News + Ideas

MGAC Inner Voices: Episode 5


MGAC Inner Voices is an interview format podcast where a diverse mix of employees are interviewed to share their perspective on challenges they have faced in the A/E/C industry as a result of their identity—including race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. By discussing the experiences of our staff, our hope is that their stories will have newfound and powerful resonance with the audience—both to comfort others in similar situations and to encourage those in positions of power to bring about positive, actionable changes to workplace environments for all A/E/C professionals, regardless of their identity.

Bryan Gamez (MGAC Assistant Project Manager, Los Angeles) sits down with Uzair Faruqui (MGAC Senior Project Manager, Los Angeles) to discuss the importance of representation in the built environment, normalizing hard conversations, and making space for all voices to be heard.


Bryan: Hi, and welcome to another episode of "MGAC Inner Voices." A podcast digging into issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and the architecture, engineering, construction industry. As I've noted before, we wanna preface this podcast by letting you know that we are not experts in all things diversity, equity, and inclusion. We wanna share our stories and discuss how together we can create better outcomes for all of us in the AEC industry and beyond.

I'm Bryan Gamez, project manager at MGAC working and living in Los Angeles, California. And today I have the great privilege of speaking with Uzair Faruqui. He has been working alongside me for the past year and a half, but I'd like to let him introduce himself.

Uzair: Thanks, Bryan. I'm Uzair Faruqui, I've been with MGAC for about three and a half actually coming up on four years. I'm a Senior Project Manager. I'm also based in Los Angeles and my professional background. I studied civil and structural engineering at the University of Southern California. While I was in school, I actually was hired as an intern by a construction company here in Los Angeles same one that Bryan used to work at prior to him coming over from USC.

So, MATT Construction hired me as an intern and I was an intern for about 18 months through one summer. And then all through the next school year, which was my junior year. I was an onsite intern at the Natural History Museum project between the summer of my junior year and my senior year. I went up to Oregon and worked for Hoffman Construction, which is another general contractor, a pretty large general contractor in the Portland area. They're pretty well known in the Pacific Northwest.

I came back and this is 2009 when I came back to USC for my senior year and the recession was in full swing. And my intern position, at the general contractor, that project was still ongoing it was about a five or six-year multi-phase project, had been filled with a full-time employee. So I went over to the adjacent trailer which was occupied by the owner representative which was a company called Cordell Corporation. It was a two-man operation at the time with a president and kind of an administrative coordinator.

And I went over and I said to this gentleman, his name is Don Webb. And so I just popped into his trailer one day and he waved me, he was on a phone call. He said, "Hold on, I wanted to talk to you." And he finished up his phone call and he called me in and in so many words he says, "They can't hire you, next door. They can't take on any interns because of the recession. Why don't you come work for me instead?" So I started by filing papers, filing RFIs, submittals, reviewing pay applications. And slowly ended up becoming partners with this gentleman. And stayed with them for about six years on side of the Natural History Museum, management my whole general contracting company, and that's essentially where I cut my teeth.

I did a quick stint at another project management firm for about three years doing facility master planning. And healthcare-related strategic planning for the repositioning of hospitals. So it really taught me about the front-end of projects, which I wasn't as used to rather than the actual construction design side of it. And then I joined MGAC, probably about 2016. And I've been there ever since.

Bryan: I did not know that you had been managing the Natural History Project. So it's interesting.

Uzair: Yeah, it was a pretty fun gig. I mean, that project went for five to six years. We touched every single part of that museum. There was every type of project within that project that you could imagine. There was landscaping, exhibit fabrication, exhibit design, seismic retrofit, MEP upgrades. We did a new central plant, administrative offices, we built a parking garage. I mean, you name it, we did it on that campus, and was a pretty fun project and we capped it off with a $13 million glass pavilion.

Bryan: Beautiful.

