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Not everyone takes a traditional or linear career path to success. Yet, each of our backgrounds, work experiences and education contribute to the overall work culture. And that diversity of experience creates a richer work environment that fosters each individual’s unique talents and abilities. When looking back on the foundation and journey of my career, I recognize that not only does my experience as a single mother create the inspiration to go down this path, but it also shows how important and rewarding it is to have leaders that lift up others.
One of the main characteristics of a leader who lifts others up is being self-aware and prioritizing personal development. Self-aware leaders focus on recruiting and developing a team with diverse skills and backgrounds. Then they give their teams the tools and development needed to grow into their careers.
My path to Sales Training Manager at Genesys wasn’t traditional but my experience and dedication to learning have added to the richness of the One Genesys culture. I began my journey with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Alabama State University. After graduation, I held many roles as an employee of the State of Indiana — from a Corrections Officer, a Family Case Manager, a Disability Claims Adjudicator, and Probation Officer.
In all these roles, I was happy to do whatever was needed to take care of my son and pay the bills. I worked hard and continued to excel in my job so I could move to the next level. And I had the desire to help people in need. But I began to aspire to greater heights, which led me to enroll in — and complete — a master’s program focusing on Human Resources Management.
Now, equipped with two degrees, I was confident and determined to implement a personal mission and vision to excel. I applied for several HR and leadership roles, but hit roadblocks on my mission for growth, often clashing with people who wanted to tell me what my mission should be — not where I felt I should go. These weren’t leaders who lifted me up.
After three years of remaining focused and resilient, I met with the Director of Talent Acquisition at Genesys, who offered me my first corporate job. She opened the door for me knowing that I had bigger goals in my career. She mentored and coached me, preparing me for the next level. I’m grateful she saw my transferable skills and took a chance on me — a key characteristic of an ally.
When I had the opportunity to join the Sales Enablement team, I was nervous to transition. I had a great leader who consistently helped with my professional development and who had been a true ally in my journey. I questioned why I would leave such a good situation. But I overcame my fears and focused on my mission for growth; I moved into the new role with a desire to excel. And that’s exactly what I did.
As I continued to progress in my career, I was fortunate to have other mentors who saw my potential. I obtained several certifications, including Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belts; I also became a certified corporate trainer and co-chair of GBEAM, the Genesys Black Employee and Allies Inclusion Group.
All the roles I’ve had throughout the years fuel my passion to help make a difference in the lives of others. That’s why it’s so important to have managers who understand personal development and can provide opportunities for growth — especially to underrepresented groups.
Applying for a new job or switching careers isn’t easy. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to gain experience. I encourage everyone to seek the resources available online to understand your transferrable skills. Understand the difference between hard skills that are quantifiable and soft skills that are transferrable. Then learn how these resources align with your needs to achieve your goals.
I hope my career path can be an inspiration to others, including my son Avery. I hope to inspire others to overcome any setbacks in their lives — big or small — to achieve greater things. Everyone has a gift to give to the world. They just need someone to give them the opportunity to showcase it.
My career journey into tech breaks most of the outdated myths that you must come from a STEM background. I’m certainly not the first or last person who found a home in tech from a nontraditional background. Don’t let apprehension stop you from reaching for more — and encourage others to believe in themselves and go after what they want. I stopped saying I can’t and started saying I could.
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