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Before I began my journey with Genesys, I was emotionally vulnerable. As a woman of color in the male-dominated IT world, my previous work experiences had been filled with microaggressions; limited support from my senior leadership and ignored accomplishments were the norm. I walked on eggshells and worked to conform to what was considered norms of the IT industry, stifling my innate leadership abilities.
I was saddled with feedback that I was “too passionate,” “not technical enough” and “always trying to move too fast…” — or, for some executives — “not moving fast enough.” So, I joined Genesys less than confident because of conflicting feedback and frustration of being in a cultural mismatch for too long. However, I knew personal development was required for me to reach my professional goals. My mentor presented with the perfect program to facilitate my learning in a challenging yet supportive environment.
When I joined Genesys, one of my main requests was that the company sponsor my participation in the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) leadership EMERGE Academy. Participating in EMERGE was on my career development plan and I wanted to ensure that this new partnership with Genesys continued to move me toward that goal.
Guidance to Seek, Study and Soar
Data shows that Blacks are underrepresented in IT and STEM-related fields, often because of perception — not performance. While metrics around minority representation in IT are slowly changing for the better, recognition of African American women leaders continues to lag. Many women in management positions still struggle to take the next step into upper executive roles.
EMERGE is a program by name and a journey by experience. It’s structured into three parts: Seek, Study and Soar. During the “Seek” stage, I was taken on an expedition of personal and internal growth — finding and redefining my voice, increasing my level of confidence when sharing ideas and leading my team, and learning how to contribute to work that allows me to be more authentic — without the fear of retribution and being “different.” In “Study,” I learned how other leaders manage through a crisis, empower others, and how to use my own energy to improve working relationships. The “Soar” phase is a comprehensive approach for using all the tools that I’ve learned about myself and others to show up differently.
Most importantly, EMERGE is a sisterhood of 30 women of color who encourage, offer resources and give feedback. During the 12-month program, the pandemic occurred and forced many of us to work from home. Homeschooling children became the new norm; several members experienced family sicknesses and deaths; some experienced layoffs. Weekly meetings and check-ins have been essential in keeping me on track with the assignments and book readings — and have created a network that’s been vital in my growth as a person and my evolution to become a more effective leader.
Thanks to EMERGE, I’m on a path to create a specific long-term development plan and continue practicing all that was presented to me in the past year.
Shaping Future Leaders
EMERGE has been instrumental in helping me heal, grow and find my place in the world. I have a very clear vision with a multi-year strategy for myself, my family and my Genesys team. Here are a few useful tools EMERGE has given me that I take into my work each day at Genesys:
Every day, we’re charged to live out the motto: Lift as we climb. My experience with EMERGE has been transformational, life changing and empowering. I’m thankful to be a part of an organization like Genesys that invests in the development of its employees with programs like ITSMF EMERGE Academy. And I’m humbled to be a graduate of the ITSMF EMERGE Academy Class of 2020 — 2020 Vision.
I look forward to a long-term partnership and collaboration with Genesys leadership so that I can continue to invest in ITSMF — and help shape great leaders in the future.
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