Uzair: And there's a whale skeleton which is hanging in that pavilion with an LED backdrop and ceiling. So that was kind of like the jewel box at the end. And there was a big party in 2013 when the Natural History Museum celebrated its centennial. It had been open for 100 years at that point.

Bryan: And to all our listeners, if you ever had the chance you should visit this beautiful jewel box in Los Angeles. So Uzair can you please tell us more about your identity and your background?

Uzair: Yeah, sure. So I am Pakistani-American. My parents...I was born and raised in the U.S., but my parents are Pakistani, both of them. I grew up traveling back to Pakistan every winter for about, like, the first seven, eight years of my life. And then it came to every other summer for like the next couple years. And then it was like every four summers.

So you know, being Pakistan is part of my identity. I did grow up in a fairly, I would say, like, an upper-middle-class suburb of Portland, Oregon. And I'd say Portland is not really well known for its diversity. So I was one of probably four like I just say brown, but brown kids in my high school. You know, it's the majority of, you know, white kids. We had a handful of Korean kids, we have a small Korean population in Oregon.

But yeah, in terms of, you know, being, you know, our color, there was only a handful of or us. But yeah, being Pakistani was a large part of my identity. But, you know, Portland's a fairly, fairly friendly place, and even the suburbs, they were fairly nice to me growing up.

Bryan: Right, I understand what you're saying. I mean, I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, with fairly a white population but being Latino you know, there's a handful of brown kids that are out in the suburbs. But still friendly, but they're still, you know, sort of an impact, to who I become as a person being in that environment. How do you think that your identity has affected you in a professional setting, Uzair?

Uzair: Yeah, I mean, I think it's interesting, you know, when I first started as an intern at the general contractor, I don't think it was very common for the construction team, especially the superintendents to be working with somebody of non-American or non-Caucasian.

So I think, you know, the majority of the trades at the time, and the majority of the management on site. And, you know, my first couple months at a construction site, were in a trailer at another museum. And, you know, our onsite staff was mostly American. We had one Latino project...we had two Latino project engineers, but you know, the superintendents were both, you know, white. And, of course, the field team was, you know, a mix between white, Latino, and a little bit of African-American.

So I think it was interesting for them, to see a brown kid in the office. And, you know, one of the things which I think is interesting is that you know, Pakistanis can come in a range of different colors. We can come in light, we can come in dark. I have fairly dark skin. Part of that is because we live in Southern California, and I love being in the sun. So I think I, you know, stand out as a darker person. But yeah, I think it was interesting and that was the first push of non-white people managing the project.

And I was kind of like the first generation of non-Caucasians managing projects. And I think that you know, Latinos had kind of come into that role a couple of years, five years before me, maybe five years before I started to. And now you see, the whole industry has completely shifted, and there's people of all colors and genders and, you know, identities in project management and being in the trailer.

Bryan: Yeah, and I think a part of that has to be with more people pursuing careers in the industry. And I have to agree with you that there are more and more handful of people of color in the industry. But I still think that we have a long ways to go in terms of diversity in this industry in and of itself.

Uzair: But I think, you know, part of the reason why the shift hadn't fully taken place was, if you look at, let's just take Pakistani, Indian, Asian-Americans, for example. Into you know, they typically immigrated and there, you know, we're usually first or second generation. So our parents typically come with a technical background, but a lot of us have technical backgrounds. For instance, like, there's a lot of engineers who are Pakistani, or there's a lot of Asian-American engineers. And as a result, they stayed in their engineering fields.

I was raised. And this is just a fun anecdote. Both, my grandfathers were civil engineers, my dad was an industrial system and mechanical engineer, and I'm, you know, I studied civil engineering. So I was raised and had kind of an engineering background, always, you know, the little bit of engineering influence is always going on. But when I went to school, you know, I was accepted and pushed into other paths other than being a designer, being a civil and structural engineer, being an MEP designer.

