my personality is different. It's sometimes just because my job is different, right? So I'm doing more external work. I'm observing things differently than people whose job is more internally focused, which is the case in many organizations, right?

And so I think the evolution of culture does require time. And I think it's important that people have stability while there is change.  We have to take the time to help bring the change along and you can't change everything at the same time. You have to manage people's anxieties around that change.  And so I think time is a big one. Communication is a big one.

I always think that I'm being very transparent, but it always comes back to me that I haven't been transparent enough. I think that's partly because when we're sitting in leadership positions, we are grappling with those changes all the time. But for good reason, you know, the entire organization of employees should not be grappling with changes all the time. That is exhausting.

David: How does transparency affect productivity?

Sayu: One of the things that happens often is that sometimes it's a leadership group or a management group or some working group grapples with a particular issue. They spend a lot of time grappling with that particular issue and then they present it to the rest of the organization as a done deal, right? What we're telling folks is the how. 

We're going to change, you know, the organization who handles our benefits program and this is how it's going to happen. And we spend very little time on the why.  Transparency helps people feel like they are part of the process.

David: You've said that certain people are really good in that startup environment, and then when things shift, they struggle with that and vice versa. There are people who really like the stability and I know exactly what I'm going to do when I come to work every day. And the startup environment is a little tougher. Do you feel like it's a recruiter's responsibility or a hiring manager's job to look for the ability for people to flex or is it better to hire somebody for the situation that the company is currently in and if it changes, then we'll make the adjustments as necessary? What's that foresight?

Sayu: It's the responsibility of an organization to hold on to good people.

David: Hmm hmm.

Sayu: But I also think it's a responsibility, particularly of leaders and managers to recognize when something is not working. And some startup people can evolve, you know, to be more responsive to structure. But you know, what hasn't changed is that our core mission and values, maybe how we talk about them has changed a little, but our core mission and values is still to build a more inclusive democracy. And so I know that there are people in our organization who are 100% committed to that core culture. But if I say, “Well, you know, next year the programs are going to change in this way…”

There are people in the organization who cannot handle that kind of transition year to year.  And the most heartbreaking thing I think for any of us is when someone who's really good but they're just not working for the job or for the organization, I don't think it's fair to other employees to keep someone that's not working within the culture of the organization.

David: What recommendations do you have for people who are very committed to that mission or the purpose of the organization and are struggling within the organization?

Sayu: I think people usually know that something is off, because they're not happy. You know, I'll share. I had an experience very recently with someone who was working closely with me and it wasn't a good fit. And I think that we probably realized, both of us, three to four months before we addressed it, that it wasn't a good fit. And the last three to four months were difficult, because both of us were avoiding a conversation that then ended up happening.

And the way the conversation happened because it happened in an unplanned way, was much more toxic than if we had sat down and had that conversation at the point that we both realized that things were not working.

David: So stepping into the discomfort. When you're feeling that, being able to approach your leader, whoever you need to talk to about it, and have the conversation early.

Sayu: Right, and usually that discomfort isn't just one instance, right? So one instance is not because you're not a right fit. It's one instance is, “Listen, the way you handled the situation made me uncomfortable.” 

But if you are having repeated feelings that this something is not working, I think it's important to have that conversation.

[MUSIC]

What it means to be an American

David: Sayu, what advice do you have for leaders or organizations that struggle with diversity?

Sayu: I'd say it's two things. One is: Assess your internal conditions, right? What it is that might not be supportive of a diverse workforce and then assessing what they're doing externally to recruit. Where are they recruiting?  Who is doing the recruiting? What is the process by which people are being recruited? And how might that be shutting out folks, you know, and so that's anything from ... Is it shutting out people with nontraditional educational backgrounds? Is it shutting out people of color? Is it shutting out women? You know, what could be happening if all the recruiters are male going to colleges?  Maybe men are or women are just not coming up to the recruiting booths, things like that. I think so. I'd say broadly looking internally at what the culture is and how that may not be supporting a more diverse workforce. And then looking externally at practices for recruitment and messages that the company sends out. What is on the website? What are the signals?

David: How does a feeling of belonging and acceptance affect productivity?

Sayu: That feeling of sense of belonging allows you to focus on the job at hand.  For-profit or not for profit organizations are no different from families and communities and any body of people. If there's someone who feels like their voice doesn't matter, or that what they're doing doesn't matter, there is going to be a weak link, right? And so our job as leaders I think is to build organizations where no one feels like a weak link. 

David: I feel like rather than taking on the responsibility  to figure all these things out, talk to the people in the organization to say, “Hey, what's the best way for us to handle this?  How can we do it better?”  

Sayu: Exactly. I think we're in a very challenging but also hopeful moment for America.

I fundamentally as an optimist see this moment in America as we're grappling with what it means to be American, who is an American. I see the grappling with that question as fundamentally a hopeful thing. What I hope is that we're going to come to a place and it's going to be a difficult journey getting there, but we're going to come to a place where everyone feels like they belong.

David: Hmm.

Sayu: Even if in certain situations I might feel different than my fellow employees or than my fellow community members. The fact that I know that somewhere in America there's a place for me, I think he's a really powerful thing and I still believe very much, as I think many immigrants do, that America is a unique and wonderful place.

You know, we've said that, sometimes you love your children but you don't always like them. And I love America even though I don't always like things that are happening here. But it's what keeps me here and I think it's what brings a lot of people here. It’s what makes, it's our belief in America that makes immigrants and refugees, you know, fight to get here and stay here.

Conclusion

David: Sayu Bhojwani doesn't take being an American for granted and neither do the people she's recruiting in her role as CEO of New American Leaders. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Sayu as much as I have.

[MUSIC]

I'm David Mead. Thank you for listening to Behind the Talent. Click the free subscribe button to meet more people like Sayu who are experts on identifying and hiring great talent.

Ending Credits

Behind the Talent is a Wondery production brought to you by Indeed. Find more Behind The Talent as well as videos and articles about the world of recruiting at indeed.com/lead.