It was early spring 2014 when this journey began. We had the privilege of meeting with four fellow
Korean women from various professions. In our encounter, we shared our life experiences:
education, career paths, families, values and philosophies.
Although from different walks of life, we quickly realized that we shared similar backgrounds, raised by parents who had a common desire for their daughters. That is, to be strong (but not ‘too aggressive’), to be honest (but not ‘too opinionated’), and to carefully choose a ‘successful’ career path in the eyes of our parents and the Korean-Canadian community (in other words, their friends).
The challenge growing up, however, was that some of the traditional ‘successful’ careers were not necessarily what we may have wanted to pursue and the others were somewhat elusive. And while at a young age we may have been aware of the many industries that existed, we didn’t have a wide network, nor did we know how to pursue all the brilliant opportunities that were out there for us.
In our careers, we have faced challenges and successes that have shaped who we are both professionally and personally. It was inspiring to hear these stories and to meet women in senior positions from various industries. But what became most evident was the need to share these stories with others – the knowledge and experience we have accumulated throughout our careers – in order to help not only our own, but future generations in their professional development.
We all agreed that our community was in need of an organization to empower, inspire, mentor, lead and nurture young professionals. And while there are other associations that provide networking opportunities, there is still a gap. Our desire is to build an organization to help professional career development through mentorship and leadership programs, as well as civic and community engagement – to fill that gap.
This was the humble beginning of the Korean Professional Women's Association (KPWA).
What started off as a group of four women has grown exponentially to over 60 women and men in the past year. We have heard your needs and have developed our mandate, mission and values. With unique backgrounds and experiences, we are all excited about the birth of an organization that provides mentorship and leadership programs to assist in professional growth.
But this is just the beginning. We have planted a seed that we are nurturing to grow and evolve into a larger institution that will cater to the needs of the people within our community. As we embark on this journey together, we look forward to seeing this organization serve women and men of all generations in filling the gap.