How I Started in STEM with VP Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at GoDaddy Kristy Lilas: Diverse teams are Innovative teams
Kristy Lilas is the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at GoDaddy. Her background in building innovative programs and executing change management combined with her personal intersectional identities culminated into roles dedicated to implementing holistic and integrated programs around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
How did you get started?
I knew that I loved all things STEM when I realized how much science and technology and the maths and engineering really affect our day to day and really impact our lives. When I had the opportunity to come join this industry, specifically focused on small business owners and entrepreneurs, and the technologies that they used to be successful, I realized that there was the possibility for such a broad social impact there, especially as we could focus on those coming from marginalized backgrounds or underserved communities and the way that technology could really influence their lives and our broader society.
What was the best advice you received in your career
So, the best advice that I got was to say, "You should really actually focus on the people around you, and think about the kind of people that you want around you, and make sure that you're ending up in places and on teams and in companies that have those people, because they will truly influence your happiness in the day to day, and they will influence where you can go in your career. And all of that combined with finding work that you love is what really makes the work truly inspiring and truly just something you
want to wake up and do every day."
Importance of representation and diversity in STEM
A lot of research shows that most diverse teams are the ones that actually are the most innovative and the most successful. So, I've been able to swap that challenge in for what it is, which is really a success and something that I shouldn't and am confident in to say, "I'm coming in with new ideas, I'm coming in with new perspectives and experiences, and those are only going to help this team." And I think they know that. So, over time, I think, well, difference, diversity can initially feel like a challenge. It actually really, truly is a strength that underpins just about everything that we do. And those of us who leverage that and value that are the ones who I think will always be most successful.
Things to look for in prospective employers
For anyone who identifies as gender nonconforming, non-binary, or transgender, I know that the interview process can be especially stressful. It's always been one of the things that I feel most scared about anytime that I've considered changing jobs. It was especially difficult for me early in my career to think about how that might impact me.
Couple pieces of advice for you are to realize that if a company is not going to respect who you are when you show up to that interview, that's not the company you want to work for. You're going to find a company who really values you and your identity and who sees that value and wants to bring that value into their company and actually empower you as an individual. So, in some ways, it may be frustrating if you feel like you're not necessarily getting the warmest reception, but to be honest, that's an organic way to weed out the places that you just don't want to work.
Otherwise, I'd say, just be confident in yourself. I don't believe I've ever really interviewed for a job that I had direct experience in before, but I was able to talk about my skills and how those skills were transferable. And I just let my personality speak for itself. And that's what always got me hired in every job. So, have confidence in yourself and you'll find the right place for you.