May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to honor the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. While the AAPI community has many accomplishments to celebrate, it’s also important to recognize that being Asian American in the tech industry presents its own unique challenges and opportunities.

Here, five Kyndryls talk about their professional journeys and reveal why inclusion is essential for innovation and progress in the tech industry.

Sheema Karanath (Sreedharan)

Director, Alliances and Business Development


Living the American dream

I came to the U.S. in 2008, from Kerala, India, as a first-generation Indian American to live the “American dream” — only having my husband as family when I first moved. Unlike many other states across India, Kerala enjoys high literacy rates and maintains equity by providing education, irrespective of a person’s gender, caste or religion. My heritage has taught me that nothing is fair in this world, and that equality means nothing unless there is equity.


Education over everything

I believe education is of the utmost importance — it is something that can elevate social and economic status. In my culture, parents will cross all thresholds to help their children achieve academic success. My father instilled the idea that education and knowledge are things no one can steal from you.


Fitting in, just the way I am

I have always felt that as Asian Americans, we try too hard to fit in. When we feel our names are complicated for others, the first thing we do is change it. Personally, I would like to emphasize the idea of feeling proud of who we are — not having to modify our names or hide our accents. The beauty of America is that it’s a country built on freedom — and that allows us to be authentically ourselves.

Terry Boss

Director, Delivery Partner for Kyndryl Advanced Global Delivery


Identifying with multiple cultures

As a second-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Oregon, I’ve always identified with multiple cultures. My grandparents immigrated from Japan with my mother, and despite the time they faced imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, I was raised with the idea that hard work and perseverance can overcome all obstacles in achieving success.


Inheriting a strong work ethic

From the time I was in K-12 school, I’ve always held a part- or full-time job, which I attribute to my Japanese heritage. This work ethic has motivated me to do the best I could in any job I held, regardless of the circumstances.


Advice to the next generation

Master the art of learning from your mistakes — in the end it will make you a better leader.

Vicky Kaczmarek

Delivery Partner, State of Oregon


Resilience in the face of the unknown

My parents immigrated to the U.S. to seek freedom from an oppressive government. Growing up in a new, faraway country without my extended family taught me to be resilient in the face of adversity, to deeply nurture those you care about and to be adaptable in any situation. Acting as a bridge between two cultures in my family from a young age shaped me into the empathetic and resourceful person I am today. Through my personal self-discovery journey as a young Asian American adult, I’ve come to appreciate both sides of my ancestry — I attribute my artistic side to my Chinese roots and my warrior side to my Mongolian heritage.


Supporting the AAPI community

Supporting AAPI peers is deeply treasured by those who have felt their voices were not important enough to be heard, their accomplishments downplayed as simply a byproduct of their ethnicity, or those who have felt misunderstood by their colleagues because of their unique cultural backgrounds. If we make a conscious effort to ask our community how we’re doing or what our thoughts are, it will lead to more open conversations and new perspectives.


My parents, my inspiration

My parents grew up in extremely impoverished conditions in Inner Mongolia. My mother never faltered during a difficult upbringing, and was admitted to Peking University, known as the “Harvard of China,” where she met my father. A few years later, they fled to the U.S. to avoid the oppression of freedom of speech faced by their fellow Beijing students — and with nothing more than a few dollars in their pocket, attended graduate school, raised two children and advanced in corporate America. My mom is my ultimate role model, and I am so grateful for all the opportunities available to me in this country, thanks to my parents’ sacrifices.

Peter Yu

Director, Advisor Relations


Growing up with an entrepreneurial mindset

I’m a Korean American born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska — where my parents immigrated to from South Korea and embraced the abundant small business opportunities in the area. Without a doubt, my parents have served as my greatest inspiration in life. In pursuit of the American Dream, they became successful entrepreneurs from the ground up with very little in hand; this gave me a bird’s-eye view on the importance of creating value for customers and how to drive enduring, mutually beneficial relationships.


Driving change today and for the future

Supporting the AAPI community is a responsibility I relish, encouraging others like me to continue raising their voice and become active agents of change for our current and future generations. As Asian American cultures continue to be embraced more in the mainstream, I am truly excited for what the future holds.


Wisdom for the next generation

Have a self-starter mindset in the work you do and always think about how others can benefit from the best possible versions of themselves. In many respects, it is very much akin to taking life lessons and best practices from immigrant success.

Anita Mikus

Vice President, Government and Education Services


The power of hard work

My work ethic is something my parents instilled in me at a young age. As first-generation immigrants from India, they both worked incredibly hard in all aspects of life to enable opportunity for our family. As I grew up, I was acutely aware of the extra time, effort and sacrifices they had to put in just to level the playing field. From them, I learned there are not a lot of shortcuts in life — you must put in the time, gain different experiences, and feel both the pain and joy in lessons learned.


Years later, I find myself craving that same fulfillment that comes with giving my best. In my role leading government and education tech solutions within the U.S. at Kyndryl, I feel immense pride in providing support to state/local agencies and educational institutions to help enhance the experience of those they serve. And as a mother, I hope that I’ve passed on this appreciation for diligence and dedication to my two girls, who represent our next generation.


Strong alone, stronger together

The AAPI community needs mentorship, opportunity and the ability to be heard. The more we can help educate ourselves and others, expand our understanding of unique cultures and foster compassion for each other through greater awareness, the more we create a sense of “one-ness” across the community and can inspire others to leverage the energy and support that comes with it.