Have No Fear, Communication Studies Majors!

Last month a staff member from the Biola University career center gave me a call, looking to ask me about what life was like post-graduation as a Communication Studies major. I remember exploring multiple majors in college – from Political Science, to Sociology, and finally to Communication Studies. When I landed in this department during the second semester of my Sophomore year, I recall loving that this major could take me anywhere. However, for some students the ambiguity can feel overwhelming. What can I do with a communication major? Where will interpersonal, organizational, theatrical, or rhetorical communication get me? Would you ever think that a Liberal Arts degree could lead you to the Technology Industry?

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Not too long ago I read an excellent article titled, “Liberal Arts in the Data Age” from the Harvard Business Review, and I remember connecting with some of the main points that the author makes:

  • People are beginning to realize that to effectively tackle today’s biggest social and technological challenges, we need to think critically about their human context—something humanities graduates happen to be well trained to do.
  • If we want to prepare students to solve large-scale human problems, we must push them to widen, not narrow, their education and interests.
  • The CEOs of YouTube, Slack, and AirBnb all have liberal arts degrees.

It has been so exciting to see the industries that my classmates have entered – Entertainment, Action Sports, Fashion, Non-Profit, Education, Photography, and let’s not forget Technology. Students who pursue a Liberal Arts degree should keep their minds open to the possibilities that follow after graduation, including reacting to opportunities outside of their norms. For me, it was accepting a job at a technology company. I remember writing my first ever blog post here about being a “Communication Girl in an Engineering World”and shaking my head at where I’d landed after graduation thinking, “could this industry be any more opposite than me?” Fast forward to three years later and I have grown and progressed professionally more than I could have imagined.

If you are a communications professional, or a student wondering where to use your communication studies education, the options are endless and the technology industry has a place for you. Let’s keep this conversation going – message me on LinkedIn or tweet at me and I’d be happy to chat.

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Why Culture Always Wins

During my three years at Dell EMC, we have consistently achieved “Best Place to Work” status, and recently Dell Technologies has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top Companies of 2017. For me, the driving factor in this success is our emphasis on company culture. As a new company, I credit the efforts that our leadership and transformation teams have placed on creating a foundational culture code.

One of the best articles that I’ve read about Dell’s “Culture Code” is What Makes a Company Great? Culture is Key by Dell’s Chief HR Officer, Steve Price.

“As a company that recently closed one of the biggest tech mergers in history with EMC, we made listening a top priority as we looked to unify our company culture as part of the new Dell Technologies. We turned our collective ears toward team members from both former Dell and EMC to define our corporate culture as the driver of how we run the business, go to market, work effectively together and provide inspirational leadership.”

As both a communicator and a team member at Dell EMC, watching the communications unfold to promote our culture code has been amazing, and our internal communications team has done a great job.

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I’ve really appreciated the way that our culture code is organized because it is easy to embed into the communications I craft for the Chief Technology Officer and his team. For example, at quarterly All Hands meetings we are able to dedicate time to connecting our major wins to our fives values that you see above, which makes the direct connection between the work that people do, and the organizational culture.

In his most recent Direct2Dell article, Steve Price addresses the importance of effective leadership development in the area of supporting and inspiring company culture. He says that it is expected for leaders to embed these values into the way they run their business units, and I couldn’t agree more. In the end, if our leaders and team members are in, our customers are in, and then we all #GoBigWinBig!

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2016: The Year of Change

If I could write a story headline for 2016 I would choose: “2016 brings tumultuous change, opportunity”

If I could pick three phrases to describe 2016 I would choose: “Patience”+ “Confidence” + “Business as Usual” 

If I could write a blog post about my professional year in 2016 I would say:

2016 brought unexpected change with the announcement of my company’s acquisition. I laugh as I write this because one should ALWAYS expect change, especially during such a time as now when many companies are pairing up with their “dancing partners” to re-evaluate their businesses, partner together, and make waves within the industry. The days leading up to the early September merge were ones of anticipation, as we were told to continue business as usual, and practice patience with all of our might. When you know that major changes are coming, you want to do all that you can to prepare, but at a certain point you must take a deep breath and mentally prepare yourself knowing you are not the one responsible for making the change. 

Overall, my year was great. I continued working with a strong group of professionals as we polished our best practices, learned more about how to engage our community, and truly enjoyed each other’s company. 

Highlights for me at work this year included:

  • Running a diversity & inclusion campaign in early 2016 
  • Collaborating with the Social Media team as a live blogger on “Day 1” of Dell Technologies 
  • Tapping into my creative side as I learned to use Adobe Illustrator
  • Participating in the local Asian Circle Diwali festival and winning a prize for participating in their fashion show
  • Planning and executing a successful innovation event in December, bringing together 10 global locations and 700 participants
  • Transitioning into a new role with support from the people in my professional life who matter the most

During a year long acquisition you are tempted to give up, to be pessimistic, to speculate…but in the end I learned that your reaction to change is what will set you apart (and also keep you sane!)

4 months post-acquisition I am proud to say I was and am a part of the largest, most tumultuous merger in the history of the technology industry. Now that 2016 is behind me, I look to 2017 with confidence for whatever it may bring. Happy Holidays, friends!

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Welcome to Dell Technologies

Before entering the technology industry I had not considered the rate at which things would change. Within one year at EMC I had three different managers, and within two years I belong to a totally different company. You may have heard that my company was involved in the biggest merger in the history of the tech industry! I now belong to a group of companies called Dell Technologies, and EMC was bought by Dell for an amount of cash so large that I cannot even fathom it ($67 Billion)! We officially became “Dell EMC” on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, and the future looks bright for us.

As I sat at the Dell Technologies Celebration in Palo Alto, CA today, I could not hold back the nostalgia that I was experiencing. I remember that day in October when I found out EMC was being acquired; I remember the roller coaster of emotions the past year has brought; and I know how inspired I felt today surrounded by 140,000 of my new team members around the globe as we celebrated Dell Technologies.

I’ve had many conversations recently about what I have learned during the time period of October 2015-September 2016 – the time during which I waited for the deal to close. Since this was the first time I had ever been involved with a merger, let alone one of this scale, I was given the advice early on to sit back and observe…so I did! Lessons learned? Plenty. Let me share some of those with you:

  • Patience is a virtue. As I explained earlier, it took almost 1 year for the Dell and EMC deal to close. Practicing patience allowed me to slowly take in all of the information that was coming my way!
  • Expect to experience an overflow of emotions. Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment as I share that throughout the past year I have felt shock, excitement, anxiety, fear, and joy…on repeat. Although not many colleagues at work shared these true emotions, I’m sure that I couldn’t have been the only one.
  • Brace yourself for speculations. When there is a waiting period of almost 1 year, there are many speculations that are made over time. For me, I trusted my leadership to be transparent (which they were), sat back, and observed – that helped me to “keep my cool” when I did hear chatter of those speculations.
  • “Business as usual.” Just because your company is being sold does not mean that your work will cease to exist! Keep working hard.

Change is constant in the technology industry, and some of the most important lessons that I have learned are how to adapt to those changes. I’m thankful for my time with EMC, and look forward to the dawn of this new era with DELL EMC!

Photos from our Dell Technologies Celebration, where I was a live blogger for our remote viewers.