“When you take all that we encompass and the drive that we have, it’s to any company’s benefit to have us at the forefront.”

Sales Manager Danielle Skeen’s growth mindset and passion for empowering her team tie back to her Jamaican roots.

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica — so culturally, I’m 100% Jamaican. My memories of my childhood in Jamaica are those of island life, the beach, family outings, and of education being extremely important. I remember feeling like there was nothing that I could not accomplish because of growing up on an island that was predominantly Black. Our national heroes, our Prime Minister, and so many people in different leadership positions all looked like me.

My journey to joining Microsoft was an interesting one. While living in New York and working in advertising, I remember being very curious about the client side and also about the tech industry. A few months later, I met a recruiter for Microsoft and I learned about an Account Manager position. Eight years later, I’m now a Sales Manager on the Advertising Sales team here in our Atlanta office.

Prior to moving to Atlanta, I spent two years as the Vice Chair of the New York/New Jersey chapter of the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) Employee Resource Group as well as the global BAM team as the Chair for the External Connections Team. It’s been a great way to connect with our community inside and outside of the company. My involvement in BAM both globally and in Atlanta has been fulfilling because it has tied my passion for philanthropy to my day-to-day work at Microsoft.

Empowerment is a personal value of mine, so to work for a company that’s also aligned with that mission has been rewarding. This year when I became a people manager, something I thought would never happen, it was a dream realized. As a manager I’ve found that it’s important to celebrate other people’s wins while still finding opportunities to learn and create.

For Black women in the workplace, I think seeing possibilities is important. If I had had a Black manager at Microsoft five years ago, my trajectory would have been different. Black women get things done, and the sad part of us getting things done is that it came out of necessity. For so long, we were not getting opportunities, so we had to create them. Black women are natural innovators. So when you take all that we encompass and the drive that we have, it’s to any company’s benefit to have us at the forefront. When it comes to pouring into others and coaching and guiding others and setting up businesses for success, I think it’s something we innately possess. But for so long we weren’t given those opportunities, especially in tech.

When I think of inclusion, I think of visibility. Diversity looks like, “Okay, there are other Black people here in the workplace.” But when we’re included, that means seeing Black people in decision-making and leadership roles. Does everyone have an active voice? Are we making decisions? Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.

To find more stories like Danielle’s visit: aka.ms/InclusionIsInnovation/BlackandAfricanAmerican