And so I think that that shift in the generation with, you know, you have a little bit of technical background. Your parents have some sort of technical job or had some sort of technical skill. And that gave me the option that I could go into the design side. Or I could also go into the project management side. And I think that's kind of how the generation has shifted.

Bryan: That's so interesting Uzair you kind of just gave me an aha moment just for myself. I, you know, thinking back to your point, that first-generation Indian-Americans or Pakistani-Americans they have that more technical background. But now as we're approaching, you know, younger generations having that eye for design. There's always the traditional sense that you have to commit to a traditional role. But I like that you're speaking about this, you know, pursuing this other path that you might have not taken.

Uzair: Yeah, I think it's easy to take somebody who's 35-years-old, who's lived in India, or Pakistan, or Asia their whole life and they emigrated to the U.S. And say, "Yeah, we'll put you in a position where you're working in a very technical single function kind of role." I'm not saying that there aren't people who broke out of that role. I mean, there's so many amazing engineers who have flourished when there are so open to that situation, and they just, push their boundaries aside.

But I think it's, you know, not only is there this role, but then you can start... You need to start construction earlier in your life, you can't really jump into it. And so I think, you know, having a technical background allowed me to slip into it and slip into the product management side.

Bryan: Right. Well, speaking of your background, how do you, I think that you've ever had to adapt who you are as a person in the workplace, have you ever seen or experienced that with other people?

Uzair: You know, I've been very fortunate. And, you know, I totally understand that I, you know, being Asian-American being Pakistani-American actually comes with a bit of privilege. And having studied engineering, and being able to say that and let people understand that that's where you're coming from. And that's what your background is, actually gives you a little bit of a boost up. And, you know, people sometimes think I'm smarter than I am. Just based on, you know, what their presumptions about me and my background are, you know.

So I think that that's not really hurt me too much. I am very fortunate I've never experienced discrimination in the workplace, with my clients, with my contractors with architects. I think that's also part of the factor of doing the majority of my work in Southern California, where it's a very accepting geographical location.

Bryan: You're right, I think we do live in a part of the nation that is exceptionally diverse, in terms of the cultures here. And that allows us to flourish I mean, I think it's allowed me to flourish. I think well, I've, worked in, I would...this is what I would say that we work in a predominantly white male industry. But the fact that we live in Southern California, that it's so I would say it's liberal. A lot of diverse cultures that is allowed me to flourish and it's nice to hear that it's also allowed you to flourish.

Uzair: I think that's, you know, part of the thing, which was so fun, especially in the year that, you know, I graduated in 2009, our class was extremely diverse. There were quite a few women, especially amongst the sub engineering, tracks. And civil engineering, I feel like civil and environmental engineering had a lot of women compared to the others. And there's a pretty wide ethnic diversity. We had good diversity from the get-go. And I think that what's awesome is that the companies that came to our career fairs were agnostic and very impartial to the people that they were hired. They just wanted to grab some of the best talents regardless of who it was.

And I think that was fun that, you know, we had my intern class at that general contractor had, I think, two or three women. And actually, I think our intern group, who was headed by a project engineer, or a senior project engineer, from that company, who kind of like, you know, oversaw. And like, you know, took us out for the cultural side of the company and really recruited us to stay at the company. She was a woman who is, you know, probably graduated like a couple of years before us.

Bryan: To your point, I think that I've been blessed that I haven't really also experienced discrimination. You know, with MATT Construction, the previous company that I worked with, they embraced, my background, they embraced my perspective. And I think that's what at USC, we've been blessed that companies are there looking for the best talent. And that's quite... It's just about talent.

Uzair: Yeah. And I think it's just really fortunate of, you know, living in this part of the country.

Bryan: Yeah, I mean, I think it's. I hope that people who are listening have that, the same experiences in their part of the country. But I do know that in some parts of this, the United States, it's not a reality for all. So I wanna segue into why diversity, equity, and inclusion is important in the workplace. Do you think it adds value?

