Keny Chang of Asenso Finance: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society

Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine
Published in
5 min readFeb 3, 2022

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Diversity in leadership means greater wisdom and scalable experiences and perspectives, which in turn allows for the ability to relate to investors, improved employee engagement and client services. Diversity will also facilitate innovation and creativity, which is critical to capturing and maintaining market share.

As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Keny Chang.

Keny Chang is the president of Asenso Finance, a technology company providing lending-as-a-service solutions to enable community banks and CDFIs to offer low-interest, zero-collateral loans to underserved and underrepresented small business owners. Prior to joining Asenso, Keny has had high-level experience at top finance brands, including Citigroup, Comerica Bank, and FINRA, with extensive knowledge in M&A, financing, real estate investment, commercial lending, international banking, financial consulting, and venture capital. He is Chinese-Guatemalan and speaks fluent Mandarin and Spanish.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was born and raised in Guatemala where the Asian community was so small, and as someone of Asian descent, everyone knew each other. However, I never felt different; I’ve always felt a part of Guatemalan history and culture.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. This particular book helped make me into what I am today. In it, she talks about leadership as not just a title or the corner office, but the courage to put yourself out there and show the world what you can do, one step at a time.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Always give 101% of yourself. You will find that 1% to be your differentiator from the crowd.

I apply the same concept to all my work: to be successful, I don’t just want to be the same as the crowd, but to be different so I can stand out and show others the uniqueness of our work.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership, for me, means to lead by example. A leader should not only be charismatic but also be hands-on in problem solving. For example, a leader cannot view a problem as a distraction, but instead an opportunity for continuous improvement and learning experience for the employees.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

In our everyday lives, leader or not, we all have our stressors to deal with. However, it is important that we don’t take the stress out on others as our ‘punching bag’. But instead, take some “me time” to relax and do something that is not related to any work or the issue that’s causing the stress. For example, taking some quiet time, listening to music for 15 -20 minutes.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

The issues the US faces today on race, diversity, equality, and inclusion are not something new. In the 1970s and 1980s, we had to deal with issues on diversity of education; in 1990s, issues on the inclusion of gender orientation. As society continues to evolve, we will continue to revisit those topics and find new solutions.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

Definitely, as one of the initiatives I have done in the past is while working at Citigroup, I worked with our HR department in partnership with local non-profit organizations, such as California women lead and Asian women business to promote women in leadership roles, and made Citigroup one of the top workplace for women in banking, where in the past, leadership roles are mainly held by male counterparts.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

Diversity in leadership means greater wisdom and scalable experiences and perspectives, which in turn allows for the ability to relate to investors, improved employee engagement and client services. Diversity will also facilitate innovation and creativity, which is critical to capturing and maintaining market share.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. Establish a sense of belonging, by encouraging employee-led communities.
  2. Encourage change by maintaining a positive attitude toward new ideas and suggestions
  3. Acknowledge and honor different cultural and religious practices by maintaining a healthy curiosity
  4. Create access to resources by allowing individuals to try new ideas and challenges in addition to current responsibilities
  5. Open-minded communication by listening and allowing people a chance to convince you of the their ideas or point of view

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

I am optimistic about the resolution of this issue, but this will not be gone totally. As mentioned earlier, as humans, we continue to evolve, and many new ideas are created to solve the same problems with a new perspective. However, I will also argue that we often come up with outdated ideas and with a refusal to change. In many cases, either private or public organizations are bad at figuring out what the problems are and end up solving the wrong issues as well. Therefore, we will need to force ourselves to reframe the issue as an opportunity, rather than see it as a problem, so we can move forward with new solutions.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, because of his creativity and innovation, but most importantly, his vision ahead of the timeline, which also inspired me to do what I do.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can follow me on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenychangleon/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine

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