Name: Anjelica (AJ) Jones
Hometown: Lake Placid/Bowling Green, FL
Current Title: Finance Operations Business Partner at Netflix
Prior Professional Experience: 2.5 years as a Finance Manager at Microsoft, 5 years as an Electrical Engineer for architectural and engineering consulting firms, 3 years as a Hustler (city government employee, server, etc)
Education: Bachelor of Science degree, Electrical Engineering (Florida State University); Master of Business Administration degree (University of Michigan)
What is the most important professional lesson you've learned to date?
The most important professional lesson I have learned to date is that I determine my worth. Not a job title, not a company, not a degree and not how much I make (or don’t make) can determine your worth. It is as simple as that.
What has been your biggest professional failure to date and what have you learned from that experience?
Oh my. This is a good one. :) Ok, ONE of my biggest professional failures was not advocating enough for myself. This was particularly relevant when it came to negotiating my salary and raises. I have left a lot of money on the table over the years because it took me way too long to realize my true value in the workplace. I am the BIGGEST Drake fan, and when he said “Know yourself, know your worth”, he was NOT lying! So the earlier you learn to bet on yourself and believe in your abilities, the better off you AND your wallet will be.
What issues have you dealt with being a woman/person of color in corporate America and how have you overcome these challenges?
How much time do you have? So while I feel that no one--man, woman, person of color or non-person of color--is immune to the BS that corporate America offers, being a woman AND a person of color comes with an additional set of hurdles. Again, the more you know your worth, the better equipped you are to navigate the foolery.
My biggest challenges at work have revolved, and still revolve around MICRO-AGGRESSIONS. Passive-aggressive people who are immediately intimidated by you or immediately draw an opinion of you based simply on how you look, is commonplace in Corporate America. I have to regularly exceed expectations in order to “prove” myself, while counterparts, who are not persons of color or who are not in the minority, sometimes don’t even meet the expectation, but still succeed in the work environment. Having to work twice as hard to get ½ as far is a real thing...but I’m still in the race because I refuse to let anyone else write my narrative but ME!
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
I have utilized the employee resource groups at work, which can be extremely helpful because these groups offer camaraderie and commonality in work environments where most employees don’t look like you and could never walk a ¼ of a mile in your shoes.
I have also utilized the support system that is my family and friends. Though I am amazingy independent and do not rely on them for approval, I do rely on them for humility, love, reinforcement, and sound advice.
I leverage technology and social media. From the New York Times and CNN apps to LinkedIn, I stay connected to world news so that I know what’s going on around me and ensure I never get too insulated within my own bubble. Because it’s all just so much bigger than myself. I also these platforms, and others, to take refresher courses here and there to stay on top of my game…(or I at least sign up for the courses, lol).
And lastly, I leverage my faith. It is so easy to get caught up in the corporate shuffle, that your spirit can easily become out of sync. So, I have to stay tuned to my higher being so that I can stay focused on my goal, and not let the haters inside and outside of Corporate America distract me from my North Star...and not allow myself to get in my own way (because sometimes we can be our own worst enemy).
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
I have a FEW mentors! Some I straight-up asked, some I selected and they didn’t even know it (lol), and some chose me as a mentee. The main thing that has attracted me to all of my mentors is their AUTHENTICITY. If you are a genuine person, who has been true to yourself and helped others during your ascension to “the top”, that is a foundational aspect if you want me to seek and take guidance from you regarding my career (and thus, my livelihood).
And it’s a two-way street: just like I have to show my mentor my eagerness in wanting to learn more about his/her journey and my desire to obtain nuggets on how I can be as successful as possible, they have to show me that they are selfless above all else and are about lifting up others AS they climb...because there are seats for all of us at the corporate table.
What advice would you give a young adult who is about to start their first job post college?
Be humble...but don’t for a second be timid. Because you have the goods and are worthy. Period.
Why did you decide to go back to graduate school and what are you hoping it will enable you to do next?
My bachelor’s degree is in Electrical Engineering, so the FIRST time I attempted to get a Master’s degree was right after graduating from undergrad. I personally knew no one at the time who had a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and I wanted to be the first. Wrong reason...because I lasted a year, and barely; that was because I was burnt out and had no desire to get another degree [just yet], and had no business in any school at that time in my life.
But that all changed when I saw a newsletter at work one day. It featured pictures and profiles of each member of the Executive Suite of the company I worked for at the time...and there were nothing but pictures and profiles of older, white men. I knew at that very moment that I wanted to change the makeup of what an executive board looked like, because how could there NOT be anyone who looked like me? So I decided then and there that I wanted to be a Chief Diversity Officer, and I knew business school was the place where I could gain the necessary leadership skills in order to effectuate such change. I truly believe in being the change that I want to see...and I know that I can be. We all can. So...I’ll meet y’all at the top. ;)