What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Diversity, Inclusion and Communications Manager, SmartBear?
We connected with Amber Haskell to find out!
Interested in learning more about SmartBear? Make sure to check out their company page!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
“I grew up in Oakland and Berkeley, California. My dad owned his own painting and waterproofing company. My mom, as far back as I can remember, started her career in construction management, then became a stay-at-home mom, then worked as a real estate agent, and an intuitive reader.”
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I went to Northeastern University where I majored in economics with a double minor in international affairs and social entrepreneurship. I originally thought I wanted to work in nonprofits until I realized that it wasn't the right path for me. At the time, a lot of nonprofits were looking for people to do field work. I was more interested in doing program development or a back-office function. I took a class on social enterprise where they talked about corporate social responsibility. It was while taking this class where I felt that this would be a better fit for me. I participated in my university's co-op programs, where 2 out of the 3 co-ops I did were related to corporate social responsibility. My 3rd co-op was at MFS and they kept me on part-time during my last year of college and then full-time in a corporate citizenship role once I graduated. Through this role I was able to start my work in Diversity and Inclusion, as my boss ran the corporate citizenship and diversity and inclusion team. As we grew, I started to leave behind some of the corporate citizenship responsibilities that were, at that point, a well-oiled machine, so I was really able to focus on diversity and inclusion.That's when I realized that diversity and inclusion was really where I wanted to focus my time in my career.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
I think the first thing is that I’ve always been really passionate about my job. I did what was asked of me and then some. I made sure to create a reputation for myself as someone who did the work, did the work well, and did it in a timely fashion. I’ve always asked for feedback, both positive and negative. I listen to that feedback and try to improve.
I also have a group of amazing mentors and sponsors who have helped me out throughout my career and who have been my champions when I'm not in the room. I know I wouldn't be where I am without them. I also continue to be a learner every day and am always reminding myself that there's more out there, more to learn, more to be done, and that the work is never done.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Diversity, Inclusion, and Communications Manager at SmartBear?
So at the highest level, my responsibilities around DEI are around helping enhance the people diversity, whether that be gender diversity, ethnic diversity, racial diversity, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, veterans and more. This also requires amplifying that representation within our company and then creating a culture that will help us retain that talent, be attractive to that talent, and then really bring together SmartBear as a global company. That involves a lot of talking to people, listening, understanding where our growth opportunities are and then creating programs and initiatives to address them.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?
Network, network, network. Talk to people who are in the DEI world and really aim to understand what they do, what their goals are, and how they got where they are. I think a lot of the time, people want to do good and want to do social good. The focus is on society and less on business.
Really understand how you can bring diversity and inclusion into the business. Then, if you can't get into DEI right away, that's okay! Figure out how you can bring a diversity and inclusion lens to wherever you are, whether it's in marketing or finance, you know, how are you helping with vendor diversity?
Are you helping make sure that your marketing materials are representative of different populations? From an IT perspective, are we making our workplaces accessible and easy to use for people with different backgrounds? So, how do you make that a part of your everyday job? And then, keep learning, keep being a resource until that job or position does open up.
Lastly, I would say stay humble. DEI is a journey even for DEI practitioners. I'm continuing to learn every single day from my peers who do DEI work and from others who don't do DEI work. Remembering that while I am the expert at SmartBear on diversity and inclusion, I am not necessarily the diversity expert for everything. So continue to learn, stay humble and keep an open mind.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
“I drink a lot of coffee and I drink it black. The only exception is when I am at Dunkin Donuts and then I will order a coffee with cream. I have at least one black coffee in the morning and one in the afternoon. I am a ‘coffee snob’ and want to taste the notes in coffee like people taste the different notes in wine because I want to take the time to understand the flavor!”
What time do you get into the office?
“If I am coming into the office or I am working remotely it is between 8:00 - 8:30 AM. I am a morning person, I do my best work in the morning. When 2-3 PM rolls around, you're not getting the same, fully functioning brain anymore. It is so interesting how people work in different ways. I have a friend who is a writer and she does all of her work at night because that is when she is most creative. But I’m in bed by 10pm, so lights out! My friends joke around and call me ‘Gramber’ for ‘Grandma Amber’.”’
What are three things that motivate you in your role?“
The three things that motivate me in this roll would be improving the business and the business’ bottom line through diversity and inclusion, building relationships and connections with colleagues and people around SmartBear, and setting myself up for what's the next opportunity and putting myself in the best possible position to elevate my role here at SmartBear.”
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
“I'm usually awake around 6:30 AM, get out of bed at 7 am, make coffee and walk the dog, watch the news and read news updates on Politico, log on between 8:00 and 8:30 AM, check email and LinkedIn for any DEI topics and updates I should be aware of, work on whatever projects or initiatives that might be the focus of the day. One of the nice things about this job is that there is a lot of creativity based on what the focus is within the next few days. No two days are the same which is really why I love this role. I am not the type of person who could do the same thing everyday. If you were to say “Hey, your job is to look at spreadsheets all day for the next 10 years” I would lose it. It’s just not who I am. I try to be offline around 5:00 - 5:30 PM. In the afternoons, I will try to do some type of workout or physical activity.”
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
“I wouldn’t say I log back in or actively jump on the computer, but I will monitor Slack and Outlook on my phone so if something comes up I can respond to it quickly.”
Any productivity hacks?
“Get up and move whenever you need to. I do my best thinking when I’m moving so make sure you remember to get up, move around, have some “non-screen” thinking time.“
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
“My top three apps I can’t live without are Spotify, Linkedin, and Google Maps.”
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
“In my last role, my most proud accomplishment was starting the Employee Resource Group program. This program really gave a voice to employees at my last firm and created a structured grass-root outlet for employees to help further diversity and inclusion. The thing I love most about Employee Resource Groups, when done correctly and when they’re partnered with the business, is that they really can champion and create change. For one, they give people a sense of buy-in. They help create a more diverse and inclusive company. Most DEI teams are small; I was a team of two at my last firm. Having employees that are helping with DEI initiatives as side projects on top of their day to day projects is great for us as a productivity standpoint and being able to create change.
More recently, I think coming to SmartBear is a big accomplishment for me. Unlike many millenials, I stayed at one company for 7 years. I was really comfortable there, I knew how things were done, and I built relationships. But I think making that change and making that bet on myself that I could go to a new company and help start a sustainable DEI initiative was a big move for me. I’m excited that I now get to do DEI work full-time instead of part-time with corporate philanthropy.”
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
“There are many people I admire, from my grandmother who is one of the strongest women I have ever known, to Michelle Obama. I think there are a lot of strong female leaders in this world that everyone can learn from. In terms of professional advice, I have former bosses, coaches, and peers who I talk to regularly who can help me think things out from different perspectives. Everybody that I talk to, they are all different age ranges and different phases of their careers, but they are really great at being my champion when I need that boost. They’re also able to tell me like it is and where I might have a blindspot.”