Profiles in Diversity Journal Fourth Quarter Magazine 2021

Page 58

BL A C K

2021

Senior Director, Global Marketing

LEADERS Worth Watching

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Education: Master of Business Administration, Emory University, Goizueta Business School; Bachelor of Science, electrical engineering, Florida A&M University Company Name: Harman International Industry: Consumer Electronics Company CEO: Michael Mauser Company Headquarters Location: Stamford, Connecticut Number of Employees: 30,000 Words you live by: Don’t talk about it, be about it. Who is your personal hero? My father What book are you reading? No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer What was your first job? Intern at the Arkansas Department of Health Favorite charity: Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Interests: Sneakers, writing, and bourbon Family: Wife (Whitney) and daughter (Sloan)

You Are the Unique Gift You Must Bring Admittedly, the best piece of advice I ever received sounded trite, cliché, and frankly, unusable the first 100 times I heard it. It was “bring your whole self to work.” I, like many other underrepresented minorities, entered the workforce wearing the entire weight of race like an Eastpak backpack, and feeling like any misstep could prevent others like me from ascending in their careers. I altered my vocabulary, my attire, and my general demeanor to best mirror those of my counterparts. At the end of every workday, I would unzip my professional shell, fold it neatly, and place it in the passenger seat of the car, while turning up the volume on whatever track was aiding my cultural recovery at the time. After more than two years of doing

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this, the excitement of “making it” had worn off. I had underestimated the energy required to make this transition five days out of the week. That shell became harder and harder to carry, let alone to put on and remove every day. It was then that I received an interpretation of that advice that would alter my professional trajectory by providing some perspective that I sorely needed. Sure, “bring your whole self to work” was just a saying by a retired P&G engineer, but I was reminded that “my whole self” was more than my language, fashion choices, and opinions about golf. My “self” was actually a collection of every experience that had shaped my view of the world. While I was always acutely aware that my life experiences were vastly

different from those of most of the people I wandered the daily cubicle maze with, I had failed to realize the value of the unique perspective those experiences had etched into my mind and how, in turn, the biggest value I could add was to infuse my work with those experiences, instead of trying to keep them from spilling over into the conference room. That advice allowed me to reclaim the energy I was using for reinvention and refocus it on helping any organization I joined understand more about the pockets of culture that helped mold me and many others like me. This is now the advice I offer to young employees looking to leave their mark on an organization. It is not only okay, it is required that you bring your whole self to any team you join.

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AWARD

Michael Craig