Reminiscing about growing up in countries scattered across the globe, six MISO employees view diversity at MISO as a key asset. In the “Celebration of Diversity” panel at the All Hands forum on December 17, six MISO employees shared with their colleagues how these rich international experiences have shaped their various personalities and workstyles at MISO, yet they all share similar commitments to the MISO Core Values.
The panelists: Lynn Hecker (China), Darrin Lahr (U.S.), Abdul-Rahman Mohammed (India), Andrea Terry (U.S.), Nhung Vo (Vietnam) and Olga Voinarevich (Kazakhstan) described how “small” this big world is. Jay Hermacinski (U.S.) served as the moderator of the panel.
Nhung Vo from Vietnam met her husband who is from Indianapolis in Vietnam. “Going to the market is a big part of our culture. During the New Year there are celebrations in the market for 24 hours. I was able to stay the entire time and sleep there. It was like going camping,” Nhung said. She told the MISO employees that in Vietnam it is better to be a child with “lucky money” where kids get money in a red envelope from their parents. This is part of the New Year celebration.
Abdul-Rahman Mohammed explained how India experiences rolling blackouts. Given the dense population centers in India, it is difficult to provide electricity 24/7 there. “Blackouts can be a good thing because you have more time to spend with your family playing games and enjoying meals together. You get to be creative,” he said.
Lynn Hecker from China was very interested in the U.S. When she arrived from China her first taste of American cuisine was KFC. In China, boat races are festivals held to celebrate each Chinese New Year, which is the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
Andrea Terry from Arkansas remembers her family vacations. Since her parents did not like to fly on airplanes, they would pile into their family car and take long vacations to travel to Nevada or California. “All the kids had to sit quietly in the back seat and we had to be on our best behavior,” Andrea recalled. As for food, her mom makes delicious cheeseburgers made more scrumptious with toasted buns.
Darrin Lahr, also from the U.S., recalls his favorite food also being part of criminal activity. He grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs and Taco Bell was a favorite place to eat. “Taco Bell restaurants used to have real bells on their roofs. I took the bell off one of the Taco Bell roofs and had my very own Taco Bell bell, “ he recalled. His dad was not pleased.
Olga Voinarevich observed that Kazakhstan is a nomadic country so food has to be easy to prepare. One of the favorite beverages is horse milk, which has some fermented alcohol. She read the Koran and the Bible.
The panelists observed that MISO brings diversity to the job setting and people from all over the world are welcome at MISO. The employees understand and respect each other, but they need to have more courageous conversations. The different skillsets drive innovation. In dealing with customers, MISO employees are problem solvers and problems are solved more comprehensively. There is a lot of collaboration at MISO that enhances the diversity in cultures.