Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast

Developing Diverse Technical Talent: The Akamai Story

October 11, 2021 Maria Melfa & Jocelyn Allen Season 1 Episode 10
Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast
Developing Diverse Technical Talent: The Akamai Story
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we speak with Magda Bukala, the Diversity Inclusion and Social Responsibility Manager II, and ATA Global Project Manager at Akamai Technologies. 

Magda takes a deep dive into the origins of the Akamai Technical Academy (ATA), a training program for diverse talent, specifically people with the aptitude for technology who might not come from typical technical backgrounds. Magda discusses the candidate process and experience, the profound impact ATA had on Akamai and its employees, and how the program went on to win a 2020 Brandon Hall Group Award for Excellence in Learning. 

Tune in and discover how your organization can develop strong talent from non-traditional backgrounds and diversify your workforce.

Maria Melfa: [00:00:05] Welcome everyone to bring out the talent. My name is Maria Melfa and I am the president and CEO of The Training Associates.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:00:12] Hello, everyone. My name is Jocelyn Allen. I’m a talent recruitment manager here at TTA, and we’re thrilled that you’re joining us for another episode. And back by popular demand, we have our co-host again.

John Laverdure: [00:00:24] That would be John Laverdure, Director of Learning Solutions here at TTA.

Maria Melfa: [00:00:27] Thank you for joining us again today, John. Well, we are very excited for our special guest today who is joining us all the way from Krakow, Poland. Magdalena Bukola Magda is a diversity and inclusion team member in the ATA Global Project Manager at Akamai. Akamai is a global content delivery network, cybersecurity, and cloud service company providing web and internet security services. Akamai services include Edge Security, Web and mobile performance, enterprise access, and video delivery solutions. Today, Akamai has hired almost 9000 employees globally and serves over 6000 customers. Magda is responsible for the global planning and delivery of the Akamai Technical Academy. Magda is a true change advocate. She completed a degree in European studies studied in the Netherlands, Turkey, and Poland. For 15 years, Magda worked in a BPO business, transitioning accounting projects from Benelux countries to Poland and leading a dynamic training team. She is inspired by the tremendous progress she sees and the ATA  program, which was the recipient of the 2020 Brandon Hall Award for Excellence in Learning. Magda is committed to Akamai’s mission of making the company an inclusive place to work. Personally, Magna is a mom of two boys. She loves individual sports and especially mud racing, but only if she’s winning. Welcome, Magda.

Magda (Akamai): [00:02:11] Yeah. Yeah. Doesn’t that say we just started with my family, but I think that’s something that I will definitely pursue and keep on doing, so we’re just preparing for another race, actually.

Maria Melfa: [00:02:20] When will that be?

Magda (Akamai): [00:02:21] In about a month?

Maria Melfa: [00:02:22] Oh, that’s fantastic. So how long have you been doing that for

Magda (Akamai): [00:02:25] Just a couple of months now? So I started this season. Yeah, and the kids have grown, so I actually have right now the opportunity to sign them up for every competition there is. So that’s what I’m planning to do. Yeah.

Maria Melfa: [00:02:38] What a great thing to do with your kids. Great bonding experience.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:02:42] So, Magda, we have a great relationship with you here at TTA. We have worked with Akamai for quite some time. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and what brought you to Akamai?

Magda (Akamai): [00:02:52] Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much for having me. This is actually the first podcast that I’m doing, so I was really excited to be here with you guys today and for Akamai. You know, I would say that it was curiosity at first because I spent over 15 years in the BPO business, and I just had a very general idea of what I think companies are like. In fact, I think I was actually after my second maternity leave and the company that I was working for was closing. So I figured that it might be a good time to start and just search for something new. And then I just saw this cool job description. They were searching for a coach to fill in the position in the technical academy. So I felt that this might be something really interesting. And only in later I just found out that it brought two of my biggest passions so developing people, but also running a large project. So that’s a long story short. Those would be probably the things that were really interesting to me in the beginning.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:03:52] It sounds pretty serendipitous that you were able to take two of your passions and develop them all in one role or one company. It’s it sounds like it’s the right fit for you for those who maybe don’t know about Akamai. Can you tell us a little bit more about the company and what you guys do, what your offerings are?

