5 Tried & True Steps for Creating a More Diverse Pipeline from Leaders at Vrbo and Shopify
The organizations we work with at PowerToFly are all committed to building diverse talent pipelines, but they often don't know how to begin.
We work one-on-one with clients to tackle this issue, but we wanted to share the lessons we've learned with a much larger audience. So we partnered with recruiting software company, Lever, to host a webinar with diversity leaders at Vrbo and Shopify:
Daniela Toia always had big aspirations for her career. But with them came self-doubt.
“At the very beginning, I was unconsciously limiting myself in what I could achieve,” Daniela shares. “While I was aspiring to have a position in functions where I could have an impact, I could not see myself leading those functions.”
Turns out, she could.
Daniela is now the vice president of regional manufacturing in Europe for AbbVie, the sixth-largest biomedical company by revenue in the world.
“It’s been a bit of a journey for me, building step by step the understanding that I could do very well in my career — and I could even push myself to do more than I ever thought was possible,” she says.
We sat down with Daniela to talk about the five strategies that helped her grow her career and how she overcame self-limiting beliefs along the way.
Perfect is the enemy of better
“At the very beginning of my career, like so many other women, I was very much convinced that I had to be super competent and prepared, and perfect as well, in everything that I was doing, at work and in my personal life,” Daniela says.
This idea of achieving perfection felt debilitating at times, and Daniela viewed certain leadership positions as unattainable.
“I could not forgive myself for not being perfect and this was limiting myself. It was this idea of: how can I be more if I’m not enough now?” she says.
Daniela started to realize that being “competent and prepared” was important, but it wasn’t everything.
“I wanted to be in control of any single detail, which becomes almost impossible when your span of responsibility grows. Actually, I learned: you need to prioritize what to focus on. And you need to acknowledge that it is more important that your team feel accountable for those details, while you work to build for their growth and their success, at work as well as in personal life.”
Being deliberate in developing yourself
Since the beginning of her career, Daniela has believed that she could work on herself, understanding her areas of improvement and being very deliberate in developing herself against those areas.
“It’s about taking small steps,” she explains. “If you have a clear understanding of where you want to go and where you are in this moment, that’s when you can work on filling the gaps that are preventing you from getting there. This helps you to grow in a very deliberate way to arrive at the next step. Then the next. And then the next.”
Vocalizing her career goals
When Daniela grew from a quality assurance position to a site director with AbbVie, she recalls the importance of being outspoken about her career intentions.
“It was clear to me that I wanted to be a site director, so I worked to make it visible to others who were in a position to help me get there,” she says. “I see other women leaders struggle to do this or feel shy in doing this. But if you are aiming to be considered for a position, the company has to know that you want to get there.”
Leaning on others
“Don’t be shy or intimidated when asking for feedback from your peers, your boss, or even the people working for you in order to understand how you can be a stronger leader,” Daniela says when reflecting on how she continued to advance in AbbVie.
“Even when I was staying in the same position, I still faced challenges,” she adds. “And meanwhile, as I was growing as a leader, I was also growing as a person. Leaning on others helped me to navigate those challenges.”
Later in her career, Daniela decided to start working with a coach — and she hasn’t stopped.
“I highly recommend this to all leaders. My coach helps me to understand myself and develop a level of self-awareness that, on one hand, helps me understand my strengths, and on the other hand, helps me to understand what areas I need to work on.”
Embracing lateral moves
Daniela’s path to leadership hasn’t always been linear — sometimes, Daniela explains, growing as a leader has meant making lateral moves.
“It’s important not to be afraid of having diverse experiences,” she says. “I had the opportunity to experience different types of jobs within AbbVie. Sometimes, these were roles that I wouldn’t have chosen as my preference, but I decided to take them. And it was great because I had the opportunity to broaden my ability to look at the business in a way I couldn’t before.”
As Daniela pushed herself to take on roles outside her comfort zone, she also developed confidence in her aptitude for learning.
“Those experiences that brought me out of my comfort zone are the ones that enabled me to grow holistically — from a professional, leadership, and personal point of view.”
The next phase in her career
Daniela enjoys reflecting on how far she’s come.
“An exercise that’s really helped me is looking behind to see the journey I’ve been on and the success I’ve achieved,” she shares. “This gives me the confidence that I really deserve to be where I am… It’s a continuous journey to get to each new role, and I’ve overcome various challenges to get to this point.”
Now, as a senior leader, Daniela is shifting her focus toward a new arena.
“I want to develop the younger generation and help those who are going to face the same challenges I did in terms of developing confidence along their own growth paths,” Daniela says. “This is very important to me, especially in the context of women leaders.”
Her favorite piece of advice? “Don’t pose a limit for yourself, and don’t allow anyone else to limit you. It’s simply a matter of willingness and taking those small steps,” she says. “You will get there.”
The engineering team at uShip keeps growing! Watch the video to the end to learn everything about it.
Is the engineering team at uShip the place where you can thrive? Find out as Caleb Ruzicka, senior quality assurance engineer at uShip, tells you everything you need to know about the team and the company.
