This blog comes from my work experiences in the United States corporations over four decades. I narrate a view from within the spectrum of companies I worked for as an employee. During this period, the corporate world saw tremendous changes in professional job functions, whether in executive management, finance, administration, human resources, product management, solutions development, program/project management, or sales and marketing. However, these functions, specifically in large corporations, for senior management, are mostly a white man’s world even today.
Starting as an international student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, I had the unique experience of integrated learning as an industrial engineering student. I had the opportunity to work for three companies, (#1) Magnesium Casting Company, (#2) Data General Corporation, and (#3) Zayre Corporation, where, as a brown co-op knowledge worker, I felt high and dry among mostly all-white male professionals. These work periods were in-between alternate periods of academic quarters in three or six-month periods. In my co-op employment, I received professional-level compensation that helped pay for most of my tuition. To pay for other expenses such as renting a room, groceries, entertainment, etc. I still needed to work during the periods of academic quarters. Notable among the various part-time jobs I had while at college is (#4) Checker Cabs. This company was conveniently next to the University. While waiting for the start of my shift on the first day, after classes, I stood amid African Americans, immigrants brown and white, who were also waiting for their shift to start. That sharply contrasted with the environment of my co-op jobs in major corporations. My work life stories are full of contrasts, ups and downs, successes and failures, and emotional highs and lows that one can relate to from my blogs or learn something new to handle situations better than one would without knowing these sketches.
Most importantly, I broke many barriers and learned many lessons I wish to share in my blogs. Some of these anecdotes will benefit the reader in ways I cannot predict. Women in general and men from other countries who came to college or had professional jobs in the U.S. or Canada will find much in common. I did not face discrimination in my co-op jobs, although I did in my professional career, just like women and people of color do. I address specific events in my blogs of differentiated behavior from some supervisors or inequities received due to who I was and still am. I hope others will benefit from these observations and can better foresee and circumvent perceptions that lead to discrimination.
At the beginning of my senior year at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, I interviewed on campus and received an offer of a permanent position upon graduation. This offer was primarily because of my co-op experiences. So, after graduation, I loaded my mere belongings in my Ford Pinto, said goodbye to my friends, and headed south to Jessup, Maryland, for my first job as a graduate and professional for a company. This company would be the first of 17 companies where I worked as a full-time employee, individual contributor, consultant, middle management, senior management, and corporate officer.
In each of the companies I was a part of, I have intriguing experiences that I want to narrate, which may provide the reader a perspective from a brown immigrant that may help lookout for show stoppers and, more importantly, guide your success in mid to large-size U.S. corporations or in their adopted society in general. Sharing some of these experiences, successes, challenges, fun times, and lessons learned will benefit you in pursuing your corporate career and make you feel more prepared than I was. I narrate insights gained and perspectives formed so others, specifically those who come to the U.S. seeking a better education or job and a better future, can learn from the picture of the U.S. corporate culture I paint, the challenges I faced as an immigrant who grew up in another continent. Out of the 17 companies I worked for in full-time, exempt capacity, I gained millions of dollars worth of stock options in three jobs. In the end, I could not cash in and lost it all. I was fired from two of these companies before my stock options matured, and one barely five months to go when I would be worth millions. At this company, several of my colleagues, including those I hired and trained, who were born here, and made a far lesser contribution to the company than me, had become millionaires by cashing in their stock options. I will share details of this and many corporate American experiences in my blogs. Please send me a note on what you agree with and ask me if you have questions. Also, please tell me about your own experiences of inequity in the corporate world. I hope your experiences were better than my being Three Times a Paper Millionaire!
Charles Town, West Virginia
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