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Recognizing Asians and Pacific Islanders by Edison

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by Myrna Aquitania

Jannelle So

Jannelle So

On Friday, May 3, 2013 the Southern California Edison (SCE) held a luncheon at the SCE Education Center in Irwindale, California to celebrate the 8th Annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This annual event was started by SCE in 2006 to recognize the accomplishments of AAPI businesses, their contributions to economic growth and their commitment to being energy efficient. This was a way to “show appreciation to our customers, business partners and community organizations and to “recognize the achievements and contributions of diverse Asian American leaders in the community.”

“SCE takes pride

in cultivating relationships with diverse business customers and community organizations on energy conservation , supporting our local communities, and working towards a better environment,” said Lisa Cagnolatti, SCE’s Vice President, Business Customer Division. “We are pleased to recognize the positive contributions made by Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations and businesses in our service territory.”

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via a 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000 square-mile service within Central, Coastal and Southern California. Among its diversity facts include SCE spending over “$1.5 billion during 2012 with suppliers owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans – 38.2 percent of all such spending.”

Keynote speaker was Jagjeet S. Bindra, a member of  the board of directors of Edison International and SCE, and a recognized leader in the South Asian American community. He is the founding chairman of the board of directors of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a nonprofit organization “dedicated to supporting issues affecting the South Asian American community.” He gave insights on his experiences as an immigrant from a poor family in India, who came to the US to pursue his education. Through his perseverance and tenacity in acquiring a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, he was relentless. He broke the glass ceiling at his former executive job in Chevron and he went on to pursue further studies in Project Management, a career where he knew he belonged, and when it was time to move up in his career path, he was always guided by his belief that “people shouldn’t judge you by the color of your skin, but by what you can bring to the table.”    .

Following are his seven guidelines to success:

  1. Treat everyone with respect. In his successful 32 years at Chevron, he made sure “people always came first, and success followed;”
  2. Conduct yourself in the highest ethics and credibility to live by in order to gain people’s confidence in you;
  3. Try to correlate with the mainstream in order to share your knowledge relevant to theirs;
  4. Dream the impossible dream and overcome the obstacles that hinder you from pursuing it;
  5. If you are blessed with the knowledge to be a mentor, share it with people who need your help;
  6. Don’t compromise your principles just to avoid conflict; value it in order to be happy;
  7. Finally, dedicate yourself to continued learning, for knowledge is the key to success.

This year, through SCE’s theme of “celebrating business and community partnerships, they honored companies that are “energy-efficient champions.” Companies who were honored were:  IMPEX Inc., Park Avenue Chinese Cuisine, Apex Computer Systems, Inc. and the Samoan National Nurses Association (SNNA).

IMPEX Inc.USA,  a privately-owned wholesale fitness equipment company was founded by James Chung. SCE honored IMPEX, Inc with the Energy Efficiency Participation Award for their reputation as a “leading supplier of high profile fitness brands in the United States.” IMPEX Inc.’s most popular-branded products such as  Marcy, Adidas and Hers can be found throughout leading sporting goods stores in the US. Last year, IMPEX purchased a 180,000 square foot facility in Pomona, California and they participated in SCE’s energy efficiency program, “where they retrofitted existing warehouse lighting, saving the company 362,000 kilowatt hours annually.”

Another Energy Efficiency Participation Award was also given to Park Avenue Chinese Cuisine, which is owned and managed by Andy Lee., who immigrated to the United States in 1988. Last year, Mr. Lee opened his 7,000 square foot restaurant in Arcadia, the Park Avenue Chinese Cuisine.Through a partnership with SCE, Mr. Lee participated in “an energy efficiency program where he replaced halogen lamps with LED lamps throughout the establishment. This resulted in a significant reduction in the energy bill and a savings of 45,000 kilowatt hours annually. “

The Diverse Business Enterprise Award was given by SCE to Apex Computer Systems, Inc. Apex was founded by C. Phillip Chen, Ph.D., a scientist with an entrepreneurial vision, “to help companies grow by leveraging informative technology (IT). Today, Apex is a nationwide service organization headquartered in Cerritos, California, that provides high quality, cost-effective technology solutions to clients ranging from small, local businesses to Fortune 500 companies.” In its commitment to serve the community, in 1999 Dr. Chen gathered a “group of IT elites in Southern California and established a year long mentoring program to help Asian IT profesisonals face corporate challenges. In 2003, Dr. Chen and the program mentors founded the Asian American Professional Association to further extend their mentoring services to the rest of the Asian community.”

SCE’s Community Partnership Award was given to the Samoan National Nurses Association (SNNA) , which was established in Carson, California in 1996 as a way to “educate and advocate for the Samoan community, specifically on health disparities plaguing a growing population in Southern California. SNNA works to improve and expand the community’s access to quality health services, local and national policy advocacy, community organizing and community-based research. Currently, SNNA is in partnership with SCE on a project aimed at creating policies toward providing a safer environment  for the elderly.”

Emceed by topnotched FilipinoTV host/producer Janelle So of “Kababayan LA” fame, in a stunning Filipino fashion statement wearing a subdued beige and dark pink panuelo, Janelle was the perfect emcee for the event. In her closing remarks, Janelle acknowledged the event sponsorships of the American Red Cross, Caterer Panda Inn and the AAPIHM Committee, volunteers and exhibitors.

Finally, according to Ted Craver, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, their operating priority is: “diversity is an integral part of of our identity as a company. Its about empowering people and promoting the human spirit. Its about capitalizing on the strength of everyone around you.”

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