DEI May. 30, 2023

Celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month: Meet Patricia Park-Li 

"Inclusion@Climate: Sowing the Seeds of Belonging" is a feature highlighting the diverse backgrounds of our employees and their achievements, passions, and personalities. We hope you enjoy learning about their contributions to our community, and we think you'll agree that the very best elements of our culture are the people.      

Our latest entry celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, and this year's theme of “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”, emphasizes how being a leader can create growth opportunities for yourself and others around you. 

Meet Patricia Park-Li, Senior Manager of Recruiting at Climate. Community, advocacy, and support have been key pillars of her professional success, for which she has her heritage to thank. 

Can you tell us a bit about your role here and what brought you to Climate?

I'm a Senior Recruiting Manager for Climate’s non-engineering teams like science and customer experience and engagement.   

In college, I studied Psychology with an Interdisciplinary Science minor, and I aspired to go into advertising and use my influence and persuasion learnings. But like many graduates, I took the road less traveled and worked for Jim Rivaldo, a political consultant whose primary clients were in the LGBTQ+ and Black communities—most notably Harvey Milk and Kamala Harris.  

Jim introduced me to grassroots movements and fighting for social justice and doing what's right. From there, I got my footing in the tech industry. I worked to build a career in HR and Talent, eventually leading me to recruiting for major game developer Zynga, famously known for Farmville.  

After a few years at Zynga, I wanted a new experience and was intrigued by what Climate had to offer; an opportunity to apply my love for psychology and science to building a more secure and sustainable global food value chain.  

I haven't looked back after my career decision to join Climate, and eight years later, I still joke that I went from virtual farming to real farming. 

Is there anything in your upbringing that led you to this career? 

I'm Japanese and Chinese and grew up in an environment with a strong sense of community and helping others.   

My grandmother's family on my mother's side owned a farm in Martinez, California, which was a typical Japanese-American experience. When her family was sent to internment camps during WWII, they were lucky to have neighbors who looked after their farm so that they could return to it. Looking back at the times I visited the family farm as a child, I've realized that caring for the land and those around you is imperative.  

Born in Japan and planting roots in San Francisco as an adult, my mother managed a low-income housing complex for senior citizens in Japantown. Seeing her go above and beyond for the mostly elderly residents taught me kindness, patience, and what it means to be part of a community.  

From my father's side, I learned a strong work ethic. My dad, a third-generation Chinese American, went from working at the family's Chinese laundry at a young age to becoming the first Chinese American—perhaps even the first Asian American—Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Superior Court.    

My family's stories of compassion and perseverance have shaped who I am today, translating into my work. The first time I helped a friend with a job opportunity, it transformed his life. Years later, his family expressed gratitude at his memorial for my support. This moment clarified how helping people by matching them with the right opportunity could make a difference.  

What element of your identity are you proud to bring to your role? 

Two things that are very important in my life are food and sustainability. Growing up in San Francisco with the never-ending threat of drought and my ancestral country of Japan being an island nation with limited space, I've always had the mindset of making the most of what I have.     

As a mother, I'm also driven to leave a better world for my kids. Though I'm not a scientist or have a technical background, I'm skilled at bringing in this type of talent to work on some of the most pressing global issues. 

How has your personal experience shaped how you connect with others and approach recruitment? 

It wasn't until later in life that I realized how much my culture means to me. My dad's family has been in the United States for generations, and there's a large concentration of Chinese Americans in San Francisco, so I never thought of myself as different. It was when I went to college on the East Coast that I felt like a minority. On my mom's side, the Japanese American community is small and shrinking—there are only three Japantowns left in the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose). Keeping a connection to my heritage is crucial, not only for me but also for my kids. 

It’s increasingly important for me to participate in cultural communities to advocate for representation and equality so that history—like the Chinese Exclusion Act, WWII Japanese American Internment, displacement of Japanese Americans in the 1950s and 1960s out of Japantown, the current AANHPI hate crimes—doesn't repeat itself. 

What career growth opportunities have you experienced or created for others? 

The most impactful career opportunity I've had was at Climate. About a year into working here, my team manager decided to explore a new role, and the director then encouraged me to apply for the open position. In my culture, you work hard and don't make waves or ask for things. I'm so grateful that my leader nudged me to raise my hand for a role I now believe was meant for me.   

Recently, I had a chance to participate in the McKinsey Asian management accelerator program at Bayer, our parent company. It was an introduction to management concepts like growth mindsets and strategic thinking. My peer group included other Asian Americans, and it was comforting to know others had similar cultural values influencing their careers. That was another game changer, giving me confidence because I knew I wasn't alone. 

As a talent acquisition leader, how important is being inclusive and sharing diverse perspectives? 

100% necessary. There's so much data out there proving that diverse organizations are more successful. I'm proud of our team's work to grow our DEI program and best practices within recruiting, like inclusive language job descriptions, structured interviewing, and bias training (shout out to our DEI Lead Annette Sarlatte-Matsu for developing Empower Hours!). Continuously improving our inclusive hiring practices is core to our talent strategy. 

A collection of Japanese celebratory dishes

Expressing love through food by hand-making special lunches for my kids

Soy and tofu Japanese community dessert competition champion, three years and counting

We're thankful for the chance to share Patricia's career growth story and how her Japanese-Chinese culture has positively impacted it. If you're feeling inspired, our diverse, supportive, and fun team is hiring!

We're looking for passionate problem solvers to help us work towards a more sustainable future:

About the Author

Patricia Park-Li is a Senior Manager of Recruiting at Climate. Since joining the company in 2014, she has supported each organization and has taken on a team of her own. She has a BS in Psychology, a minor in Interdisciplinary Science from Trinity College, and a certificate in Human Resources Management from San Francisco State University. Patricia is a fourth-generation San Franciscan, and lives in the city with her husband, Joshua, their two daughters, and their dog, Akihito. 

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