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The Voices of HRCap: AAPI Heritage Month Essay

The Inter-isms of Prioritizing Reskilling: A Reflection of an Indian-American Researcher of Korea & India

Written by Sonia Singh, Digital Transformation Team — Researcher

Sonia Singh, DX Team - Researcher at HRCap, Inc.

In January 2023, HRCap released our very first series of instatoons to visualize our Chief Marketing Officer and VP’s monthly expert HRM columns with Korea Daily (JoongAng Ilbo), a leading South Korean daily newspaper. The instatoon is reminiscent of the webtoon, another graphic narrative form that emerged in the early 2000s on platforms such as Daum and Naver. Why would HRCap choose to visualize their data-driven expert advice via digital toons rather than, say, a chart or a graph?

In a recent seminar on contemporary Korean visual culture, my professor enlightened my classmates and me on the different frames through which researchers approach the webtoon. The study of webtoons is a burgeoning activity, captivating various disciplines — media studies, global economic studies, and even cultural studies. My professor reminded us, however, that current literature either engages with its qualitative elements or its quantitative features — rarely do we see literature that engages with both. Indeed, there is an evident tension between research methods that extends beyond inquiries of the webtoon. We were then asked to think about where we can see both in our own research and how we can connect qualitative and quantitative analysis in our own work. I couldn’t help but think of the work we do at HRCap — the moments we traverse predetermined boundaries between numbers and words, disciplines, and even cultural identities. This occurs not only through our instatoons and other digital projects but also through our cross-team collaboration and multiculturality. As I approach my first year with HRCap, I further reflect on the interdisciplinary and intercultural moments I have witnessed professionally.

I was at a crossroads when HRCap contacted me about an opportunity as a Researcher on the Digital Transformation (DX) team. As an incoming graduate student at New York University focused on Korean literature and visual culture, I did not once think that my academic research skills could ever translate into market-industry research. However, a few months in, I learned otherwise. In 2022, Stella H. Kim, our current CMO and VP, was invited to speak at two major conferences in Seoul — namely, HRDK's Annual HR Development Conference and Hankyung's Global HR Forum, the largest annual Global HR Conference in South Korea. To support these projects, I had to familiarize myself with the current global labor market, its implications for HR Management, and the rising multigenerational conflicts in the workplace. I spent weeks flipping through and annotating industry white papers, data reports, and news articles to gather material. As my eye for market research sharpened, I learned that both data-driven predictions and human-driven experiences were significant to the trends we wanted to chart for our audiences. Both conferences were a success with Stella’s effective delivery, grounded in data-driven insights and limited bias and further propelled by her greater insight into HR market trends. One of them even ranked as one of the top three insightful lectures by the Chief Editor of HR Insight Korea, a leading HR magazine. Stella attributed this success to the team’s commitment and collaboration — whether it was to analyze trends with new data points, to combine our multilingual skills to translate sources in both languages or to quality check our presentation slides. Needless to say, this opportunity strengthened my understanding of the utility and vitality of general research skills, no matter the field. Thus, the more I build flexibility in my research skills, the more I can contribute to HRCap’s ongoing mission and my greater professional goals in academia.

Throughout my engagement with HRCap, I have felt fully engaged with the team’s ubiquitous culture of collaboration and determination. Of course, research can be quite the solitary experience. Whether it be market research about HR trends in the U.S. or South Korea, or about cultural tendencies across American or Korean corporations, I spend pockets of time independently analyzing sources and data. For the most part, I enjoy solitude for the sake of productivity. Yet, nothing feels better than reaching out to my DX teammates and hearing a resounding, “Yes! I’m happy to help!” Through these moments of collaboration, I often forget that I spend days away at New York University, immersed in scholarly readings of critical theory and literature. After those days pass, I’m right there in front of my teammates, crafting bi-weekly HR Insights, reading scholarship submissions, or planning our quarterly corporate workshops. It’s almost as if I was never gone. The moments I spend jumping between quantitative and market research with HRCap and literary and cultural research with NYU are when I feel the strongest connection between quantitative and qualitative research methods.

I also am proud to be a member of an Asian American organization heavily committed to social responsibility and diversity — reminding us we are more than just employees. This past March, HRCap celebrated Women’s History Month by acknowledging each of our women employees, both in our U.S. headquarters and South Korea branch, in a leaflet titled “Voices of Women at HRCap.” Each page highlights our contributions to our growing organization and provides meaningful advice for aspiring women leaders. HRCap also makes it a priority to recruit from diverse backgrounds. Through these efforts, I can interact with folks from other diasporic communities, strengthening my voice and sense of belonging. HRCap’s environment allows me to work with and for the greater Asian American community. Thus, as I witness the importance of intercultural solidarity and teamwork in material conditions, I also feel my relationship with my cultural heritage and gender identity as an Indian-American woman strengthen even more.

With such learnings, I eagerly look forward to our team’s exciting projects that amplify our commitment to the greater Asian American Pacific Islander community. For one, HRCap is dedicated to building up and empowering the next generation of Asian-American leaders. Our 2nd Annual HRCap Next-Gen Leadership Scholarship, in commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month, will highlight emerging young leaders active in Asian American cultural studies and their respective industries. We also give back to the community through partnering with organizations and academic institutions to offer career coaching. Our team presents at career seminars to provide valuable insights on crucial skills and experiences required by Korean transnational companies in the U.S. to prepare current young professionals to enter the workforce. We leverage our research and analysis skills to publish Industry White Papers and Career Guidebooks, offering thought leadership to both young and seasoned professionals informed by the latest job market trends. These initiatives highlight the value of generating opportunities that support others in our interdisciplinary (industry or academic) and intercultural communities. Thus, through my work with HRCap, I have learned to bring forth my interdisciplinary and intercultural experiences via both quantitative and qualitative research methods to make a greater impact on my team, community, and greater “world of research.”


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