Next is Mahreen Rashid, executive vice president of people services at Excella, who’s the HR Executive of the Year, Private Company (Annual Revenue Less Than $250M) finalist. Here, she talks about primary focus areas going forward and proud career moments.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
One of my top focuses for the future, and something I believe is vital to the growth of our nation’s tech industry, is expanding access to tech jobs. Thousands of people want to break into the tech space, but they don’t have the opportunities they need to get their foot in the door.
During my time at Excella, I have worked to increase diversity in the tech industry by partnering with organizations like On-Ramps for Careers, which provides high school students with the opportunity to pursue tech careers, and local HBCUs like Howard University. Continuing to partner with these organizations is a top priority for me.
And as Excella continues to grow, our number one focus is recruiting from diverse sources like Virginia Values Veterans (V3), the National Society of Black Engineers, and Women in Technology ⏤ all organizations we’ve recruited from in the past.
It is vital that we create and enable opportunities for anyone looking to pursue a career in technology, as opportunities are not as abundant as they seem. By supporting these efforts, we can build an industry with diversity of thought and voice which is crucial to support innovation and a stronger, more united community.
What are you most proud of looking back at your career?
I am most proud to have found my authentic voice as a leader, and more importantly, understood that I needed to find it in the first place to grow in my career. While at a diversity and inclusion event early in my career, a speaker asked us to participate in an exercise where we had to think of a letter, number, animal, etc. Almost everyone came up with the same answer, including myself. But before I decided on the “right answer,” I thought of something else, but dismissed my idea because I wanted my response to fall in line with everyone else’s. At that moment, I had to ask myself why I shut down my initial idea.
From that moment forward, I realized that I should no longer change myself or my ideas to fit in with the majority. I made it my priority to create a company culture that values diversity of thought and difference of opinions, so all Excellians can be their authentic selves and find their voice. In the tech industry, diverse thoughts foster innovation and challenge the status quo, and it is imperative that Excellians collaborate in a space that is supportive of all ideas and voices.