Alumni on the Move - October 2017

Barney Herrera Navigation, Class of 2014

Barney Herrera

Navigation, Class of 2014

I've been working at Boeing, but recently took a position with the Seattle Credit Union as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships.

As VP of Strategic Partnerships, my mission is to identify organizations in the community that would make strong partners for Seattle Credit Union – partners like the City of Seattle, El Centro de la Raza, or any of the many other Select Employer Groups the Business Development team has worked hard to cultivate.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union, now known as Seattle Credit Union, has not only gone through a name change but also a shift in mission and vision. The credit union has focused on serving the unbanked and the underserved, which include immigrant communities. The opportunity to not only help the Seattle Credit Union meet its mission and vision but also create positive change in the lives of the people in need was too promising to pass up.  Although I didn’t need to move companies, this job allows me to combine my passion for community development and creative solutions to some very real problems.

My biggest success, thus far, is transitioning from an everyday job to a passion. I was always told that once you find a job loving what you do, you will never work another day in your life.  I honestly believe I have found that here and am ready to build something special. My biggest failure is not finding it sooner! Not to be too cliché, but certainly, believe that everything does happen for a reason and in its own time.

I look forward to getting to know the myriad community and business leaders here in Seattle in an effort to identify and secure new partnerships. I’m especially passionate about supporting our immigrant and refugee communities, as my parents are first-generation immigrants from the Philippines. I watched them overcome many challenges to provide me opportunities – opportunities Seattle Credit Union can help provide to many families. Personally, I am inspired every day by my wife and kids. They push me to be a better person, my wife supports me at every turn and my boys are a joy to be with when they aren't driving us nuts ;)

My advice for those starting out early in their career is to master the transferable skills needed to do your current job and then don’t get comfortable and seek the next challenge. I often see too many young people jump from job-to-job without learning a thing from their previous position. Not taking the time to master those skills that you can take with you, is really doing yourself a disservice. It means that you aren’t growing at a rate that is sustainable. When you claim certain experiences on your resume, future employers will have an expectation of your capabilities. Once you try to fake that, your “Personal Brand” and reputation will suffer and your chances of accelerating and moving up may diminish severely.  So before moving on to a new job, make sure you learn and take important skills from your position in order to add to your toolbox of skills.

Journey of Three - Christina Lee

Christina and her classmates take a tour of Daimler Trucks North America post-session.

Christina and her classmates take a tour of Daimler Trucks North America post-session.

During last month’s session on "The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback" with Steve Hanamura, I was surprised with how many of my peers said they struggle with effectively providing constructive feedback when it involves negative news. I honestly did not realize it was that common and have always figured it was something I tend to struggle with primarily due to my extreme aversion to conflict. Ironically, I appreciate and prefer getting honest feedback from others, even if it’s hard to hear, because I know where I stand and what I’m doing well and what I can improve on.  It’s not as helpful if someone tells me I’m doing a great job all of the time, even when I’m not, because I don’t know how they honestly feel. Despite this, I still struggle with providing truthful feedback to other people if it’s not positive. I worry about offending others and want to avoid the uncomfortable-ness of potential conflict or retaliation.

On the other end of the spectrum, although I prefer receiving honest feedback, I sometimes take too much of it to heart, thinking I need to change everything that was just mentioned to me, so I don’t disappoint the person who just provided feedback to me. I also sometimes jump to conclusions without really making sure I understand what the person is saying.

In order to help address both giving and receiving feedback, Steve provided us with five skills for communicating with others. The fifth skill on the list was giving and receiving feedback.  However, in order to effectively do that we need to use the other four skills which include paraphrasing, behavior description, feeling description/expression, and perception check. When broken down in this way, providing and receiving feedback seems less daunting and more manageable. In the weeks since our training, I’ve practiced using these skills in various situations and found them to be useful and effective. To be completely honest I’ve had the most practice using this at home with my children, where it seems more comfortable and “safe” to try it, but as it becomes more natural, I know it will be easier to apply more consistently at work as well. I’ve practiced paraphrasing (after listening to both content and feeling) to try and make sure I understand what the other person is saying. Behavior description where I purely describe the behavior I saw has been extremely useful with my children, especially when following it with the description of the feelings it caused in me.  I can see how this will be effective at work too.  Perception check has also been helpful when trying to check if my perception of the situation is accurate since the other person can answer that with a yes or no.