Magda (Akamai): [00:04:09] The company was founded in 1998 by Dr. Tom Leighton, who is still the CEO of the company and then the Lewin. And in general, Akamai secures and delivers digital experiences for the largest companies. So in simple terms, and I’m not a very technical person myself, so this really works for me. I would say that we have customers who want the websites to work really fast, and we do this by distributing content from locations nearest to the user. We want to make sure that the internet is secure and reliable, so that’s what we are really focusing on.

John Laverdure: [00:04:44] So, Magda, let’s talk about what brought TTA and Akamai together the Akamai Technical Academy, also known as ATA. What is the ATA and what inspired it?

Magda (Akamai): [00:04:55] Sure, thank you. That’s a great question. So this is a really incredible training program for diverse talent, people with the aptitude for technology who might not come from a typical technical background. So imagine that you have worked as an elementary school teacher, but we always had this passion for technology. And you know, we might have been building some websites or programming on a site. You really like to know what’s on the tech market. So this is typically the audience that is interested in pursuing their paths within the technical academy. And the trick here is that they never had the chance to really start working in our business. So what I did is that we figured out that we’re going to create a program that is going to grow our internal talent and find those really smart people on the market who just want to who just want to change, you know, they want to do something connected with it.

Maria Melfa: [00:05:51] Where would you find these people and was there any certain demographic that you are looking for

Magda (Akamai): [00:05:56] For the demographic looking at the experiences that we had so far and right now, we are currently finishing the ninth edition. I would say that we usually have people in between their 20s up until the sixties. So we also have some seniors and I’m really always very excited to have some senior participants in the program. Also depends on the particular country where we are actually doing the ATA and we just find them, you know, they actually really want to be found. So in terms of the volume of candidates that apply for the program in Krakow, for the nine, we had over 600 applicants. So that’s definitely a lot. And then in Costa Rica, to compare, we had over three thousand five hundred applicants. So if you can just think of it thinking about the numbers, we only had 15 positions to fill. So definitely that speaks for itself, that the interested in interest in the program like that is really, really huge with its observations of our business. And we’re thinking about what makes the company really successful and kind of who feels the strongest connection to the company values. And we came to discover that the curiosity and the. For technology that we share, it’s what really makes Akamai great. And since we look at diversity quite holistically, so you know you have the cognitive diversity, so how you think, what you’re trying to solve problems, and the identity diversity. So that’s all of who you are. Race, gender, religion. We’ve decided that we’re going to launch this great program and just give the opportunity to those amazingly talented people to start working in Akamai.

John Laverdure: [00:07:37] That’s great.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:07:38] It is. It’s such a cool idea. Like, imagine that you find a company that’s ready to be like, no, we want to teach you things. We want to inspire you to want to work here. That is such an exciting thing that you guys are taking on. I’m happy to hear that it’s been so successful for you.

Magda (Akamai): [00:07:53] In the beginning, we’re really stressed to see what are the end results going to be? Are the people going to be very motivated? Will they feel the Akamai spirit when they join the company? But we were really surprised with the results, and I hope we’re going to talk about them maybe later in the conversation that we just found out that they are not only what we expected, but they are just so much more.

John Laverdure: [00:08:16] Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s great for TTA to be a part of a program that has so much substance just so our listeners can better envision the Akamai Technical Academy program. Can you tell us a little bit about its structure? Like, for instance, its duration and topics?

