Alex was born in South Korea, then adopted as an infant and raised on a farm in rural Illinois. Growing up, no one in his family looked like him. As an Asian American with a German surname, he has experienced — often from well-intended people — stereotyping and racism throughout his life. Dealing with those challenges has given him a broader perspective about diversity and inclusion, and he applies those lessons to his leadership approach.
Today, Alex leads enterprise initiatives across Caterpillar, and while he said he “could never fully identify with any of the labels that are meant to describe me,” his experiences help make him a more inclusive leader.
“I believe the causes of racism are human nature and the way people attribute experiences into belief. However, it is also within human nature to build relationships with different people, learn new complex ideas and value all human life. It is in everyone’s ability to overcome the tendencies that lead to racism,” he said.
Alex believes in managing people as individuals and focusing on their motivations and what drives them.
“On the surface — if you have someone on the team who is Brazilian, for example — whatever you conclude from that, it’s very thin,” he said. “You get past that surface-level understanding of people, and we are all very different. But, yet, we are similar; we all want to be respected, valued and supported.”