The effects of climate change have been front-page news lately. Are you currently accelerating any eco-centric innovations?
The environmental benefit is a huge part of why we’re working with molded fiber. HP’s 3D printing technology is enabling an entirely new way to make custom packaging that’s cost-effective, fast to produce, and eco-friendly. It minimizes single-use plastics by replacing them with something that is completely biodegradable. Molded fiber pulp can be made of anything — newspaper, bamboo, jute. That’s the cool thing about it.
You’ve been working in Silicon Valley for over 30 years. What changes have you seen in the culture?
I’ve seen the culture change in good ways and bad. For some people, it's just about the money and I think that’s unhealthy. I always thought it was about creating, inventing, and solving big problems that have an impact on the world. Of course there are financial rewards that come with that, but that wasn’t the only point. A positive thing that I’ve seen is more and more people are coming into entrepreneurship because the cost of creating a new business has gone down. It’s much easier to start a business than it ever was. I love that there’s this tremendous energy to become an entrepreneur, to create and build something.
And a lot of those new entrepreneurs represent a wider variety of backgrounds. What do you think about the recent DEI efforts that have been implemented to benefit those rising entrepreneurs?
Candidly, I think there’s a long way to go. I don’t think we in Silicon Valley look hard enough to find the talent or do nearly enough to nurture it and bring the best out of it. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that talent doesn’t care what you look like or where you come from. It’s equally sprinkled around every community. Silicon Valley still has this idea of the “superhero,” “the genius.” That, I think, has been negative for women, minorities, and foreigners because there’s a picture of what that person looks like, and it isn’t us. At HP, there are genuine efforts to improve things, but it’s slow. Change is slow.
Does the Sikh concept Chardi Kala, or “eternal optimism,” affect how you view that change? What impact does it have on your work and your daily life?
Literally, it means “rising spirit” — keep your spirit positive and optimistic. I think that’s especially important when bad things happen. It makes you look for the positive, for the opportunity. When Asian hate crimes were happening, I was going: “What can we do to support? What can we do to help?” I started thinking that maybe that’s where the “optimism” comes in. These experiences can make Asian groups better connected to each other, where they weren’t as connected before.
I had incidents in San Francisco after 9/11 when I had a lot of stuff said to me in elevators or while I was walking around downtown. Many of these people had never interacted with a Sikh before. I thought maybe that’s the opportunity — for them to remember how I reacted to that barb or offensive comment. Maybe that will create a positive impression of what they think of Sikhs.
There’s always challenges. You turn them into positive energy. You turn them into things you can focus on that are helpful and that move things forward.