Magda (Akamai): [00:08:32] The program itself can be divided into two parts. The training is a five-month-long endeavor that ends with a placement process. This is the critical moment where all the cohort members are distributed among the Akamai teams that have decided to take part in this particular edition. And next to that, we have a couple of months-long contract phases where the cohort members get exposed to their new tasks. So in total, we are talking about a program that lasts for more or less 11 months. So it’s a lot of work to pull this off. Remembering that we are talking about people from non-technical backgrounds, we really wanted to build a solid base for them to start working in IT. So what we are doing is that we are running seven technical modules, including those that are really critical for Akamai as a whole. So we have the security, we have networking databases, we have programming modules and so on, as well as a range of source skills trainings because we’re talking about five months of training, right, eight hours a day. So it’s a lot to build. We have some personal development workshops led by the coach who is always with the class. And since I came around a couple of years ago, I was really keen to include as much Akamai specific content as possible, because the aim here for me was to grow the network of people that the ATA  folks are going to know when they finish the course. So instead of being familiar only with the recruiter and the manager, like for a regular hire, you actually start working knowing your fellow classmates, people from the business, sometimes even the CEO, Dr. Tom Leighton, who is a huge advocate of the program and always pays us a visit. So how cool is that right? You have the network; you have the support group. And so everything is just pretty much set for success. That’s what we always hope for with this program.

John Laverdure: [00:10:27] Well, it’s clearly been successful so far. I think that’s apparent from the results and what we’ve seen and witnessed here at TTA. You know, there’s a lot of moving pieces to a program like this, especially one that’s five months long and touches on so many topics and has soft skills and hard skills all mixed together. What role is it that you saw TTA playing throughout a program like this

Magda (Akamai): [00:10:51] Amazing partner, and I just really couldn’t be happier that we are working on this together. First of all, you guys are responsible for selecting the best technical instructors for the program and just providing high quality technical content, which is really great. The instructors are delivering all the technical courses. They are leading the assessments and labs that we are doing at the end of every course. And next to that, as I kind of learned throughout the years, your company is really keen on managing risks and surely puts customer interests at first. So we do all of that with a great sense of humor, which always helps. And our meetings, as you can probably hopefully confirm, I’ve always had a fun experiences, so I really like that.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:11:36] You were speaking Magda to the amount of candidates and applicants that you had for this program, that it was overwhelming in several different countries that you were outreaching to. Now the process of selecting these candidates, your final candidates, we understand, was pretty involved. Could you tell us a little bit more about this process and how you came down to the group of people that are in the program currently?

Magda (Akamai): [00:12:03] This is definitely a very complex process, and it takes a couple of weeks to get the final group what we start off with and. It’s also a huge team effort, so we first do a targeted campaign in the place where the ATA is going to be. We are searching for the right profile of candidates. Next, we are asking the recruits to go through an online analytical test. And the second thing would be the English comprehension test because we want to make sure that all of them are going to be able to successfully go through training and they are learning in English no matter what the location, what location we were talking about. The last stage is meeting the project team and the recruiters for some group activities that I’m meeting and the one-to-one recruitment sessions. So it is really a long process, but it’s definitely worth it. And I have this thing that I really want to get to know every single person from the final group of candidates. So I usually interview 50 to 70 candidates. At least I want to see them as a group. So it takes a lot of a lot of nerve and sometimes it’s very entertaining and fun. But for the most part, it just takes a number of hours to prepare and then to make sure that we just have the right candidates.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:13:20] Speaking from the perspective of being a candidate for job opportunities before I can tell you that your time invested is absolutely worth it because there’s nothing better than knowing that the person who headlined something or has such a huge part in what you are participating in wants to be involved and get to know you speak volumes to the people in the program that would have further inspired them to keep going. Magnus So that was absolutely worth it and I think speaks volumes about yourself and how seriously you take your role and the growth of your people, but also Akamai and how they’re dedicated to the growth of their professionals. It’s an amazing thing.

Magda (Akamai): [00:13:58] Thank you for that, and I surely feel responsible from the beginning till the end of the whole process. But I also want to make sure that guys who are going to be successful and will join the company are going to recognize, remember my face, get a good impression of how the company operates, but also for those who are not successful this time, I want them to have a good experience because this is how Akamai works, so I want them to see smiling faces. I want them to know that they are excited that we are doing great things because maybe they would want to sign up for the next cohort. And that’s actually something that we usually get feedback that although someone was rejected or didn’t make it through, so the final round people are really happy with how we let the interview phase, so I’m really proud about it.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:14:44] That’s half the battle, right? There is providing a good experience to somebody who doesn’t get the answer that they want at the end. That’s huge. So kudos to Akamai and Magda for that. That’s huge.