As far as addressing my fear of conflict when providing feedback, Steve provided a quote from Robert Frost that really resonated with me: “The only way out of conflict is through it”.  He also suggested asking yourself what the worst thing is that could happen from providing someone with that feedback. Reminding myself of both of those things will continue to be a tremendous help in dealing with potential conflict that might result from giving truthful feedback.

Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Katherine and her classmates, April (L) and Yumiko (R), are ready for the EDI session!

Katherine and her classmates, April (L) and Yumiko (R), are ready for the EDI session!

The ability to give and receive feedback is not easy to master, regardless of the environment. Giving your mom feedback about how her beef noodle soup could have used a bit more salt is just as challenging as giving your boss feedback in regards to how he handled himself during a review meeting. While most understand how powerful the impact of feedback is in the workplace, the comfort level in approaching and delivering feedback can deter even the most confident and outspoken individuals.

During our most recent session titled "Powerful Feedback", Anh Vo gave an useful perspective on how to give and handle feedback. I distinctly remember getting feedback that left me confused. “Why did she just tell me that?” “What did he really mean?” “Oh I get it, she doesn’t like me.” These are just a few of the thoughts I've had when approached with feedback from others with little to no structure on the specific feedback. Getting feedback like that can be very frustrating and leave an overall negative impression. I appreciated Anh going over the types of feedback: Evaluative, Interpretive, Supportive, Probing and Understanding. That was when the light bulb went off in my head that feedback is not criticism! Asking for feedback can put a lot of pressure on people as they don’t feel it is appropriate to criticize others, however that isn’t what the intent of feedback is! The intent and impact of feedback is to motivate, enhance morale, increase performance, and produce better results.

The group was given the opportunity to practice how to give and receive feedback during our afternoon session through role-playing specific workplace scenarios. I felt the role-playing really helped myself and others become more comfortable about how to read and understand a situation before addressing the feedback that is needed. Anh really stressed the importance of giving feedback to be behaviorally specific, be aware of the impact, make the intentions clear and ask for what you want and need. It was very interesting for the group to practice both sides, it really brought perspective.

I appreciated the fact that the more effective you are at giving feedback, the better it will be received. Knowing that really helps me want to be more open to giving feedback to others besides my peers and manager. At work, my leadership is often looking for feedback and doesn’t usually receive it directly from the source. It is often brought up to them from the specific individuals’ manager. After attending Anh’s session, I will work to continue on being more direct in giving feedback personally to my leadership. The value from the feedback coming from the source is extremely powerful. A person who can take time out of their day to give feedback shows their dedication for their job and those who influence it!

Alumni on the Move - September 2017

Mark Martinez Hispanic Discovery, Class of 2013

Mark Martinez

Hispanic Discovery, Class of 2013

Mark Martinez recently stepped into a new role at ProAmpac as a CPA in Cost Accounting. 

Moving to ProAmpac was a big career step for me. Both in how I’m moving into management and, in a mid-size company like this, I’ll have a much greater personal impact on the business. It’s quite humbling having this kind of responsibility. So far, I’ve only had good successes. I left Boeing on good terms with my manager and teammates, the people at ProAmpac are welcoming and wonderful to work with, and my new team is very supportive as I learn the business. It’s not without its challenges though. I’m learning a new business, new systems, and processes while having to make decisions and drive the business.

There have been several people who’ve made this decision and transition easier.  Professionally, I received guidance from my mentors, senior co-workers, and my recruiter. My wife and family have kept me grounded at home. Their support is invaluable. I’d encourage anyone to thinking about taking the next step in their career to go for it. There will most certainly be challenges, but you prepare for and grow from them. I am glad to be part of the ProAmpac team, knowing that the work I do helps ensure the success and livelihood of all the other employees I work with.

Journey of Three - Stefanel Castro

Stefanel (R) pose

Along this journey I’ve shared many of my “aha!”… “oooh”… “aaaah” moments, but let me talk to you today about this biggest one yet…Speak to Persuade.

When I heard that our session’s name was “Speak to Persuade”, I was excited for what was coming. You see, my father – who is one of my greatest inspirations and role models – has worked on all aspects of the entertainment business for my entire life. Talk show, radio, and MCing is his forte and oh, is he good! I grew up observing and unintentionally learning how to paint pictures with words, improvise, feed off a crowd, come up with quick, witty responses, etc…in essence, how to talk my way into a desired state. As far as I knew, I was a decent public speaker and crafty persuader.

