Young Professionals Celebrate World Heritage Week with a Panel Discussion

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By Emily Brooks

As part of Global Philadelphia Association’s World Heritage Week celebration, GPA hosted a diverse group of young professionals to talk about their career paths and how important it is to think globally. This virtual event not only served as a networking opportunity for the youth of Philadelphia, but it also showcased the international career opportunities Philadelphia has to offer. 

The panel featured the following professionals: Layla El Tannir, the Director of Business Development for Reading Terminal Market, Laura Joy Stansbury, Audit Senior Manager at Deloitte, Divy Agnihotri, Legal Consultant for GPA, Akansha Chauhan, GPA’s Events Coordinator, Jeremy Goodman, GPA’s Education Fellow, Aaron Stoyack, Historic Commission Secretary for Upper Uwchlan Township, and Gary Wooten, GPA’s Program Coordinator. 

Wooten started off the event by having each panelist introduce themselves and answer a series of questions about how their careers connect to the international world. During the discussion, the panelists touched on many topics such as how they got started in their careers, the importance of global awareness and making global connections in their work, and how to further get involved in the city. 

During their introductions, the panelists described their connections to Philadelphia. For many, higher education in Philadelphia is what attracted them to the region, however the international connections available in the city is what made them stay. For instance, both Stansbury and Wooten moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and Tannir attended Drexel University. Once there, they discovered the international component of the city, often through their work with GPA. 

“[GPA] really opened my eyes to international activity in the city as well as ways that maybe we could connect the city with communities abroad,” said Tannir, explaining how her co-op work with GPA impacted her while attending Drexel. This unique perspective has benefited her in her career, as she often uses it to meet the needs of different Philadelphia communities at the Reading Terminal Market. 

Since each panelist has taken different career paths, they all went on to describe how they first started their careers and how they gained international experience. For Stansbury, she got her start through an internship with Deloitte during her undergraduate time at Temple. She has been working there ever since, and through their global development program, she worked abroad in London for two years. While overseas, she gained valuable experience interacting with different cultures and learned important lessons on international business etiquette, such as treating others with respect and learning from her surrounding peers. 

This element of learning from other cultures was very present at the start of Agnihotri’s career, who also pursued work abroad during his undergraduate career. As a child of Indian parents, he was interested in working with the Indian parliament, and has used what he called “the power of email” to pursue that goal. Just by emailing several representatives from his parents’ native region, he landed an internship with a local minister. 

“[My internship] exposed me to a different system of governance, different issues faced by the country. And more importantly, I was exposed to a different culture,” commented Agnihotri. Upon moving to Philadelphia, Agnihotri understood the importance of this cultural exposure and wanted to continue making connections. “My goal was to join an organization that was connected to various aspects of the city. And I knew that's exactly what GPA was,” he said. 

Agnihotri’s experience was very similar to Wooten’s, as he stated, “the best way to kind of get involved in the international market is to make connections at an organization that has international partners.” Through his work as GPA’s program coordinator, he has made such connections with many international communities in Philadelphia, utilizing the cultural awareness he has learned through his global studies at Temple. 

Many of the panelists also mentioned the importance of cultural awareness and immersing yourself in different cultures in their careers. For example, Chauhan advised the audience to always be ready to learn something new from others and has enjoyed meeting globally connected people, bringing it into her work towards web accessibility. 

“It may be that you go to Germany to the beer fest in October, Oktoberfest, and drink some beers and understand German culture that way; and maybe going to the 1000s of museums in Philadelphia, learning about science and British history,” said Goodman. For him, being a global citizen can come in many different forms. For his grandfather, it meant learning 12 languages and reading newspapers from around the world. “It just matters that you're doing something to be a global citizen.”

One panelist, Stoyack, has seldom traveled internationally, however has been to the 48 continental states. He stated that “through my travels, I realized that global heritage and culture is present everywhere. Even if you never leave the country for an extended period of time, you will encounter and interact with people from all over the world, especially if you go looking for them.” This cultural awareness has been essential in his work with museums, as he aims to highlight other communities.

The panelists celebrated World Heritage Week by sharing with incoming professionals how important it is to be a global citizen and how to navigate the beginning of their careers. This September, GPA will also be hosting the World Heritage City Celebration, which recognizes Philadelphia for the global importance of its history and culture. This celebration is another opportunity for young professionals to connect with one another as either a guest or co-chair. If you would like to learn more about how to participate, contact Gary Wooten at [email protected]. In addition, GPA is always looking for interns and applications can be found on GPA’s website. 

To hear more about their stories, watch the recap linked here:

Business and Commerce
Community Development
Emerging International Journalists Program