Maria Melfa: [00:14:55] Tell us some of your favorite things about the ATA program.

Magda (Akamai): [00:14:58] I recently had a conversation with my husband about it because he asks something similar, and I came to discover that I really like it, which is kind of surprising to me when the government starts asking difficult questions. They start getting impatient. They become quite demanding because this is the time when I really know that we created a healthy environment where they can feel comfortable to ask questions, to discuss, to test the solutions that we are giving them. So it kind of exemplifies how it is to work in diverse teams because it’s not always easy, but it’s surely creative and liberating. So that’s what I definitely like most, although it’s not the easiest moment during the training as a whole.

Maria Melfa: [00:15:41] Have you had many candidates leave the program because they could not handle the demands of it?

Magda (Akamai): [00:15:48] The answer would be no. No matter the location, we just make sure that we have the right candidates, and they fit the profile within the company culture. But there is a huge support system. So I’m the spokesperson for this interview, but we have a whole team. We have someone who has gone through eighty-eight, one point, Oh, and she’s still with our team right now. She joined the diversity and inclusion team, actually and is also running the A-Team with me. And at the same time, the company is really keen on keeping all the people that successfully go through the program. So the end result is that if we have 15 hires, 15 people go through ATA, we want to keep all of them. And this is really comfortable because we’re making all the attempts to do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone is going to be successful and happy with the program and in the end, happy with the company as well.

Maria Melfa: [00:16:42] That’s an incredible retention rate.

John Laverdure: [00:16:44] So, Magda, earlier you mentioned how strong performance-wise the program was and how successful the candidates are that came through the program. Can you tell us a little bit about how this has compared to other talent acquisition strategies used at Akamai?

Magda (Akamai): [00:16:57] I can sum it up in pretty much three words. Looking at the indicators and we already had this program run for five years, so we have a lot of data. There is higher diversity, for sure. Lower attrition and higher acuity review notes for the employees who have gone through it. I think actually that’s due to motivation that the guys have to succeed because just thinking about the fact that they actually get a chance, you know, this great opportunity to start working in our business, they are at the peak of their learning curve, so they are really fast to pass technical certification. And that’s always a plus looking from the business perspective. And they also have huge self-discipline. They’ve been learning for a number of months, right? Then they hit the floor. They start working in their particular teams, and then they are finally signing the full-time contracts with Akamai on just some of the most amazing positions. So they are really eager to be successful.

John Laverdure: [00:17:56] And I love learning evaluation. I think it helps organizations better understand what they’re learning. Dollars are going to words and what impact it’s being made to the business as far as the Akamai Technical Academy program. What measurement techniques were employed to gauge the effectiveness of the program?

Magda (Akamai): [00:18:16] So I really hate measuring things, but I know that it’s necessary, right? Especially for the business. But we measure a whole lot of indicators. So next to the ones that I mentioned already with the satisfaction surveys after every technical module. So to really make sure that the instructors are doing a good job, that classmates are really feeling happy about how the classes are being led. We do assessments and we finish every blog with a practical case study. We have this amazing person that I already talked about, Bill Young, who is surveying the participants, and she’s on the project team right now. So she gathers all the numbers that we need and then, later on, presents them to senior staff. And in 2020, we won the Brandon Hall Group Silver Award for Excellence in Learning together with you guys. So I guess this speaks for itself that the program has a long history of success and that we are making everything we can to make sure that that’s how it’s going to be.

Maria Melfa: [00:19:18] We were very excited to win that award with you. Magda, the 2020 Brennan Hall Group Silver Award for Excellence in Learning.