We were given 4 very simple questions. Three of these questions are part of our EDI introduction, so we say them every time we meet. We were recorded answering these 4 VERY SIMPLE questions, and then we played back the recording to assess how we did. I’ll tell you that I was disappointed at what I saw on screen. For context, the session was going great! I had been exercising my natural (inherited/learned) public speaking skills comfortably – cracking jokes and engaging in the discussion – yet what came through when I stood up to answer those questions was stiffness, over-analysis, and even defensiveness. My lively personality did not come through at all and it was not anything I said; the content was good. So…"what happened?", you may ask. My body language and tone of voice exhibited a persona that is not me. Our facilitator, Vanna Novak, looked at me and said, “I lost your personality…you were lost in your head.” Wow! This clicked in a profound way. In an instant, I started to think back at specific instances where I’ve given presentations or had to speak in public or to large groups. I was able to identify that sometimes I want to articulate ideas and thoughts so eloquently that I overthink. I was taken back to occasions where, as I talk, I am searching for fancy words to embellish my speech and end up awkwardly pausing with, I imagine, a confused look on my face until catching my train of thought. I now recognize that, in those moments, my audience did not capture the message as I intended to deliver it because I was not projecting what I wanted.  

Self-reflection on my previous experiences brought me to a bigger conclusion about public speaking and speaking to persuade. EDI’s backbone to leadership development is defined by three letters – A, E, I. Let’s talk about “A”. “A” is for authentic – a leadership characteristic that is very important to me. Whenever I don’t allow my personality to come through, it's because I’m trying to be “Mr. Eloquence” and I lose some of my authenticity. I am serious, driven, and passionate, but at the same time, I’m good humored and goofy. These sides ARE part of the PROFESSIONAL in me and need to co-exist in harmony. It does when I’m not putting extra effort into thinking about the correctness of my words; I am the most impactful because I am most comfortable, engaging, and, more importantly, genuine. I will end this with a thought/reminder mainly for myself, but I won’t be offended if you use it too: Big words don’t get the job done, connecting with people does.

Journey of Three - Christina Lee

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So many things spoke to me during our Speak to Persuade session with Vanna Novak that I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I was nervous about presenting to my peers, even though it was on a subject of my choice and for a duration of only about 30 seconds. On top of that, I certainly did not want watch and analyze the recording of myself afterwards. I cringed when I watched it and felt like I looked spastic, unnatural, and ineffective. Then we started talking about first impressions and I started forming even more negative thoughts in my head about how it can be so easy to blow first impressions. The statistic of over 90% of your total impact as a communicator comes from what you convey non-verbally, also added to the pressure. 

However, one thing that Vanna repeatedly pointed out is that you need to be conscious and aware of what you are saying to yourself in your head and that when you start behaving and sounding like you are sure of yourself, you start feeling more confident. I’ve noticed on the other end of the spectrum that the more negative self-talk I do, the more I start believing I’m an ineffective communicator at work which probably leads to me being somewhat ineffective.  I realized I need to focus on the positive aspect of that progression and really work toward eliminating negative self-talk and instead, start behaving and acting more confident in a professional setting. I know what confident behavior looks and sounds like so if I can present and project myself in that way more consistently, I have a better chance of getting the results I am looking for. Easier said than done, but I know with practice it will become easier. One tip that I found really useful is identifying three adjectives that capture how I need and want to be perceived before presenting or even before going to a meeting where I need to contribute. This has been extremely beneficial because it gives me a target to shoot for and helps me focus on the results I want.

Another really helpful part of the session was about thinking on your feet. I tend to perform best when I have time to think something through rather than responding immediately without being given much time to develop and organize my thoughts. The five different structures that were provided (Past/Present/Future, Point/Reason/Example/Point, Problem/Cause/Alternatives/Recommendation, the Pendulum, and the Psychological Approach) truly have helped me when responding to questions on the spot. It forces me to think about things logically and quickly rather than talking in circles as I’m trying to figure out how to organize my thoughts and get my point across. I wish I had started intentionally using this approach with these structures years ago!

Overall, even though I had some negative thoughts and self-doubt regarding the Speaking to Persuade session, it turned out to be a positive and inspiring experience and I took away numerous skills to develop and apply on that job that have already helped me become a more effective communicator and will continue to do so with more practice.

