In our latest Career Over Coffee, we sat down with Shiqueen Brown, Strategic Partnerships Manager with Microsoft to discuss her role within Black in Corporate, a resource and tool for Black individuals in the corporate space, as well as her advice for overcoming challenges and how to utilize transferable skills within your career.
Briefly describe your background and the work you do.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Virginia, I developed a passion for community work and building towards equity. Throughout most of my career, I’ve spent time in the government and non-profit space and more recently have shifted into corporate. With my past work in government and non-profit, I worked directly with youth to reach their goals while also focusing my efforts on addressing the current criminal legal system and its impact on communities of color, which is something I’m very passionate about.
Currently, I’m the Strategic Partnerships Manager with Microsoft, where I focus on supporting the funding allocated to social justice organizations within the justice space.
Tell us about Black in Corporate and the work you’re doing with the organization.
Black in Corporate is a resource and tool to champion Black individuals behind corporate walls. Through Black in Corporate, individuals are presented with the necessary tools to not only exist, but to thrive in their given work environment. The mission of Black in Corporate resonates with me on a professional and personal level, as I believe strongly in uplifting Black growth across industries. I’m currently on the partnerships team, helping with external partners and supporting the team with mentee selections and events as they arise.
How did you get to where you are today in your career?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my “community”, which includes both my family and friends who continue to push and support me throughout my career and life journey. I am a massive supporter of networking, maintaining connections, and always being open to new spaces and opportunities. Naturally, I’m a big dreamer and I believe that if you truly want to be somewhere, you can manifest it into your life, as vision setting like this has helped to open many doors in my career.
What advice do you have for candidates looking to pivot in their careers?
To begin, I wish someone would have told me that it’s normal to make a pivot in your career. When I was younger, I believed that you had to choose one path, which often created stress. As I’ve developed professionally, I’ve learned it’s not always about pivoting but rather continually growing and adding tools and perspective to how you see the world. For candidates looking to pivot in their careers, I would encourage them to research industries of interest and be really clear on how their niche or skills can benefit and drive that industry to new levels. In my experience, I have pivoted in my career, but my “why” and purpose have remained steady, which has helped guide me along the way.
What advice do you have for young professionals seeking mentorship?
For young professionals, mentorship is essential, whether you’re connecting with mentors inside or outside of your specific field. As you grow within your career, the function of your mentors will change, as mine personally have as I’ve transitioned throughout my career. Mentorship is a two-way street, so seeking out a mentor that meets your needs and allows you to continually learn from them over time is essential.
For me, the most important advice I ever received was to know yourself outside of a job title. It’s easy to get caught up in our careers and neglect self-care, but as I’ve grown and focused more on centering my inner peace, I have been able to open doors I would have never thought possible.
What are the most important transferable skills you’ve been able to utilize throughout your career and across various industries?
Throughout my career, my love for collaboration, multi-tasking, project management, and using my creative side to find solutions has contributed to transitions. I find that I lean on my skills, both hard and soft, to propel me through different industries while also relying on my strengths to help guide me further within my career.
What past work experiences have helped shape your decision-making in your current position?
The roles I was in prior helped me to identify the things I wanted most in my next position, build my skills, and identify gaps. My entire career has consisted of using my platform to make a statement for my community. Moving forward, I’ll continue to take that approach in any role that I obtain.
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