John Laverdure: [00:19:27] Well, Maggie, do we know how much you like winning? So we had to do our part to help out there.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:19:34] So were there any challenges that you had to overcome during the course of this program? We know that it’s a big one. You know, nine cohorts starting your 10th, right? Can you talk to us about any challenges that you face and how you overcame them?

Magda (Akamai): [00:19:49] Firstly, I am still working on my personal ability to let go of things that I have no influence on because as I mentioned, I feel really responsible for the success of this project, such as my team does. And it does happen that I’m simply doing too much, or I try too hard and then I get frustrated. So I think many of us have that right if you are really passionate about what you’re doing. Probably the second thing that I would mention is that there are always situations that we cannot prepare for and that require our special care and effort. During each five months, I saw children being born, you know, relationships formed. So we even have a couple who got engaged during the course of the ATA, but we also witnessed some personal drama. So I’m really fortunate to have inspiring mentors outside of the program. I can ask for guidance and support whenever there are some personal circumstances that really require it. But it’s a lot of months. It’s worth only about 11 months of the full program, right? So yeah, and a lot of things can happen.

Maria Melfa: [00:20:53] I know over the last few years you started doing two programs simultaneously. Did that create more challenges?

Magda (Akamai): [00:21:01] How come I have decided that we’re going to give it a go and try to launch the one cohort into locations at the same time? So we actually formed one group with the guys from Krakow, Poland, and then San Jose, Costa Rica. You can imagine, apart from the cultural differences, the fact that we had a seven-hour time difference. And then on top of that, we have instructors flying in from the US, from PTA to either one of those locations, and dialing in with the other side of the world. So the fact that it was so technologically dependent was really stressing me out every morning. You know, I just wasn’t sure if we’re going to be able to open our laptops and see this the second part of the class, see the instructors. And I got to tell you, I don’t know if that’s lucky or if it’s actually good planning. I hope that it’s the second option that we haven’t had a single technical issue during the whole five months of training. So that’s really extraordinary and it’s let us prepare. It allowed us to prepare for the. Covid situation so far, the 9.0 right now when we are in the full virtual mode, so we’re very fortunate to actually have that semi-virtual experience

Jocelyn Allen: [00:22:20] Before going back to what you were speaking to Magda about the flexibility of the program, adjusting to changes, and having a good support system to in order to keep going. 2020 kind of threw a wrench at everybody and was like, oh, you think you’re versatile? You think you’re agile, try a pandemic. So how did that affect this ongoing program since it started, you know, years before that and is still continuing, successfully ready to move on to something new? How were you able to shift accordingly and still maintain the program at the standards that you have for it?

Magda (Akamai): [00:22:56] The pandemic hit during the last two weeks of the 8.0, so we knew already that the 9.0 is going to be totally different and we close the offices. It was quite tricky. We thought about different solutions, but what we did is that we prepared for the full virtual recruitment and the program delivery. So that’s a first. We have the instructors right now dialing in from the US, which actually proves to be quite convenient. Some of them have to wake up really early, depending on where they’re situated, situated in the US, but it is working out quite well. We had to go through the content review just to make sure that it’s accurate to our full virtual delivery. So that’s where you guys stepped in and you did an amazing job and the content is really spot on for this particular class. I would say that it was truly heavier on the project manager as all the information was needed to be forwarded by email to all the stakeholders. And that’s a lot of writing right now instead of just quickly, you know, knocking on somebody’s doors to ask a question. These were some of the things that we had to prepare for to launch the 9.0, but so far, so good.

John Laverdure: [00:24:09] The programs evolved quite a bit over the multiple iterations that we’ve had. I remember when we first started, the program was fully in person and then we did that dual location or kind of hybrid, in-person, and virtual that you uteri talked about. And now, most recently, we’ve gone to full virtual. I’m curious what you see for changes coming up for future iterations, the next program?

