Writing Your Own Future
Starting out, goals can seem like summits of the highest peaks, but through self-confidence and keen dedication, a career journey can be less of a daunting climb, and more of an exciting adventure. The career journey of Shondra DeLoach-Perea, Vice President of Global Field Services, Call Centers, and Technology Operations at IGT, is a prime example of such goals becoming reality. After over 14 years as a leader in tribal gaming, DeLoach-Perea has redefined customer experience, streamlined operations, dominated manufacturing, and transformed company culture through her DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) leadership.
Not only is DeLoach-Perea an inspiration for those in her field, but she is also a role model for young professionals nationwide. With the help of her extensive experience and vast professional knowledge, DeLoach-Perea consistently empowers today’s youth to build their confidence and strive for their dreams.
We were lucky enough to sit down with DeLoach-Perea to gather her advice for those just kicking off their career adventure. Through DeLoach-Perea’s help, newcomers can not only make a strategic plan for their future, but also discover the power of self-worth in achieving their goals.
Finding Your Voice
If DeLoach-Perea learned one thing throughout her career journey: it’s that there is never “the right time” to speak up. In her words, “A closed mouth never gets fed.” Part of advancing your career journey is learning how to use your voice, building confidence, and highlighting your strengths in a positive light. DeLoach-Perea’s confidence and professional independence sprouted by aspiring towards the ways of her mentors. By observing their actions and following after their courage, DeLoach-Perea was able to elicit her own voice, and in turn become a mentor for others.
The Importance of Networking
What’s DeLoach-Perea’s main piece of advice to young professionals? Learn how to network. Whether it’s family, friends, or prior coworkers, building connections is absolutely necessary for propelling your career. “When you are looking at your career, find out who your support person is, spend quality time with them. Make sure that they know what your goals are,” says DeLoach-Perea. Asking questions is also key for growth, and everyone needs a support person to answer their uncertainties or concerns about their career journey. Networking can be daunting at the start, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Navigating Your Career Path
“What we choose in life is based on what we want,” says DeLoach-Perea. In order to achieve your dream position, strategic thinking is required to plan out your career journey. As DeLoach-Perea says, “Have those three and five year goals, manifest them, and talk to your support group. You need to be very clear and intentional about what you want.”
The Cultural Transformation of the Future
From inequality to a lack of diversity in the workplace, many company cultures are still trying to adjust to keep up with progress towards equity – and in DeLoach-Perea’s eyes, we are witnessing a significant tipping point. More than ever, companies are starting to evaluate their morals and values, and analyze whether or not their workforce reflects their vision and core competencies. As DeLoach-Perea puts it, these changes are being shaped by the ones finally speaking up. “Some of that transition will be organic. The more engagement that we can drive the more we can empower people in that space to be empowered, to use their voices, and to feel like they can speak up,” says DeLoach-Perea. By truly listening and considering opinions outside of our norms, we can finally show up as people, and motivate a cultural transformation of the workplace.
Advice For Women and Young Professionals
When asked for words of wisdom for young professionals, DeLoach-Perea gave us a few key tips for those finding their voice and navigating their career journey.
There is No Such Thing as the Perfect Candidate
“If you are interested in something, don’t think you have to know it 100%,” says DeLoach-Perea. Every position comes with growth – where you’re starting out does not define how much you can improve. Like DeLoach-Perea puts it “If you have core competencies, you can learn everything else.”
Look at Weaknesses As an Opportunity Instead of a Threat.
Positive thinking is crucial for a blossoming career. Like DeLoach-Perea explains, weaknesses are an opportunity for growth, not a detriment to your career. Rather than focus on what you can’t do, be proud of what you can, and work to continuously advance your professional growth, and your core competencies.
Don’t Underestimate Your Chances and Capabilities
As humans, we’re prone to doubting ourselves, but we can’t let this affect our career growth. Through hard work and dedication, manager and leadership positions aren’t out of reach. Like DeLoach-Perea says, “If you see something you want, the worst case is you don’t apply.” In other words, by taking those leaps of faith, we can achieve our greatest aspirations.