Alumni on the Move - August 2017

On Leung Asian Discovery, Class of 2014

On Leung

Asian Discovery, Class of 2014

On Leung has recently moved into a new role as a Product Manager in Event Marketing at Amazon.

Having been with Boeing for nearly six years, I wanted to challenge myself in a completely new way. I learned a lot during my time in the aerospace industry and wanted to apply my skills in the faster paced, more risky tech industry. My new position at Amazon is a product manager position with the Event Marketing team, which owns the technology used in running major events that Amazon hosts for its customers. The no-failure-allowed mentality in the high safety standards of aviation will be a great asset in my new role to ensure the technology used during these events will be both an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Following graduation from EDI, I was accepted into Boeing's Leader Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP) - a highly selective and intensive three-year leadership development program that broadened my exposure to the vast number of products and services Boeing provides. In addition, I have completed my Project Management Professional (PMP) courses and will be sitting for the exam in the coming months. On a more fun note, I started an Ultimate Frisbee Team (Pegasus Ultimate) and was also able to summit Mt. St. Helens!

I have done quite a handful of networking over the years and have constantly learned and re learned to diversify my network for both inside-and-outside the company I am working for in all kinds of roles. I love to connect people, and the breadth of individuals who hold solutions to many of today's problems are simply waiting to be uncovered.

Leo Ahearn was a program manager at Boeing, who has been a mentor to me since the beginning of my career. We met in a leadership program I was taking where he was the instructor. As we started our mentorship, we identified many values we share, including our Christian faith, our servant leadership style, and strong desires of learning about team building. It has been a tremendous blessing to have Leo walk with me through five job changes and many development opportunities. The consistency of having a mentor with such relatability to my own values has been extremely insightful because I have learned from his mistakes and to take advantage of strategic opportunities to grow my career.

Recently, I've had many of conversations about moving jobs, different companies, and changing industries. I realized, sometimes, we can get caught up in the magnitude of considering a job change. I've always encouraged people who are thinking about a new role or advancement to go apply! You don't need to make a decision until an offer is in hand. Applying will force you to keep your resume up-to-date, understand the value of your skill set in the market, and help you stay sharp when networking and for interviews. It'll allow you to learn more about different company cultures, even ones you may choose to implement in your current position. Ultimately, you may decide to take or decline an offer when you have learned more about the role, team, and company. So if you are thinking about a new challenge, stop hesitating and go apply today!

Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Fact: I get anxiety thinking about what someone’s first impression is of me!

Did they meet me before I had a chance to have my morning coffee? Did they catch me right after a long stressful day? The overall dreaded first impression feeling I have after meeting an Executive...“I hope I didn’t end my career before I even had a chance to start it!” After attending Vanna Novak’s session focused on how to effectively Speak to Persuade, I left with a greater understanding of how to present myself and the content in a natural and authentic approach.

We started the day by being videotaped doing a 30 second intro of ourselves and addressing an audience with a topic of our choice. Talk about yourself and pick your own topic…sounds easy enough, right? No, it isn’t. After the group had a chance to be videotaped in the morning, Vanna spent time later that day to critique everyone’s video. The group had an opportunity to provide feedback, and it was very useful. What I took away from the exercise was I needed to work on my voice inflection. The impression is my voice inflection (the pitch of my voice going up at the end of my sentences) can take away from my efforts of displaying confidence and authority. A person’s voice - the rate of speaking, volume, articulation, quality and pitch accounts for 38% of one’s impact on being an effective communicator!

Within the first 10 seconds of someone seeing you, they will have already made as many as 10 judgments about you, thus forming their first initial impressions of you. Many of these initial impressions are based on the physical appearances. A person’s physical impression makes up 55% of their impact as a communicator. What Vanna showed me was how I can steer one’s impression of me through projecting a perception, which later becomes reality!

“Being an effective public speaker means being no one but yourself at your confident best,” was one of my favorite quotes of the session. It reminds me that I have more power than I think I do in controlling how others perceive me during presentations and when speaking to an audience. I learned a lot this past session- I learned more about myself and discovered more about the type of leader I want to convey to others!