Magda (Akamai): [00:24:33] So I would say that every cohort is different because the business needs keep on changing. So after the two locations, the seven-hour time difference, and the semi-virtual class, I really feel that nothing is going to surprise us, right? And then the COVID hit. So I’m pretty much making no attempts to predict what the future will bring. And I just kind of right now focus on landing everyone from the nine-point happily in their new teams. And for the future, we’re going to see we had an idea about maybe targeting smaller Akamai offices, doing maybe a European version, then the U.S. version. We think about different markets. We are thinking, maybe Israel. We also had this idea about making specific data related to security, you know, or networking. So there are a lot of plans, but it really depends on where the company is going to go and also what is going to be the next focus area for Akamai as a whole. Right now, we really heavily invested in a security, so we’ll see what the future will bring. But it’s definitely going to be exciting and that’s the only thing that I can be sure about.

Maria Melfa: [00:25:45] So I know in the beginning we talked about how you have executive sponsorship directly from the CEO. How do you believe that that has made such a significant impact and made the program more successful?

Magda (Akamai): [00:25:59] First of all, this is a program that is critically important for Akamai as a whole because this is not strictly. This is not just another hiring initiative, this is a diversity and inclusion program, and Akamai is really keen on diversity, inclusion, and engagement. We have Harvard Business Review writing about us. We have been publishing a lot of videos about ATA. We have incredible internal advocates of the program, but also looking from the employee’s perspective, I would say that for them, this is something that they are really proud of. Even the fact that we have the ATA branded gadgets, these are the ones that people who have not even gone through the program always ask me about because they want to wear them. They feel that the program is interesting, that it adds a huge value to the company as a whole. And I do this tiny overview of ATA for the new joiners whenever we have a new batch of folks joining our incredible company. And I tell them about I come and immediately after about sorry, I tell them about the ATA. And immediately after we finish the session, I always get two free messages. Is asking about the next cohort, one is going to launch what is the location because people really feel excited that maybe their friends, family members will have this opportunity to also join our business and work in this incredible atmosphere. So yeah, I think that’s a great program and it was life-changing for the participants, but it’s also a life-changing experience for me.

Maria Melfa: [00:27:36] An amazing story, and it just shows how important it is for, especially for a program like this. And you hear a lot of success stories about diversity and inclusion programs when they do have the sponsorship from the top down.

Magda (Akamai): [00:27:51] What’s also important is the fact that the ATA is demand-driven. So to launch a class, I do need to have confidence that the business is going to accept and have spots for participants that have gone through the 80s. So that’s where I actually start. That’s how I decide on which locations are we going to open it up for one day?

Maria Melfa: [00:28:13] John came to me and said, We need to send a Billy Bass Fish plaque. Isn’t that what it’s called the Billy the Big Mouth Bass Fish? So I know we had our marketing person looking for one, and we ended up sending you one. What’s the story behind that?

Magda (Akamai): [00:28:34] Oh my gosh, you know, I don’t even know where to start. This is probably one of the biggest surprises of my life, to be honest with you guys. And that’s really surprising. I’ve never had a chance to go to the states. I planned a number of times, but I never actually went. And so I am a huge fan of The Sopranos, and in one of the episodes, I just saw the sinking trout, as I call it, just hanging on the wall of Tony, Soprano’s Place or restaurant, I think, and I just fell in love with it. So I told John at one of the meetings that I would love to go to the US. And the first thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to buy the sinking trout. So then you can imagine how surprised I was when I got a delivery to my house and my kids opened the package and what they found inside was the award that I was really waiting for. And then the singing trout. So yeah, and I remember talking to my husband about it, and he really understands the concept behind getting the award. And it’s so nice that you guys shipped it to me so that I can look at it every day. But what is the trout about? Nothing. And I try to keep it on one of my shelves, but it’s just kept on stealing it. That’s so I love that. I know that that was a great story, and I literally had the photo of me holding this trout is sent to all of my friends. So I think this is just a bonus factor of cooperating with you guys. You know, the sense of humor and the surprise that there is with every meeting that we have. It’s yeah, it’s lovely. So thank you for that. Thanks so much.

