Recovery takes time. Nothing happens overnight but a good night’s rest. Give yourself some time to become adjusted to a new environment, team, and requirements. It’s challenging but you will survive.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Nicole White.
Alexis is a certified senior project manager and scrum master with over ten years of experience supporting enterprise information technology and telecommunications deployments, implementations and integrations. Her specialties include wireless, VoIP, audiovisual, and infrastructure. She is also a published author, who promotes emotional health. Currently, she lives in Atlanta with her six year old son. Find her on LinkedIn.com at http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/AlexisNicoleWhite
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Gary, Indiana, raised in Detroit, Michigan but finished high school in Indianapolis, Indiana. My parents are graduates of Purdue University and came from engineering backgrounds. My father obtained his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Engineering with a specialty in Acoustical Engineering. My mother received her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. Oddly, I was not interested in any type of science, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) activities. I have always been more robust with social sciences, specifically writing and acting, a very creative child. Although I eventually participated in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) in middle school, I had a fine arts passion. I was into poetry, creative writing, acting, and art (drawing and crafting things). I was accepted into the Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts (DSA) for drawing and art before transferring to Indianapolis to finish up a high school there.
I would say that although I was the oddball with my interest, my parents were very supportive of my endeavors. Whenever I would become frustrated and wanted to abandon a new initiative, they would coach me on being resilient, dedicated, committed, and perseverance is essential when facing life’s obstacles.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Two significant life lessons come to mind 1) Never give up, and 2) Don’t accept no for an answer.
In general, as cliché as it may be, the phrase “never give up” has been monumental in my life. Repeatedly, we learn of people who have waited many years to achieve something, and they have experienced significant loss, many setbacks, and faced many obstacles. Yet, they remained dedicated to the outcome. In that, I have learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you may have to start or stop; the principle is that you will never give up as you attempt to achieve the necessary outcome. Be relentless in going after the things that you want in life.
More specifically, my parents taught me never to accept “no” as the final answer. Throughout my life, I’ve watched my mother respectfully challenge decisions that did not land in her favor initially; however, because she refused to accept “no” as being the final answer, she was able to turn things into her favor.
Therefore, as an adult, I never give up because I may have received “no” as an answer. My disposition has become, “okay, if it’s not you, then who can help me?” and I ask for redirection, clarity, or I quietly revisit what I need to review to execute the second time around properly. Nonetheless, I don’t become discouraged or feel defeated. I use that as a guide for better results and room for improvement.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I am inspired by any of the literature or films surrounding the Civil Rights Movement. More specifically, the life of Ambassador Andrew Young and the late Senator John Lewis. Their ability to demonstrate phenomenal character, tenacity, and grit despite the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They didn’t just go home and say, “that’s enough guys,” they collaborated with others who revamped their vision and moved forward. They have dedicated their entire lives to be agents of change, drive growth, encompass, and embody change. Even when that change was a faint, black, and white dream, they persisted until that change was up close and in color. While Senator Lewis is no longer here, he died knowing that change was coming.
It has always been powerful for me because it reaffirmed those life lessons that my parents instilled within me, which is: have a vision, create and follow your plan, be resilient, preserve, don’t accept no for an answer. Hold on, stay tuned; change is coming. It may not happen today, it may be years from now, but you remain diligent, be steadfast, and be encouraged. It is happening!
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, I had been procrastinating in getting my project management certifications. While I had over ten years of experience leading, directing enterprise solutions from inception to launch, I was afraid of taking my career to the next step. Previous fears kept manifesting regarding taking and passing the exam. Although I understudied other project managers and used their words of wisdom to help facilitate my career and grow my income, I was fearful of failing the exam. I relived the anxiety from high school and college of being prepared, knowing the material, and not passing the exam. However, after meeting other certified professionals and participating in professional development groups (International Society of Black Project Managers), I finally mustered the courage to sit for the exam. I had filled out the application three times and never hit submit to sit for the exam. However, I finally obtained the courage and belief in myself to go for it, anyway.
How would it be that the Pandemic hit the week I began the boot camp for the training. I started the class on Monday, and while in course, we were notified that there was an outbreak in the Atlanta area. We were informed that the schools were closed in Fulton county, and I went into straight panic mode. I burst into tears. I had to find childcare for my son for the remainder of the week, worry about his safety and protection while still undergoing this week-long training, and complete my nightly readings. It was very stressful.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
When my employer shut our office doors for the staff’s safety and protection, I negotiated a different parenting schedule with my son’s father. I didn’t want to lose momentum with the boot camp’s knowledge until I could sit for the exam. Therefore, I switched my parental obligations from Monday through Friday to a weekend-only schedule. While this was very difficult for me to separate myself from my son, I understood this was a temporary endeavor. I wanted to maximize my study time to focus on reading the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) in its entirety, review the workshop material, and prepare by taking practice exams. I wanted to utilize every moment of being on lockdown to focus on passing this exam. I repurposed the first four months of the Pandemic to focus on me without any distractions from my personal, professional, or even social life. I realize I am exceptionally blessed to think that this was a time to refocus on who I am, what my goals were, and to achieve them.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
An “Aha moment” came to me amid my morning prayer and meditation as I reflected upon how much God loves me — Alexis Nicole White. I shifted my thoughts to “God loves me so much that he has removed every possible distraction from me to empower me to get this done finally.” It became a “now or never” approach for me.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Since passing my exam in June, I have since undertaken a subsequent certification, my agile or Scrum Master certification. I also resigned from my previous role to accept a new position at another company with a higher salary. Although I am considering giving myself a mental break from studying and learning, I progress with obtaining my Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification.