Journey of Three - Christina Lee

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I have to admit that until recently I’ve never really given branding and networking much thought. In fact, I didn’t really even know what branding was, and the little thought I gave to networking was primarily in a negative context. I didn’t like the idea of talking to someone with what I thought was the sole purpose of having a person to contact in the future, if and when, I needed something from them. It did not feel authentic to me.  Likewise, I didn’t love the idea of not knowing if someone was talking to me purely because they might eventually need something from me.  For that reason, I was never too interested in going to networking events.

However, last month’s session on networking provided a different spin on what networking is and helped change some of my thoughts about it with a focus in a positive way. At the session, networking was described as building relationships, and life is all about relationships. I can relate to that. I value relationships. What ended up speaking to me the most was the idea of thinking about how I can help others and not how they can help me or what they can provide for me. The idea of approaching someone and establishing a relationship with them because I might be able to help that person appeals to me. It seems different to me than approaching someone because I might need something from them and it also somehow seems different than having someone else approach me because they might need something from me in the future. I previously didn’t think of networking in terms of having meaningful relationships and friendships with people, but now I realize that it can, and often does, include the added benefit of being able to help one another. 

I also found the branding part of the session beneficial and could see how it connected to what we learned in previous sessions, as far as core values, competencies, personality, and image are concerned. The most memorable thing for me was when we were told if we don’t speak out, speak up, and define ourselves, then others will define us for us. This reinforced how I constantly need to consider how my values and personality influence my behavior and how it is perceived by others, regardless of my intent. I’m currently working on how I’m branding myself and trying to align my brand between my peers and managers so there aren’t major gaps between the two.

Overall, I did not know what to expect at the start of the branding and networking session, but took away numerous things I need to work on. I have a much stronger appreciation for how both branding and networking can play an integral role in becoming an effective leader and advancing one’s career.

Journey of Three - Stefanel Castro

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What would your personal logo be? What would your slogan be?

Our last session focused on personal branding & networking. You’ve all heard these concepts and the power they have over development and career advancement, but have you really sat down to assess what is your brand and what (or WHO) is in your network? These are the questions that lingered in my head throughout the session and the very questions I sought answers for (honestly) by the end of this experience. I specifically have given some thought to the branding portion and I would like to share my ideas with you.

When we think about the term “brand”, the immediate reaction is to associate it with products/services and the companies that provide them. I am sure as you read this and see the word “brand” pop up yet again, you are already picturing in your mind a logo...Coca Cola?! Amazon?! McDonalds?! Not only are you picturing the logo, but you are probably unconsciously repeating the words to a slogan, or some type of emotion – good or bad – has been evoked.

We have been taught to associate characteristics, words, emotions, etc. to these goods/services, yet we neglect to understand that we ARE a product and we PROVIDE services every day. This means we have been teaching our clients to associate characteristics, words, emotions, etc. to US. Perhaps you are reading this thinking “Yes…I knew that”, but have you really put some thought into what your name incites in people who know you and even those who don’t? In an era where Yelp! reviews and how many stars a place, a company, or product has, defines whether we completely ignore it or set it as a candidate. I’m surprised that we – or at least me – are not socially trained to think of our careers in the same manner. We all have a personal brand, but is it the one we want for ourselves?

My biggest takeaway from the session is that a brand needs to be strategic and intentional, so we cannot forget to market, market, market ourselves. In colloquial terms, “we gotta walk the talk” and let people know about it. The first one is the “easy” part…have the awareness to INTENTIONALLY honor your commitments, stand by what you say, deliver on promises, respect your peers, collaborate, and set the example. The trick with the second part of this – letting people know – is sending the message of how good you are, without coming across as arrogant or egocentric. I know many of you reading this will say, “I will outwork everyone and I will let my work speak for me”. My friend(s), by all means, exploit your talents and resources, but, again, think of yourself as a product. The best product out there may exist, but if the consumers do not know about it or are uneducated on it, it will not sell (or at least not to its desired extent). A piece of advice…keep a record of things you accomplish and remind yourself, your peers, and your superiors of them every so often. We sometimes focus on continuing to crank out work and do not celebrate the little accomplishments.     

Join me in this newfound endeavor of viewing myself as a product. I am aiming for a distinguished brand recognition and will settle for nothing else. This requires relentless commitment to customer service and enhanced openness to feedback. Let’s continuously capitalize on what we do right and correct what we do wrong.  I am shooting for a 5-star review from every customer…how about you?