The daughters of Chinese immigrants, twin sisters Judy and Jenny Tat, ’14, know firsthand the benefits of embracing diversity and pressing ahead.

From a very early age, they navigated diversity issues. Jenny recalls translating English for family members in her hometown of Richmond.

“We were open about diversity and resources that were available to me and my family, so that really ingrained in me a love of diversity and inclusion,” she said.

Add to that interest their need for speed, and the result is a whirlwind college experience and job offers before graduation.

“We just knew we wanted to hit the ground running and graduate earlier,” Jenny said. “We’ve always just wanted to run.”

Both majoring in business administration, Judy worked summer jobs related to diversity initiatives; Jenny interned in a corporate human resources department. And, they served as volunteers at the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Richmond, which promotes supplier diversity.

The sisters expanded their diversity of experience by studying abroad. In fall 2012, they studied at the University of Hong Kong, where they could speak Cantonese, their first language. They spent fall 2013, the last semester of their college careers, at Singapore Management University (SMU), a new Richmond partner institution.

“As Asia continues to grow in economic and political importance and power, it is vital that students have the opportunity to gain experience there,” said Dr. Tom Cossé, associate dean for international business programs. “SMU offers students the opportunity to study at a world-class business school in a unique country with a highly diverse population.”  

When SMU teamed with Barclays, a banking and financial services company, to offer the SMU/Barclays Diversity & Inclusion Business Challenge, the Tat sisters dashed toward the opportunity.

They competed against 26 other student teams to develop proposals for increasing diversity and inclusion in a fictitious Asian bank. The two-stage process included a video proposal and a 15-minute finalist presentation. The Tat sisters were the only exchange student team to ascend to the finals of the business challenge.

Their winning proposal involved a three-pronged approach that aligned strategy, processes, and performance around diversity and inclusion.

“The more I travel and the more people I interact with, I realize how important diversity is in terms of how you communicate effectively to someone, how you understand their values and beliefs,” Judy said. “Often times culture is the underlying factor that determines everything.”

Both sisters plan to continue working in fields or places that require significant cross-cultural understanding. Judy will stay in Singapore where she has accepted a position as an international sales and marketing associate with the Washington, D.C.-based Advisory Board Company, and Jenny will work as a human resources manager for Target Corporation in the United States.

Photo: Judy (left) and Jenny Tat (right) in Singapore.