Name: Davi Miller
Title: Partner Manager
Education: B.A. in Economics & Political Science, Middlebury College
What is the greatest lesson you've learned in your career thus far?
The greatest lesson I've learned so far is that in order to be truly successful in your career, in the long run, is first, to be sure that you are using all of the people and resources around you in order to be the most efficient and effective worker you can be. Your career is not a race, it's a marathon, so it's important to train your mind the same way you would train your body during the particularly grueling periods. Reach out to others for help, brainstorm on ideas, and navigate your company's repository of data/research/already answered questions.
In addition, it is important to understand the bigger picture at your company and how you fit into that broader goal. The sooner you understand how your role contributes to the overall company agenda, and its subsequent success, the faster you can begin prioritizing projects that help make true impact (in addition to crushing your core responsibilities of course).
What has been your greatest professional failure to date and what have you learned from that experience?
My greatest professional failure in my current role is not understanding how being overly modest or showing too much humility can hurt your career. Depending on your cultural background, it can sometimes feel uncomfortable or even painful to indulge in self-promotion. That being said, I learned very quickly that it is absolutely necessary for you to learn how to effectively self-promote in order to have a successful career. Depending on other people to recognize your successes is not something you can rely on consistently. Document your successes daily, if not, weekly and be sure to keep the decision-makers privy to those wins.
What issues have you dealt with being a person of color in corporate America and how have you overcome these challenges?
Corporate culture has been my toughest challenge thus far. Often times company culture can make you feel that you are inherently 1 or 2 standard deviations away from the "model colleague" by default. This often leads to self-doubt when you don't always feel like you "fit in". The reality is that this experience can take a toll on even the strongest of people. One of the few, but most effective, ways to overcome this challenge is by shifting your perspective. One of my favorite quotes is from a 17th century samurai by the name of Miyamoto Musashi. In his manual, "The Book of Five Rings" he wrote, "there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself." What Miyamoto is saying here is that everything you need to become the best version of yourself is already within you, so do not seek complete validation by feeling like you must be with the "in" crowd to be successful; rather he suggests seeking genuine relationships while also remaining authentic to oneself for true fulfillment and success in business and in life.
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
Communities such as the MLT network (Management Leader's of Tomorrow) and the Posse Foundation have been so influential in helping me develop my career. From a skill-building perspective, a website that I think has been instrumental for me to build skills for the 21st Century has been Udacity. Through this website, I've been able to build a foundational understanding in programming and data analytics. I highly recommend this for anyone considering a career in technology!
Do you have mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
Yes, I do have a mentor. I found this person by being patient and thinking hard about what truly mattered to me. To my earlier point, I continued to be my authentic self, while forming a genuine interest in this person and what they did at their company. In doing so, the energy I put forward was reciprocated and we’ve both just been vigilant about staying in semi-constant contact, despite each of our busy schedules.
What advice would you give a young adult who is about to start their first job post college?
Spend a lot more of your time trying to truly understand your future company. You must really understand their agenda and how your role/division fits into their broader goals. This includes digging into the details about how your company accomplishes its goals and drives toward its vision. Once you internalize these things, bring that perspective into every task you perform, big or small, and then pounce on opportunities that bring you closer and closer to contributing to the overall mission of the company.