How do you identify?
I am Filipino, first generation American. One of my endearing qualities is my self-deprecating humor. When I describe myself, I often joke I have three strikes because I'm gay, female and Filipino. But my colleagues and friends say: No, they’re not strikes, they’re three great things about you.
What was your path to get to Twist?
I've been in a support role for 20 years. When I graduated from college, I applied at a biotech company, thinking I would be in a lab, maybe mixing reagents. But the HR person saw I had worked in retail to pay my way through college and asked if I liked working with people. It really intrigued me, and I'm glad he questioned me about it, because I do like interacting with people.
Do you enjoy your job in customer service?
I have always been in a service-related role. You can make an impact in one person’s day, and I know that will resonate and hopefully drive a decision to come back. People can buy DNA from lots of different places, so we need to win in our interactions.
What was your initial impression of Twist?
I remember going to the interview at Twist and talking to four or five different people. I knew one of them from a past life, and he really made me comfortable. Everyone had great things to say about Twist, and he made a special effort to find the CEO just to say goodbye to me.
I thought that was a big thing; I don't usually meet the CEO at my first interview. She said she had heard about me, and I thought: Oh-my-gosh, how? It didn't occur to me that the CEO would care about candidates coming in to interview, so that made me feel really important.
I struggle with my identity for interviews, because I look spot-on gay, or I could pass as a straight male because of my short hair. I never know how to dress. I don't want to feminize myself, but I also don’t want the interviewer to feel uncomfortable. But I felt, why not? I'm into bow ties, I’ll wear a bow tie.
I wear those ties all the time, and it puts a smile on people’s faces. People compliment me on the different styles and patterns and how I tie them. I never feel like I am out of place, or that I can't wear them, which is great. I never feel like I have to compromise my identity in any way. I can just be myself at Twist.
Tell me about your family.
I have kind of a blended family. I got married to my wife during the winter of love (I can't believe it's been fifteen years since Gavin Newson was the Mayor of San Francisco). We're raising our niece, who came into our family about three years ago. She is graduating this year from eighth grade.
I can remember talking to the CEO and the head of HR about raising my niece and how the benefits work. We're her guardians now, and I don't know how all this logistical stuff works. I talked to Emily about it during one of the sales meetings. It was early days, and we were having lunch. I was talking about how I had to go to court, and she was really supportive. I thought, why am I talking to the CEO about this? It was just really easy.