Uzair: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think that you have to understand everybody's perspective. And especially when we're building spaces, right, everybody looks at a place differently, everybody experiences everything differently. And, frankly, we are building facilities and offices and homes and institutions for, you know, all of the public. So we need to be able to represent and make sure that we are speaking to all people. And I think that's part of the fun part about our jobs. And especially, I've been fortunate to work on lots of facilities, which are at the institutional level, that they attract a diverse user group. And so, therefore, we have to make sure we're including all opinions, all thoughts, into all factors of how we do our work.

Bryan: I mean, I think usually that's a point that I keep coming back to with other guests, you know, this is a tangible environment. We have a tangible job, the built environment is not just for one specific group of individuals or demographic. But, we're building for a public space, especially as we move forward as a society. So I mean, I wanna ask you, how has your perspective been able to inform projects, how has it informed you professionally?

Uzair: Right. I mean, I think directly do I bring a lot to the table as a Pakistani-American as somebody who's raised Muslim? Yeah, there's little bits of elements here and there. We have a corporate client who has a Muslim-based spiritual room in all of their facilities. Or they have a spiritual room, but they make sure to include a specific element geared towards Muslim individuals to perform their prayers. But like, that's pretty much all you can bring, there's not a whole lot of like, things that we need to plan around for the South Asian community for the Muslim community, nothing too crazy.

But I think, what the important thing I bring is that I understand what it is to be different. And I understand that there are other perspectives, right? So you don''s not my direct experience, which is influencing, but it's my ability to pause, understand and say, "Well, why don't we check out other perspectives? Why don't we make sure that you know, we're thinking about this specific user group or that specific user group?" And just giving the ability to put a pause and a thought to some of the processes is what I feel like I actually bring rather than anything direct.

Bryan: Do you think that in the architecture industry or the AEC industry here in America, that we should be thinking about other religions? What are your thoughts about the built environment and religion, diversity when it comes to that?

Uzair: I mean, I think it's one of the beauties of LA, right is that there's every single kind of person in Los Angeles, and so we're so fortunate to live in such an environment. And it's just something which I think it's important to think about, even if the implementation doesn't require a whole lot. And it's nice to see that you get thought about and that there's an effort that's been pushed.

Bryan: Great.

Uzair: So it's, I think it's just, you know, that level of okay, you know, maybe there isn't anything specific we need to know. But if there's like a nod or an understanding or something, which you can see through the work, I think that makes people feel like they're heard they're seen.

Bryan: That touches upon questions about where you see the AEC industry in 10 years' time. That idea of, you know, what will spaces look like in 10 years with a more diverse group of people at the helm of projects?

Uzair: Yeah, I know that's a really, really interesting question. Luckily, I'm not an architect, so I don't have to think about how to include it.

Bryan: But we are the owner's representative though, Uzair.

Uzair: I don't actually have to think about it myself and plan for it. I see things becoming more agnostic, actually, and more impartial rather than somebody specific, right. You know, I think that there was a lot of things that you know, for example, people would say, like prayer room, or you know, and that's quickly changed to spiritual room. You're talking about restrooms and how to set that up so everybody is comfortable. Like, you know, there's a client of ours who has a male and female locker room, and, you know, how do we try to do that?

And so I think, bringing in that agnostic added piece to the project. Or basically saying, you know, I'm not saying that we're gonna do away with gendered restrooms or anything like that, but I think that I think it's normalizing things. Normalizing the fact that there's single-stall restrooms throughout a building, or, you know, adjacent to every single one. And, you know, it doesn't need to be labeled as such for a specific purpose. Normalizing that there is a quiet room, and you can go and choose to do whatever you want in that quiet room. Which helps you get in touch with yourself or relax or find your moment. But I think instead of moving to specificity, I think it's moving to inclusion.

