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Every Journey Begins with a Single Step

Nine years ago I graduated with a Masters in Human Resources Management.

At this stage in my career, I reflect on my journey with absolute joy. As I reflect on the last nine years since I graduated and the many years that led to that day, I am thankful. Today feels like a fun day to share some of my story.

To start, I am the youngest of three. Neither of my parents attended college. They were both the eldest child of large Catholic families. They met on a blind date and within a year, they were married. Growing up conversations about my future life or career didn't exist. Conversations instead were focused on graduating high school. That said, I didn't have big dreams or ambitions early in life.

To add to that, my mom left shortly after I graduated high school. It was a toxic end with my parents and several years later they divorced. I don't share these details for sympathy, we as a family have moved on and don't live in the past. It did however have a huge impact for me in the years that followed high school. I won't get into the detail of those years but I will say, it was a rocky road for me.

The best outcome from my journey was the day I decided to pursue my education. I went to night school while working three jobs to support myself. I didn't take an easy path at all. I thankfully met and married my best friend after years of all the wrong relationships and for the first time in my life, I had someone by my side who believed I could be anything.

I graduated with my Master's degree in Human Resources and started to aim high for my next steps. It really amazes me to look back and think of the handful of people who truly saved me and helped me to change my stars simply by believing I could. After working in HR for a few years I landed at a wonderful small organization.

I had a love of data and numbers and felt eager to bring HR metrics to an organization that never had a large dedicated HR team. I will never forget the day I first met Jeff Shaffer and Dinushki DeLivera. If you know them in the Tableau community, you might also know how much I love and respect them both. I sat down with my pretty Excel spreadsheet and shared my HR metrics with Jeff. He said, this is good but let's get this into Tableau. Little did I know that was the spark and conversation that changed my path.

Jeff had me meet with Dinushki. She was our business intelligence analyst and would be the one to help me build a dashboard, whatever that meant. We met a few times and she began working. The first day I saw her dashboard and Tableau I was instantly amazed. In high school, I dreamt of attending art school and I did very well in my math classes but never imagined a career in either. As my dad would say, there isn't money in art. Sitting before me was someone who found a career celebrating two things I knew I loved, it was incredible.

The months that passed after our first meetings were the breadcrumbs that shaped these last several years for me. Dinushki and I became fast friends and rather than building a dashboard for HR she began teaching me Tableau. Dinushki became the second person to believe in me. I started playing more in Tableau and picked up a few things. A few months went by and the organization hired another BI specialist named Kevin Flerlage. He had a portfolio of work he published on Tableau Public. From that moment on, I began spending more time hanging out with our BI team than the HR team. They often joked I just needed a desk in the corner. I never took that comment seriously. I was curious but had an education and career in HR.

Then the unthinkable happened. My HR Director and good friend, Blair Kamrass approached me and asked if I ever considered switching roles and working with the BI team. I didn't know how to respond. I was already living a dream no one in my family could have imagined, I had an education and career. I wasn't working in manual labor like my dad or working odd jobs like my mom so why rock the boat? It was that day that I realized I had several people who believed in me and in that moment maybe believed more in me than I did in myself. I was setting limits to what I thought I was capable of becoming. It took me several months to consider what Blair asked. I worried that switching careers and 'abandoning' my education wasn't a safe risk to take. I worked so hard to achieve what I had and starting all over seemed reckless.

At that point, I was a mom of twin boys and found out I was pregnant again with believe it or not twin boys. The journey Ethan and I went through to conceive and the broken path it took to find Ethan to begin with, I didn't think becoming a mom was in the stars for me. And yet, I was being blessed in abundance. Something in my head just clicked. Here I was with so many blessings around me including the wonderful supportive husband and coworkers, it was time I started believing in myself and taking some risks. I went to work, sat down with Blair, and said, I'm all in. I want it. That was the day I started believing what they saw, I could do it.

I will admit imposter syndrome creeps in still from time to time. I think I don't have what it takes to succeed and maybe I have achieved the most I ever will. Those are the days I like to remember the impact a few people believing in me had and what it took to make the first few steps forward. To this day my greatest passion is championing and supporting others. The way I see it, we will never know the impact kindness and support may have on someone else but I know the impact it had on me. I only hope to be an Ethan, Dinshki, Blair, Kevin, Jeff, or the many others I could name for someone else. If you find yourself needing someone in your corner, send me a message I would be glad to know or support you. Everything journey begins with a single step.


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