Eliza Rhee, Technical Architect, on bringing Pridebox to NYC and what Pride Month means to her

Eliza after ringing the opening bell on NASDAQ with Pridebox

For this year’s Pride Month, we are illuminating and celebrating the LGBTQ experience by sharing Dropboxers’ personal stories. Everyone’s story and identity evolve together over time, a mixture of both their innate genetic makeup and experiences. The fond memories and formative moments we hold onto as part of our history inform who we are and who we strive to be. With that in mind, Pridebox, our LGBTQ employee resource group, chose the theme “Connecting our History with our Future.” In celebration of Pride month, we’ll be featuring Dropboxers and sharing their stories that connect their past to present.

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

A: My name is Eliza Rhee. I’m based in the NYC office, and I’ve worked at Dropbox for a little over two years.

Q: What is your current role at Dropbox? Explain as if you’re telling a child.

A: I’m a technical architect with the Customer Success Team. I help our customers realize the value of Dropbox Business with technical advisement and support. As a team, we often help our customers with deployment, adoption and enablement, data migrations, and integrations.

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

A: I’m really proud to have established Pridebox at the NYC office along with another colleague.

Q: When did you do this? What was the impact?

A: I joined the NYC office in late 2015. New York is an incredibly diverse city, so I was a little surprised that Pridebox didn’t have a presence here. We developed programming and events aligned with our HQ in San Francisco. People from the LGBT tech community weren’t even really aware that Dropbox had an office in NYC. Today, we are part of a growing network of visible, LGBT-friendly tech companies here.

Dropbox New York office decor during Pride Month

Q: Have you had transformational or inspirational moments at Dropbox?

A: Coming to Dropbox on its own has been transformational for my career. I’ve learned so much about the business. But what I love the most is that I get to bring a little bit of the personal by getting involved with Pridebox. Recently, I had the opportunity to represent Pridebox at a Nasdaq conference. We got to help ring the market bell along with other corporate LGBT-identified leaders! That opportunity led to Pridebox getting invited back to ring the opening bell during Pride Month.

(left) Nasdaq & Out & Equal conference (right) Ringing the opening bell with Pridebox.

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

A: Looking for a new physical challenge! I have a love affair with winter in the mountains. If I’m not skiing then I’m hiking in snow. There’s just something about the snow crunching beneath my feet that takes me to my happy place.

(left) Eliza’s home away from home Jackson Hole, Wyoming (right) Hiking the Bridger-Teton National Forest

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

A: I’m a co-director for KQTcon, a small, volunteer-driven, grassroots collective of LGBTQ Korean Americans whose dream was to hold a national conference for LGBTQ folks of Korean descent and their allies. We just pulled off a very successful inaugural event. Nearly 200 people traveled from around the world to attend, even though we were working with a shoestring budget and a six-month timeline. It was the most challenging project of my life.

KQTcon group photo with some of the organizers, volunteers and attendees

Q: What is something interesting about you that not a lot of people know?

A: I’m a Poongmul drummer! Poongmul is a traditional form of Korean drumming that has strong roots in Korean farming culture. But it was also used in the late 1960s and 1970s for political protest during the pro-democracy movement. Today, it’s mostly recognized as performance art. I do it because it’s an expression of my pride as an LGBT person of Korean heritage. I co-led an LGBT drumming team here in NYC, and we won an award at NYC’s Heritage of Pride Parade in 2017 for best performance by a music ensemble!

Poongmul Movement Builders waiting to march at Heritage of Pride, NYC 2017

Q: Why did you decide to join Dropbox?

A: I first entered the job market just as the AIDS crisis peaked in the U.S. It was not a good time to be out at work. Fast forward to life after marriage equality passed. While I was searching for my next career move, I remember landing on Dropbox’s most recent blog post about Pridebox, an employee resource group for Dropboxers. And I remember thinking to myself was, “If I get an offer from Dropbox, I’m coming out.” So while, yes, the opportunity to work for a pre-IPO tech company for a pioneering team was incredibly exciting, I was equally excited by the idea of following through with my promise to myself.

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

A: The people I work with at Dropbox genuinely want to help you succeed and go out of their way to make you feel like you belong. Maybe the nature of our business naturally attracts certain thoughtful and supportive types. But I’ve worked with many teams in my career in the same area, and none of them can hold a candle to the one I belong to now.

Customer Success Team 2017

Q: What does “creative energy” mean to you?

A: Creative energy to me means never having to go from Point A to Point B in a straight line. The hope is to discover something different or new or completely unexpected. It’s what makes my work fun and exciting.

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

A: Listening to other people’s stories, whether at work or in my personal life, is my number one source of inspiration.

Q: What does Pride Month mean to you?

A: Pride Month means I get to celebrate the intersection of my ethnic heritage and my LGBTQ identity to near exhaustion. We live our lives as authentically as possible every day, but it’s a month when we can rejoice collectively across the nation.

Q: Are there any present-day inspirational LGBTQ figures in your life?

A: So many of my heroes have already passed — Edie Windsor, Sylvia Rivera, and Leslie Feinberg. But when I seek inspiration, I think about the LGBT community members who have supported me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

Q: This year’s theme is Connecting Our History With our Future. Can you share a memory from your past that holds significance to you as part of your process of forming your identity, a memory that stands out when you think of your younger self?

A: I came out in college to a small, largely white, bar-hopping LGBT community in Baltimore, and I felt I had to behave a particular way and distance myself from my Korean heritage. It took me years to figure out how to navigate the intersectionality of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race.

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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