Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month
Learn more about inspirational stories of those Making Modern History at Taco Bell and beyond.
At Taco Bell, we believe that no matter where or who you are, you will always have a seat at the table to pursue your passions and drive a positive impact. We also believe that we have people within our Taco Bell family who are doing just that; Making Modern History and will one day be part of the stories we tell for many years to come.
The month of May celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This month was specifically chosen to honor the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. (May 1843), as well as to acknowledge the tremendous contribution Chinese immigrants made in completing the transcontinental railroad (May 1869).
AAPI is a wide-ranging term used to describe all cultures across the continent of Asia and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia – representing approximately 50 ethnic groups and 100 languages. There is incredible depth and richness of diversity found within the AAPI community, and this month is devoted to recognizing and elevating their cultural influence.
To honor this month and lead with action-oriented allyship, we’re amplifying the voices of those in the AAPI community who are growing their careers at Taco Bell.
While we’re telling their stories today, throughout the year, we will continue sharing how our Taco Bell employees across all groups make Modern History; the sharing and celebrating doesn’t stop here.
Elias Lim, Associate Manager of HR at the RSC
When Elias was nine, her family immigrated from South Korea to the Greater Toronto Area in Canada, which was as she says, “... a true melting pot made up of countless ethnicities, cultures and sub-cultures.” Adjusting to a new country, learning about unknown cultures and being unable to speak English was hard, especially when all she wanted to do was build new relationships.
“As you can imagine, building relationships with a language barrier was extremely difficult. I’ve made lifelong friends along my journey, but it didn’t come without deep heartaches and scars, too...”
Through that experience, Elias found a keen interest in how cultures are formed and impacted by geography, and in turn, how that influences human behavior.
“In hindsight that exposure was a key driver in me choosing to pursue an undergrad in Psychology and Criminology, and later completing a post-grad program in HR Management – all things grounded in people,” she said.
That’s when she found herself starting her career at Taco Bell Canada, always asking for feedback, opportunities to grow and staying hungry for more. Overtime, she was like a sponge – absorbing as much information as she could, but after a while, she realized that asking questions doesn’t always lead you to the solution.
“A leader once gave me advice that I still hold on to today, ‘Trust yourself. You have the answers. Just because someone with more experience has a different perspective doesn’t make you wrong.’ I try to remind myself to amplify my voice and lean into others’ point of view, which can lead to even more value in the end,” she said.
And that’s when Elias started changing the game for Taco Bell Canada through leading recruitment strategy-building and execution, cross-functional teams from an HR point of view, and benefits design – just to name a few. With hard work and perseverance, she was offered a role in sunny Southern California as part of the Field HR Team supporting Taco Bell Corp. equity restaurants. While she was a little scared about moving across the country by herself, she knew this opportunity was one that she couldn’t pass up.
It’s been three years since she made the move. Since then, she has completely reinvented the way Taco Bell employees develop their careers and is now helping lead Organizational Development across every department and around the globe.
So, how does she do it? Every day, when she looks in the mirror, she’s reminded of the motivation and love that her family gave to her (and still does). Because of them, her desire and passion are embedded in everything she does and is showcased every chance she gets.
“My parents left behind everything they knew and loved to plant roots in an unknown environment and gave me a life where I could intentionally make choices they never had. They are a true testament that with resilience, dedication, and hard work you can achieve anything, and they’ve instilled those values in me through and through. It’s hard for me to fathom the sacrifice and courage it took for them to get me here. My whole world exists because of their selflessness, and they are my ‘why.’”
If you see a little bit of yourself in Elias, here’s what advice she’d like to give to you...
“Growing up as an immigrant, I was no stranger to style-switching. But too much of that can chip away at who you are as a person. So, my advice would be… let your personal style shine through and surround yourself with people that lift you up and embrace your individuality.”