At Box, we make giving back a priority. To structure our efforts to give back, we have established a few community focus areas: Digital Transformation, Diverse Tech Pipelines and, last but not least, Being a Good Neighbor. Every quarter, we celebrate those Boxers that 10x their impact on the community by naming one significantly good neighbor our Boxer for Good. Our Q1 Boxer for Good, Pou Dimitrijevich, tells us about her background and how it has shaped her philanthropic endeavors of today:
Thanks for speaking about the experiences that led you to becoming a Boxer for Good! Let’s start from the top - tell us about yourself and what you do at Box.
I am of Samoan and Yugoslavian descent. My parents met where many immigrants meet: Los Angeles, CA. After marrying they moved back to my mother’s village Salelologa, Savaii, where they had me. And after a couple years on the island they decided to immigrate back to the US to give my siblings and I better educational opportunities.
I was raised all over Southern California, from Orange County to the Coachella Valley. Moving around a lot shaped the way I interacted with people. Even though I’m more introverted, as the perpetual new kid, I had to step outside my comfort zone to make friends. I come from a big family. I am the third eldest of eight kids; the first person to graduate college; and the first person in both my immediate and extended family to earn a salaried income.
I always like to start with sharing my cultural and social background as it’s largely shaped the way I view philanthropy and community service.
At Box, I lead a team of product designers on Admin Experience and Adoption. I find the best part of my job is working cross-functionally, collaborating with engineers, sales and product partners to come up with the best possible solution.
Tell us about what kind of volunteer work you have been involved in lately. What led you to that?
In high school I was part of Upward Bound, a federally funded educational program that helps first-generation college students prepare for admissions. The program was instrumental in shaping the way I viewed higher education. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for the staff and programming of UB.
I try to pay it forward. Over the last five years I have spent a lot of my free time to working with organizations similar to UB, that support under-served students in K-12; programs like Interact Project and 826 Valencia. As much as I love working with students in the classroom, I also try to make it a point to support the operations and governance side of an organization.
When people think about community service, they often think of the external-facing roles–serving food to the homeless, tutoring after school programs, etc. In my experience, internal volunteer roles like fundraising, organizing, and facilitating, roles that don’t have as much external facing visibility, often have the most impact.
Currently, I am volunteering with the Asian and Pacific Islander ERC at Box. As a Samoan woman working in tech, representation is so important. Pacific Islanders make up less than 1% of the total US population. Because our community is so small and the API umbrella is so large, I often feel that I have to be an ambassador for my culture. Our narrative often gets lost or is misrepresented, and that can be harmful to our communities.
Are there any funds or initiatives at Box that you would like to highlight so that Boxers and non-Boxers alike can learn more?
Support our ERCs! So much thought and planning goes into these events. In addition to learning something new, there is an opportunity to connect with people outside your team and/or domain.
In terms of external organizations: Interact Project, 826 Valencia and Creative Reaction Lab, Meals-on-Wheels, Glide and Compass. In tech, our first mistake is that when we see a problem, we ask “how can we solve it?” But there’s so many organizations that are already doing that work. Your dollar can go much farther if you’re donating or supporting those organizations.
How would you recommend others get involved in volunteering?
Find something that is meaningful to you. Starting there will help ensure that you stick to it. A lot of nonprofits deal with the thrash of volunteers coming in and out. If you can be someone that’s reliable to them, that’s huge.