Are you ready to be part of a dynamic engineering team? At uShip, they’re always searching for talented individuals who love building fast, scalable products and thriving in a collaborative, diverse environment.
The engineering team at uShip is dedicated to creating innovative solutions. They work closely with various departments, from marketing to design and customer operations, to ensure that products are top-notch. Collaboration is as vital as recognition. The team takes pride in acknowledging outstanding contributions. At uShip, you'll have the opportunity to shine and be recognized for your hard work.
A diverse engineering team? Find it at uShip!
Diversity and inclusion are core values at uShip. They believe in fostering a workplace where everyone can thrive. Their team-building activities and focus on work-life balance contribute to a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. If you're ready to tackle challenging problems, innovate, and collaborate with a fantastic team, uShip is your place.
Are you interested in joining uShip? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to know Caleb Ruzicka
Caleb is a knowledgeable quality assurance engineer working with distributed systems. If you are interested in a career at uShip, you can connect with him on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More about uShip
uShip is an Internet company focused on solving a real-world problem and having loads (pun intended) of fun along the way. Since launching uShip in 2004, its mission has been to be the world’s leading online solution for shipping anything, anytime, anywhere. They are passionate about empowering buyers and providers of transportation services to efficiently conduct business on an unbiased, transparent, and competitive platform.
For Laura Adkins, senior manager of enablement at Relativity, enablement is about creating clarity in the face of change.
“For example, say your company is releasing a new product,” she says. “What does the Support team need to know to be able to answer questions from customers for that new product? What systems do the Sales and Success organization need to be able to adapt to the update? Do they have the information that they need available in their systems and part of their processes?”
Rather than producing a static piece of content, effective enablement presents information in a “way that leads to a behavior change, learning, and reaction that will enable the customers (internal or external) to do their part in helping the company achieve a result.”
As a leader at Relativity, Laura has relied heavily on enablement to increase the efficiency of her team while bolstering employee satisfaction. We sat down with her to discuss her journey into the technology realm, and why enablement is a source of excitement for her.
Finding the right fit at Relativity
Even while starting her career in education, Laura was fascinated by enablement.
“For me, it’s always been about finding the best way to approach a problem or task,” she says. “The reason that I got into technology and learned to code was the idea that I could create technology that would make my daily tasks easier and/or automated for myself.”
Pivoting away from her background in education, Laura decided to enroll in a coding boot camp where she quickly discovered a love for Structured Query Language (SQL), a programming language for storing and processing information in a relational database.
“I looked for companies and roles that had requirements to work with SQL so that I could grow those skills,” she recalls.
Enter Relativity, a global legal technology company that helps users organize data, discover the truth, and act on it.
“I am a person who leans on instinct and intuition, and I can’t say anything more than it just ‘felt right.’ Every person I met during the interview process was welcoming, kind, intelligent, and helpful. I knew that it was the right fit for me both in how I wanted to grow my skills and the type of colleagues I wanted to work with,” Laura shares.
Deep diving into enablement
Laura's first leadership role at Relativity involved managing a small project team.
“As we understood what our various high-level services were, we realized that our teams needed more information about changes that were occurring — especially updates to our products. Our customers cannot have a good experience with new products if the teams that are providing services are not ready to answer their questions and assist them with these new products,” Laura explains.
To provide the best possible customer experience, she and her colleagues started a process called Service Delivery Readiness. The program ensures teams are prepared to answer customer questions and support updates, ultimately reducing time to resolution and the volume of customer contact.
When a role opened on the Enablement team, Laura eagerly accepted the opportunity.
She smiles and says, “I am in a role that really suits me and leverages my various experiences to create really awesome outcomes with a fantastic team of professionals.”
Why enablement is empowerment
While enablement may be prudent for business, Laura also recognizes that its purpose boils down to helping employees.
“For me, the satisfaction comes from an increase in employee satisfaction and, in those terms, cost savings in terms of employee retention and people time. Some estimates show that team members spend over 20% of their time searching for information. That adds up to an extra 8-hour workday every week. Imagine the gains that your business could unlock if team members knew that they would get information easily at this day and time.
"You also see higher levels of customer satisfaction due to the consistency of the message. Customers hear the same information from all team members with whom they interact, which creates confidence. Enablement, in my mind, is about empowerment!”
Embracing an enablement mindset within your business
Laura leaves us with a few pointers on how to embrace an enablement mindset within our organizations, no matter our role.
Empathize. Do your best to put yourself in the shoes of anyone in the organization who might be impacted by a change you’re making or know about, and advocate that they get the information they need to prepare for the change.
Be your own advocate. Advocate for your needs when changes happen in the business. Try to think of ways you can understand and prepare yourself and your teammates for that change.
Get ahead of change. Always be thinking of how you can ‘get to the left’ of change and do your best to think of systems you can put in place to get information sooner so you have more time to prepare.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Prioritization is your best friend. Find criteria to think through what kind of changes or updates need immediate attention.