I will note that initially, I did fail my exam and I was devastated. However, I did not accept no for an answer. I became relentless in passing that exam. I would not accept that I did not meet expectations. After all of the hours of studying, sacrifice, and irritation, I knew I mastered the material. So, I immediately signed up to retake the exam. I decided to start to live a little bit and not let it consume so much of my life. I began to relax as I traveled a little more, resumed some more of my normalcy. The second time, I passed above target. Thus, the life lessons of my parents continue to live on within me.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I must thank my son’s father, Vince. Without his willingness to accommodate me during that time, I would not have dedicated so much time to prepare for either exam. As a business owner, I am confident that digital learning was stressful, as with most parents attempting to work from home. However, he said, “no problem,” to becoming a full-time parent and teacher to a, then, pre-kindergartner.
Next, I must also thank my mother, Dr. Sheila L. Sherman. Over the summer, when we learned that the children would continue remote learning for the 2020–2021 school year, she volunteered to help Vince and I out with my son for the first semester until our local schools formalized a better approach to managing our child’s education injunction with the Coronavirus. My son has been identified as “gifted and talented,” and we had an immediate need to have a more structured learning environment to satisfy his altitude for learning, keep him engaged and continue to challenge his skills. Since we agreed to send him away, our son has not only has been promoted to the first grade, but he has been thriving. He’s been awarded “Student of the Month” and has been identified as a high-performing scholar. So, now, we are teaching my son invaluable lessons about persevering despite “life” happening.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
The most exciting thing is that I’ve received calls and interview requests from some of the tier one companies that I never imaged would be calling me — Alexis Nicole White — and asking me to consider joining their organizations. Whereas I shaped my entire career by companies that would give me a chance, now I was being met between preparation and opportunity.
Roles that I didn’t know were open were forwarded to me for consideration. Not only was I being targeted, but I discovered the potential employers were expediting their processes to ensure they were not going to lose me as a candidate. It reminded me of my worth as an employee. It enabled me to see that not only are my skills are valued, but I am valuable and highly sought after. It confirmed my belief that it doesn’t matter what is going on around me; it’s what I choose to see, and I sought opportunity.
Yes, it is unfortunate as to what has happened to us. Unfortunately, many people lost their jobs, but this is not the time to give up, cave in, and quit. Revamp your resume, sharpen your skills and be relentless about putting yourselves out there.
Let my story be a word to the wise: opportunities you are unaware of are out there, looking for you. Be ready and stay ready so you don’t have to get prepared. I received a telephone call with a request to interview within 30 minutes and had a new job within three weeks.
Good things can still happen to you, and they will happen for you. Do not be discouraged but be encouraged.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Starting a new company while completely remote is more challenging than you think. Unlike before, you do not have the courtesy of becoming new friends with new colleagues and having that personal interaction with others. In order to forge new relationships with others, you will need to virtually connect with people, ask strangers for help and be patient with the lack of response. It is not you, personally; it’s our new normal.
- Be more flexible, patient and compassionate than normal. Everybody is dealing with some extreme situation, circumstance and is juggling many hats. Nobody is intentionally sabotaging anything; we are all distracted and giving our very best.
- Be more understanding that usual. Life is happening all around us. Be gracious.
- Be more kind, patient and compassionate towards yourself. There will be even steeper learning curves to any new organization within this environment. Take it one day at a time, ask a lot of questions and apply the answers. Remember, you are doing the best you can.
- Recovery takes time. Nothing happens overnight but a good night’s rest. Give yourself some time to become adjusted to a new environment, team, and requirements. It’s challenging but you will survive.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Unsubscribe to a lot of the noise, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN or any other news outlet. Practice silence; find ways to pray and meditate on healthy, positive things.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You are the author of your own story. You decide the narrative. You determine the outcome. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Yes, chaos and confusion maybe all around you, it doesn’t have to interrupt your success story.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to have lunch with Mr. Tyler Perry. His life story is remarkable as he has taught us all that when we cannot have a seat at the table, to build your table. I have learned that sometimes, I’m in a standing room only situation, but I will stand until I cannot stand anymore. I will fight until I cannot fight anymore. I will succeed, and when I do, I’ll invite you to my table.
How can our readers follow you online?
Linkedin.com/in/alexisnicolewhite and AlexisNicoleWhite.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!