Name: Shelby Hall
Current Title: Manager, Corporate Strategy
Company: Under Armour
Industry: Retail/ Sporting Goods
Education: BBA, Marketing at Howard University and MBA at Duke University
What is the most important professional lesson you've learned to date?
There tends to be a lot of scrutiny and discussion around how women of color present themselves in Corporate America. Although I believe this conversation has become less of a hot topic over the years, it is definitely something that continues to cross my mind. Therefore, the most important lesson I have learned is that perception is reality and you have to be comfortable and own your reality if you want to truly bring yourself to work. It might slow down your professional growth or may not matter at all, but either way, I now understand the tradeoffs and ensure I am comfortable/confident to let my work speak for itself. However, I know and understand that this path is not for everyone.
What has been your biggest professional failure to date and what have you learned from that experience?
I know I have made a number of mistakes throughout my career, but the reason I don’t view them as failures is because they have only made me stronger personally and professionally. These experiences taught me that we are probably harder on ourselves than anyone else and it is important to move on quickly and learn from mistakes.
What issues have you dealt with being a person of color in corporate America and how have you overcome these challenges?
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about unconscious bias, which are the learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, and deeply ingrained. Unconscious bias has the ability to influence behavior. In my experience, people tend to hire and promote people that are similar to themselves, which makes it much more difficult to be a woman of color in Corporate America. I aim to overcome this challenge by starting with myself and who I hire, promote, etc. We all have unconscious bias, but if I start to self-recognize my own unconscious biases and discuss the rationale from my choices, then I’ll start seeing change.
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
I tend to leverage a lot of sporting goods company news/articles to stay in the know of what happening in my industry, but I think it is sometimes even more important to know what is happening from a general global perspective. You can learn so much from case studies outside of your industry that force you to think a little differently. This way of thinking has helped to add an interesting perspective within my career.
Do you have mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
Yes, I have a few. I actually have never really intentionally sought out a mentor, but I have found them in a more organic sense. Networking is essential in Corporate America and it’s an area where I look to continue to grow. Therefore, the organic approach tends to work for my personal style.
What advice would you give a young adult who is about to start their first job post college?
Be a sponge for information and learn as much as you can to stretch your experiences outside your day to day job. The hope is to continue to be marketable internally and armed for the next career opportunity around the corner.
Why did you decide to go back to school to pursue a graduate degree?
I went to business school to continue to grow and round out my skill set and also to transition out of the financial industry and into an area where I was truly passionate. I knew if I really wanted to grow that I needed to love what I was doing.