Elaine Wan, human resources business partner shares her love of baking and what family and AAPI Month mean to her

Elaine eating soup dumplings in Shanghai

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage month, a time to celebrate the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Our employee resource group Asians@ leads our month-long celebrations around the theme: “I AM _____.“ The core message is to showcase the vibrant diversity and unique experiences both within Asia and involving those at Dropbox who identify as AAPI. The aim is to counter the stereotypes of the model minority myth and simultaneously celebrate bold and multi-faceted AAPI individuals and the experiences that have shaped them. In celebration of AAPI month, we’ll be featuring Dropboxers and sharing their thoughts, experiences, and how they fill in the blank.

Q: What is your name, what office do you work out of, and how long have you been at Dropbox?

A: My name is Elaine Wan, and I work out of the Seattle office. I’ve been at Dropbox for a little over three and half years.

Q: What is your current role at Dropbox?

A: Just a few months ago, I made the transition from recruiting software engineers in Seattle, to the HR Business Partner team at Dropbox. My day to day involves finding ways to support the growth of Dropboxers, which is kind of a dream come true.

Q: Anything that you have done/accomplished at Dropbox that you’re proud of?

A: I was the first locally based Engineering and Product Manager recruiter for the Seattle office, and it was an incredible experience getting to help the office grow from ~40 people when I joined to 150 in two years.

Q: Have you had transformational or inspirational moments at Dropbox? (e.g., career change, promotion, opportunities to explore and develop new ideas, moved to a new office, etc.)

A: I’ve had two incredible transformational moments at Dropbox. The first is getting the opportunity to move from university recruiting to owning recruiting for the Seattle office. The second is this recent transition to the HRBP team. You’re not going to find many places that are willing to take a bet on their people and are equally invested in setting them up for success. It’s that combination of encouragement plus thoughtful follow through that is so Dropboxy.

Q: What are your hobbies? Or what can we find you doing outside of work?

Elaine’s DIY knitted socks

A: Two big hobbies of mine are cooking/baking and knitting! I started knitting socks this year, probably because Seattle is cold for most of the year. Now my friends are up to their ears in gifted socks. A recent baking obsession is working with laminated dough — think croissants, kouign-amman, etc. I have foisted more than my fair share of lumpy pastries on the Seattle office.

(left) Elaine’s homemade croissants (right) Elaine and friend holding their 18-hour carnitas

Q: Any accomplishments you’re proud of outside of work?

A: I just completed my first relay marathon with four other Dropboxers! We named our team DBX Pandas and came in fourth place!

Team DBX Pandas at the Tacoma Ultra Relay Marathon

Q: Why did you decide to join Dropbox?

A: This is an easy one — it’s the people. My first impression of Dropbox is a place where people take their work very seriously, but not themselves.

Q: What surprised you most about Dropbox when you joined?

A: How accessible the leadership team was to everyone. I love that Arash, one of the co-founders walks around the office and wants to know what’s top of mind for folks.

Q: What does creative energy mean to you?

A: It means being in a flow where time just disappears.

Q: How do you unleash your creative energy in your day?

A: At Dropbox, I get to do that differently every day. For Hack Week one year, I drew everyone’s spirit Pokemon in the Seattle office. One week it meant planning out an enneagram training for managers.

Elaine’s Drawings of Seattle Dropboxers’s Spirit Pokemon

Q: What does AAPI month mean to you?

A: It is the celebration and recognition of the historical and ongoing individual and shared experiences of those who identify and/or has been identified as Asian/Asian American or Pacific Islander.

Q: Are there any present-day inspirational Asian or Pacific Islanders in your life?

A: My parents inspire me every day. My mom is the first entrepreneur I ever met. While my dad was in the US studying for his masters and working two part time jobs, my mom sold Shanghainese pork buns on the back of her bike and her knitting to local stores all while holding down a full time job and her family. I find so much strength and learning in their stories.

Elaine’s parents

Q: This year, Asians@ chose the theme “I am ______“. What word or phrase do you fill in the blank with?

A: I am my communities. We all belong to multiple communities, and I am the intersectionality of those multitudes.

Dropbox Seattle celebrating the Lunar New Year

Q: Can you tell us about your background (upbringing, ethnicity, etc.)?

A: I was born in Shanghai under the one-child policy and immigrated to the U.S. when I was seven. I’ve lived in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and now Washington. I was fortunate to have parents that pushed for me to stay connected to my Chinese roots. Every summer, from age 10–14, I was given a chance to live in Shanghai with my grandparents and learn Mandarin and Chinese history.

Check back soon to meet more Dropboxers. In the meantime visit us at dropbox.com/jobs. Dropbox is growing, grow with us!

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