Bryan: Absolutely. I was gonna say, I think that it's moving towards more inclusivity. The nomenclature of these spaces, it should open the door for the inclusion of people who don't identify with what, you know, the traditional sense of, I don't know a male or female restroom. As a cisgender gay male, I think about my counterparts here in the LGBTQ community, who may see a male restroom, but not feel comfortable going into something that's labeled as such. I think in 10 years' time, I hope that how we converse now is going to be the way program is set in architectural spaces and whatnot.

Uzair: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, I definitely think like, the more that you talk about it, the more into the quicker it becomes normalized. And I think it's awesome that, you know, some of our clients who have, you know, those amenities, such as a gym, such as a changing room, such as you know. That they are providing, you know, additional spaces for someone who doesn't wanna use the male restroom or the female restroom and is providing the same type of space for anyone to use.

Bryan: Yeah. And I think having, even just making that effort and in the design process is even momentous. It's creating a world of change for everyone.

Uzair: And it is a cost decision, right? Do we want to have single occupancies? Or do we not? And there's like, now they just go in. And it's great to have clients who do that kind of thing.

Bryan: You're absolutely right, that that's a great point Uzair. I wanna segue into clients and the industry as a whole. So as project managers, you know, part of our job is to help advise clients, you know, developing the project teams, and creating more equitable spaces, as we've just discussed. What are some ways that our AEC industry can impact change through our work? I know, we've already touched upon a little bit a few of these topics but...

Uzair: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest things is that you know, when we're fortunate enough to go into an area where we have the ability to hire. You know, we have the ability, and MGAC does a great job of this. They're agnostic on that person's race, gender, you know, how they identify themselves, all of that. And I think that's, you know, pretty amazing as a company. And I think that's what needs to happen more in the AEC community.

For instance, let's take a look at you know, people coming up out of college, right. And so you have your career fairs at, you know, the USC and UCLA, but you know, there's so much talent coming out of the CSU system and the Cal State system. And I know that Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo push out tons of great engineers. But there's's just interesting how much, you know, there's more diversity in the colleges, there's more diversity in the non-private schools. And you see the market, you see people identifying that. And you see the companies identifying that there's talent out there. And they're gonna go and get that talent because it can come in any form.

But I think, you know, the key ways in the AEC community of like, how we can change the work is just making it a normal part of our conversation. Making sure that everybody has heard, making sure that we are making space for those who may sometimes be spoken over to speak. Or to make sure that everybody's getting a chance to provide their input. I think that's one of the best parts about our job, especially because we're often looked to as a kind of like, pulling in all the information from everybody. And just making sure that everybody has an equal voice and really, you know, commanding the table in a fair way and making sure that all voices are being heard.

Bryan: Yeah, I think that at MGAC, at least in our projects, my projects, that's an important task that we take seriously. We wanna ensure that everyone has a voice at the table. We wanna be fair, because you are right we're facilitating information. We are there to ensure that the project is running smoothly, but also that everyone's voices are gonna be heard. What do you think about clients who aren't uncomfortable with diversity? Have you ever run into that?

Uzair: I really haven't. I think I've been super, super fortunate. And I think, you know, luckily, my background it's hospitals. We have a corporate client, who I work closely with. And then its developers I think it's great that people who come to MGAC, people who come to project managers who can actually influence decisions. They're at that point where they don't really care where that help comes from, as long as we help them finish their project on time. Take care of them, take care of their project, it doesn't matter to them, what race you are, how you identify, and so forth, I think. And again, this is coming from me, like I said, a pretty privileged place as a male, Asian-American.

Bryan: What do you say to people who have faced that? Do you think there's ways to the measures that other our co-workers who do face that they can take to make sure that the current client isn't uncomfortable with diversity. Because I know, I've spoken to a few women who sometimes have to face that, that we as men don't.

Uzair: I think it's always showing up as a team. And I always try to work so all of our partners are heard. We've been lucky that you know, some of my team members on specific projects here in Los Angeles, and for some other clients as well have been women. And are, frankly, more talented, more persistent, more aggressive than I am. And so you allow them space, and you back them up, to do it.

