New York City, United States

Interviewing the Up and Coming at Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global

September 9, 2009

Diversity training is a two-way street

Meet Vitaliy Vysotskiy.
Education: A PhD in Applied Mathematics.
Experience: Over ten years as a statistician and researcher.
Immigrated from: Russia.
First job in the US: Part-time attendant at the local laundromat.

Meet Clara Ines Tures.
Education: Degree in Law, Diploma in International Law & Human Rights.
Experience: Three years as an attorney with the Ministry of Education.
Immigrated from: Columbia.
First job in the US: Part time Spanish tutor.

Frequently, even a professional education and previous experience are just not enough to transition professional immigrants into the local work force.

The reason? A lack of local networks, a resume that looks unfamiliar, or cultural differences that interfere with first impressions in a job interview and create barriers for even the most motivated and qualified new immigrant.

The result? Candidates like Vitaliy and Clara may end up taking jobs for which they are highly overqualified, thus depriving themselves, their families and their new communities of the full contribution they could be making.

Breaking the cycle

The longer a new immigrant is employed at work unrelated to their professional background, the more difficult it becomes to transition back into a professional track, or the position level their skills deserve.

This spiral of wasted talent is what Upwardly Global is working to prevent. Upwardly Global is a nonprofit organization in New York City that is taking a two-pronged approach to the problem. Upwardly Global works directly with highly skilled immigrants to help them reclaim their careers as well as with employers seeking to leverage the diversity of this new talent pool. Upwardly Global provides both employers and employees with the tools needed to create a more inclusive – and effective- employment market.

The Upwardly Global Approach

Waspada Peranginangin (JPMorgan Chase case study).

Waspada Peranginangin (JPMorgan Chase case study)

Upwardly Global has designed a practical program that enables immigrant professionals in financial services, consulting, engineering, healthcare and business to understand how to adapt and to ultimately succeed at securing a professional job in the United States.

The program is free and involves: advice on writing resume and cover letters, workshops in American such as job search strategies and interviewing skills. Through Upwardly Global, new immigrants also receive introductions to American professionals in their sector so that they can start building their personal networks.

For Vitaliy Vysotskiy, it was these personal relationships that ultimately helped him leave behind his time at the Laundromat and return to his work in applied mathematics. He recalls, “I received tremendous help from Upwardly Global. They gave me a lot of attention: they essentially improved the quality of my professional resume, helped me create cover letters, and gave good training and advice for interviews by meetings, phone and e-mail. My Upwardly Global mentor, Rishi Diwan, introduced me other professionals in my area and according to this acquaintance I found a professional job.” Today Vitaliy is a software engineer with Hyperion Solutions Corporation.

Clara’s success story is similar.  Through an informational interview with Diana Otero, an Upwardly Global alumi, (one of the strengths of the Upwardly Global program is their success with encouraging past participants to stay involved through the Alumni Club), Clara began a volunteer assignment with Catholic Charities in San Francisco.  This eventually became a paid position as an immigration advocate working with refugees, many from Latin America.

In addition to helping individuals like Clara and Vitaliy, Upwardly Global also works towards systemic change by helping business appreciate the bottom line benefits of a diversified workforce. Upwardly Global provides companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Google and Deloitte with the strategic tools and advice to enable them to not only recruit but also retain highly qualified foreign born talent.

Members of Upwardly Global’s Employer Network receive handpicked candidates relevant to their needs and can also access a database of qualified Jobseekers. Upwardly Global has also developed interactive workshops and an employer tool kit to help them understand how to maximize the unique insight and business potential and value of foreign trained professional. This includes understanding how to contextualise and evaluate resumes with foreign trained education, skills and experience, insight into conducting culturally sensitive interviews


Upwardly Global’s story is as inspiring as that of their candidates. After leaving her full-time job in a national refugee settlement agency, the founder, Jane Leu began Upwardly Global at her kitchen table and with a borrowed laptop. Her vision was to prevent professional immigrants from being trapped by short-term solutions on the margins of mainstream employment.

By 2006, Upwardly Global was serving the entire NY metropolitan area, including the 5 boroughs, New Jersey and Connecticut. Today Upwardly Global has offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.


To date, Upwardly Global has coached jobseekers from more than 94 countries and developed ongoing relationships with more than 70 employers.

Upwardly Global’s Interactive Cross Cultural Interviewing Tool has received international recognition for its ability to help users recognize how cultural differences can result in misunderstandings and suggests specific behavior to improve how candidates from different cultures are interviewed.

Upwardly Global’s dual approach to changing the experience of immigrant professionals has been recognised with numerous awards including: Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Spelman College, Legacy of Leadership Bridge-Builder Award in 2007, The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2006, the Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneur Award in 2004 as well as the HR Symposium, Partners in Innovation Award in 2004. Their success has also been featured in numerous media outlets including CNN News, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal.

Story Update:

Congratulations! Upwardly Global has just been recognized by the Migration Policy Institute as one of the 2010 Winners of the E Pluribus Unum Awards.  The E Pluribus Unum Awards were established to recognise initiatives working to strengthen the relationship between native and foreign born Americans in order to create stronger and more supportive communities.

Making it Work for You:

  • Communications skills are essential for immigrants entering the job market; they are also essential to HR professionals tapping into the international talent pool
  • Don't let cultural differences or misunderstanding prevent you from identifying skills you need to get the job done
  • Upwardly Global's success is the result of an approach that combines advocacy with the practical tools to support change
  • View all past program participants as valuable ambassadors for your message - find formal and informal ways to keep them involved and continuing to support the work of your organisation