Maria Melfa: [00:30:11] No, absolutely. Matter of fact, my father, actually, when he was working in the company before he retired, he had that on his wall. So we actually used to play it all the time. So, no, I love that. I’m glad they were able to find one.

Magda (Akamai): [00:30:27] On the contrary, when I show it to some of the folks that have never watched Sopranos or they have no idea what’s that about, and I’m so happy and excited to show them the best gifts that I give that I got. I just sold it, show them the fish, and they just look at me and I couldn’t do that. So it’s difficult to explain it to someone who really doesn’t have a clue.

Maria Melfa: [00:30:46] That’s so funny. They all probably think you’re an avid fisher. Yeah, when they leave your house feeling very sad for you and how excited you are about your fake fish? No, it is fine. So absolutely, I like it, too.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:31:00] Magda, we have talked in depth about this program at Akamai, the ATA program, and it is so insightful. It is inspiring. It’s eye-opening. I think it’s incredible what you guys have created, and it seems that you’ve done it kind of ahead of the game. It’s a focus of a lot of companies to create an inclusive and diverse environment and to bring new strong candidates that can represent their company well. It’s a focus of ours, definitely here to stay. So for those who are listening to this and saying, I had no idea this is what my organization needed, but Magda has told me that it is, but I don’t know where to start. Can you tell them what step one might look like and what they should be prepared to take on to implement a program like this at their company?

Magda (Akamai): [00:31:47] First thing I would advise would be just to ask yourselves, what are you trying to solve for? Because this is not the only option that there is on the market, and this is a long program. You just have to make sure that you have the right support in terms of the organization, but also the organization is ready to actually have a program that is focused around. Diversity and inclusion from my experience, what happens is that you know, I could do everything I can together with my team to have everyone go successfully through the program, and then the guys, when they hit the floor, go into their particular teams. If the organization would not be ready, if the managers will not be supportive, then there would be this huge clash, right? So I’m thinking that you really have to check if you’re ready to have an initiative like that. Is the company ready to commit? Is there a support network in place, but also just spend a lot of time finding the right people to do what you’re planning to do? This is a huge team effort, so you need to have people who are good at working with others, not judgmental, very supportive people who see different perspectives, and people who will be able to negotiate where there are conflicts of interests at the same time, because thinking about participants right now we have a cohort of 15. We have different managers; we have stakeholders that are higher up in the structural organization. So in total, I counted at some stage that it’s about 60 people that I talked to on a weekly basis. And sometimes you get a slight difference of opinion, so you have to have the right people to make sure that they’re going to be advocating on the behalf of the participants. But at the same time, understand that this is a business-related initiative that we are trying to solve for the business problems. So it’s it takes a lot of a lot of effort to really have the right people in

Jocelyn Allen: [00:33:47] Place, very eye-opening. And I think in really important information to take on, you get really excited about making a difference and you need to be prepared about what that looks like and how long it can take. Because as you said, this is a long program, but the results that you’re seeing probably don’t make it feel like that. It’s been that much time invested. And so thank you for sharing the experiences that you’ve had. I think that they will resonate really well with our audience and hope to see more organizations that want to implement programs like this.

Magda (Akamai): [00:34:17] Thank you so much for having me. This is such a pleasure. I wanted to also take this opportunity to thank the incredible people that I’m working with on the DNI team who really inspired me to do this job. And also, they push me and sometimes out of my comfort zone. But it always pays off and always comes back to me. I think this has been a great experience for everyone who has joined me in those efforts of making it successful. So thank you so much, guys, for being there for me and for the other eight cohort members. Feel free to reach out to Akamai for some guidance. Feel free to talk to TTA. You’ve done an amazing job, guys, in making sure that everything is going to go smoothly. So yeah, I think we really did some amazing things together and the future is bright, right?

Maria Melfa: [00:35:05] Thank you so much, Magda. This was a true pleasure.

Jocelyn Allen: [00:35:16] For more information on today’s podcast guests and how they can help your organization, please visit Bring Out The Talent is a Muddhouse Media production.