So I think the key is, open the door because you know, that they can say it encourages them to say the word so that they start building that confidence. And again, it kind of goes back to seeing a third restroom door, or, you know, whatever. The more that spring is hearing that their voice is allowed to be heard and that it is being heard. And that they have to be you know, to speak, the more they speak, the more they speak with competence.

And so I think, allowing for those opportunities, and I think that goes with, you know, whether it's you know, a person of color, whether it's a person of a different gender. Or it just goes across the board of or even somebody who is, you know, junior, you give them the space to grow. And you have to acknowledge that this is the point for them to talk out. You need to help them be comfortable with having their voice heard.

Bryan: I mean, I think that resonates with me. I mean, I would say that I'm a junior staff member. Well, not totally junior, but that's allowing me to grow. And I think and I'm thankful for the senior project managers and executives that I've worked under that have let me do that. So and also ladies and gentlemen, we are listening from Uzair, who is also very, very persistent. So, do you have any advice for any people who wanna join AEC, but they think they may face discrimination because of the idea that you know, the AEC industry is dominated by white older men?

Uzair: Yeah. I would say be patient and know that the industry is going through a colossal shift. And know that your place is that you know, it's so funny. It's a generational thing, right? And you have to see that this old school mentality of a, you know, white male-dominated construction industry or AEC industry is turning. And so what would I say to somebody who feels that they're of a minority? I'd say come, just come join it, come get in there. Because your voice is heard amongst your, you know, it might not be at the top generation, but I'd say people who are in their 30s, in their 40s now. Even in that's the other thing is that the construction, the AEC industry like it is super adaptable, we've had to adapt all over the place.

And so I wouldn't even say that there's this stigma anymore. That, you know, I think that people are realizing that their junior team members. And people coming up now and people who are in the industry are, you know, not of the same race and gender, of who they used to be. And that's who they have to work with. And I think they adapt. I mean, I think people think that we're a little stiff and, you know, old school. But I really think that construction and engineering and architecture, is full of innovators and people who are adaptable, and you have to shift. You have to shift all the time.

Bryan: I mean, quite frankly, I think it has to do with a lot of, you know, the younger generation millennials, who, you know, aren't as fearful you know, they have no fear. I think you're like you said jump right in and I think and trust yourself, have confidence in yourself. And you're gonna continue pushing boundaries, pushing yourself to the limits. And I mean, both of us can speak from experience, right? Is there I mean, I speak from I thought I was fearful going into construction that. And, you know, I've, unfortunately, had some experiences where, you know, I have faced discrimination, but I've overcome them. And I think that younger generations should stay true to who they are, just remain confident, and don't have that fear. Because that's gonna prevent you from growing.

Uzair: Yeah. And the truth is, you know, when I don't wanna say, pull your weight. But when you show that you're competent, and you show that you are gonna persevere, people acknowledge that they move on, right?

Bryan: If you were starting your own company, Uzair how would you ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, were essential to the company's values?

Uzair: I don't know if I'm ready to start my own company yet. But you know, like somebody is, you know, at first they did it, right? At first, they just made sure it was a diverse environment. And I think, you know, I mean, credit goes to MATT credit goes to the executive staff that they hire, whomever they see fit and who will be a successful leader. And I think it's interesting that the company's helped so many people together, who are all individual leaders, you know. And I think that's, you know, one of the tough things about MGAC is, you know, how do we, you know, align so many people who are strong, passionate, intelligent, but I think this is the key, right?

MGAC just made themselves a diverse company, based on their fundamentals. They said, "We're gonna go hire the best people, whoever they are. We're gonna make sure that they feel comfortable in the environment that we provide for them." And they just did it. And then they take the next step. And they said, "Okay, we're gonna start a diversity inclusion podcast, and we're going to really go forward." And what was heard? "Yes, do it let's." How can we bolster and solidify something that we are already doing? I thought that that was an amazing step.

