Amelia, you are a First Gen Success who participated in the 2015 GlobalMindED inaugural Leadership Class. What is your personal story and what motivates you to be your best?
I am one of four girls and I come from a mixed family, Lebanese American. Growing up, my parents always pushed my sisters and I to focus on our education and get our degree, that was really important to them since they experienced first-hand, the challenges of advanced career opportunities due to a lack of a college diploma. What I learned, through GlobalMindED, was that developing relationships with other first-generation students and sharing experiences and questions was so empowering. It helped me feel more “welcomed” in the higher education arena knowing I wasn’t the only first-generation student and that other’s, like me, had questions.
I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s in business management and a bachelor’s in computer information systems. For me, I wanted to blend a soft skill degree with a hard skill degree. I took 5 years to graduate so that I could obtain both degrees while interning at HP Inc. I always say that my internship was the longest job interview I’ve ever had – 4 years to be exact. I was fortunate to land a full-time job with HP before graduation in 2016. I started out managing the Workstation divisions relationship with Microsoft and I evolved my role to managing our full operating systems portfolio along with our security and manageability strategy. This evolution of the role assisted in a few promotions early on in my career. I advanced into the Product Management of what we call ZCentral. This was a new role that allowed me the opportunity to forge a path for future business growth in the company. I loved the ambiguity of the assignment and thrived on the unique remote compute business changes that I was able to help solve. The COVID Pandemic amplified the importance of that role and allowed for quicker decision making and a higher global impact. While that role was fun, I’ve always been keen on maintaining relationships with previous colleagues and I was invited to interview with an old colleague for a Product Planning role of one of HP’s highest volume platforms, our 400 series notebooks.
With hard work and dedication, I afforded myself the opportunity to land this new role in 2021. My motivation lies within values my parents instilled in me at a young age, do your job to the best of YOUR ability. My drive and ambition are fueled by work that makes a difference. At HP Inc, I believe in the strong leadership Enrique Lores, our CEO, instils in the company. A strong leader with purpose will attract more strong individuals and guide them into leadership. When you believe in the core values of the organization you work for, you are driven to give more than 100% every day because you know you are making a difference. That is what my career at HP has afforded me.
You were an intern at HP and that led to a job offer and two promotions since you graduated and began working. What did you learn on your internship that helped you excel once hired? What is your job now and your goals for it?
One of the individuals responsible for my hire as an intern, Travis Humphries, is now my manager in my new role. 8.5 years, and to this day, the mentorships, and relationships I’ve built have continued to help guide my growth. My internship taught me to build relationship, find mentors you can trust to be honest with and that will be honest with you. Ask for criticism but also learn to up level your strengths. I also consider Global Minded as an extended internship opportunity. Global minded helped me develop more confidence in my leadership abilities. I was able to extend my networking skills and create relationships that I know I can rely on for advice throughout my career. I am now the Global Product Planner for the HP 400 series notebooks. My goal is making a difference through technology that will impact the world. One of the target segments of my new platform is education. I go to work every day thinking about how I can make learning easier through technology for teachers and students alike. Finding purpose in your daily activities will make the difference between succeeding and excelling.
What inside secrets do you have for our First Gen Students based on your personal and professional success?
Believe in yourself. Step up every day. Prepare your mindset to step up and overachieve, don’t settle for mediocre. Often first-generation students have a soft skill that cannot be taught – determination. As a first-generation student, we learn to not take no for an answer and to forge new paths. Take that approach every day.
Take opportunities you are provided. Global MindED was such a beneficial investment of time for my future. This program not only supports and encourages first-generation students, but it creates an inviting space for lifelong relationships and mentorship opportunities. Take advantage of these!
What do you most want to achieve personally and professionally in the years ahead?
This year I am getting married! Personally, I want to focus on my marriage and the health of my husband and myself. We are both big believers that when we focus on a happy and healthy personal life, it will help us to also be successful in our careers. I believe that balance is key to achieving any goal. Professionally, I want to continue to evolve my network and begin mentoring those coming up behind me. Each year I get more confident to step up as an industry leader and giving back to programs such as Global MindED are absolutely the best use of my career growth. As long as I am making a difference and impacting the world, I would like to continue my work at HP. Technology is such a key component of every day life, I enjoy working closely with it and challenging myself to push technology to it’s limits.
What can the tech companies and all companies do to be more effective with women, leaders of color and diverse leaders of all backgrounds?
Technology is key to today’s world. Tech companies have a strong influencing power with their work. Intentional actions are important. At HP, I have never expressed interest in a learning opportunity, training, or conference and been turned down. For me, being intentional every day and working for a company that supports and encourages those intentions is key. Read diverse material, interview diverse customers, built technology for diverse interests. The key to evolved success is diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, and economic background. If you limit your employee diversity, you will limit your total addressable customer base. Also, it is so much more fun to work in a diverse organization and intentionally work with a diverse customer base! Have fun at work and learn more by encouraging more diversity!
In addition to internal encouragement, I believe it is important for companies to cross collaborate. Encouraging employees to work with programs, such as Global MindED, will help then to reach a more diverse workforce. Typically, you find more diversity amongst first-generation students and their life skills are very helpful to creating diverse products for a diverse audience.