And I think some people might think it's unnecessary, but again, it's normalizing the conversation. And it may not be required within MGAC. But it may be helpful to normalize the conversation, as, you know, throughout the AEC. And, you know, perhaps, that can influence others, and help to make this normal topic for discussion.

Bryan: Yeah, and I mean, I would say that you know, I do think that MGAC is taking all the proper steps, or the necessary steps to highlight diversity and equity and inclusion, by hiring more diverse groups of people. And they're taking those steps. But I also would like to see, and this is coming from me personally Uzair, at the executive level people who, you know, identify as either with a minority group, for me, it would be an LGBTQ female, male. It could be for a previous guess, it could be a black female, black male because those are what leave lasting impacts, to younger generations. I know for myself, I've never seen an LGBTQ executive in our roles. So that leaves a lasting impression.

Uzair: Now, there are a few on our architecture side that I can immediately go back to actually.

Bryan: And I think that's great. I think that's great that the conversation is stretching into the other sectors. So then this is a tough question. How can least I think so. How can you increase diversity and representation while avoiding tokenization?

Uzair: Well, that is tough. But I think one of the keys is that you have to focus on changing yourself internally. And battling your own internal biases that you may have, whether they're intentional or unintentional. And most of the time, they're unintentional biases. And making sure you're approaching your situation and you know, realizing that you may live in this place of your inherent biases.

You start to acknowledge that you have your intentional, unintentional biases, and you work to combat those and really put yourself in the diagnostic position. I think that goes external. And that's avoiding tokenization, right? You're just looking at everything in as much of an unbiased field as you can. It's not something you can do externally, it's something you have to do internally.

Bryan: That's absolutely true. I struggle with that question because I've thought to myself, how do you avoid tokenization? And I've never really been asked that question, but I was thinking it all it all really for me, at least it was about intention. You just have to the intention behind diversity and representation has to come from a good place. Not just to, like the previous guest has said meeting quotas and whatnot and it's true you shouldn't do. You should not put someone in a position because of a quota or a number because it's not a statistic.

Uzair: Right. And like, you know, let's go to different college graduates, we don't have to go to the USCs and UCLAs, we don't have to even go to the Cal colleges. So let's go to CSUs. So let's go to, you know, sort of community colleges. So let's go wherever we can to see where we can find everybody. And I think that's an external effort which you can make is that you're gonna find some very talented people out there. And I know a lot of discussions around hiring talent. But I think, you know, that's kind of immediately where the mind goes.

Bryan: Absolutely. For your co-workers who have never experienced or haven't had a personal experience and discrimination as a result of their identity. What advice would you give them to be an ally?

Uzair: I think one of the key things is having everybody, you know, examine their own biases that they may have. And I think that was actually extremely successful over the summer during the Black Lives Matter movement. And I thought that it was actually really incredible in, you know, again, this city in our age range where people were reexamining things, as they had seen them their entire life. And I think that you know, when you've encouraged people to question and view from other perspectives, it really allows them to do that self-work, to understand things from somebody else's perspective. But it's, again, it's one of those things where it's, you know, you have to help them focus themselves inward, and really let them do the work on their own. So you have to help them, you have to help guide them to it.

You need to talk and share examples, about things that have happened in your life. Things that you've seen happen to other people, things that they may have done or said which may not have been comfortable for you. If you can bring those examples, then you hopefully can move them to a place where they understand where you're coming from and things that other people might be doing.

Bryan: Yeah, I agree. And I think and right now, the case in point here with this podcast we're helping others view our perspectives. They're listening to our stories. And with that, Uzair I thank you so much. This has been actually...this has been a great conversation with you.

Uzair: Great.

Bryan: Thank you for joining. Thank you for listening to this episode at "MGAC Inner Voices." Check back next month for our next episode.

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