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Balancing the Grind with Adriele Parker, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategist & Career Coach

Adriele Parker is a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategist & Career Coach, helping tech leaders, teams, and companies build more equitable & inclusive spaces.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Sure! I started my career in university career development, through which I gained exposure to recruiting. In 2015, I joined the internal recruiting team of a global tech startup, where I was formally introduced to and began working in the Diversity & Inclusion space.

There, I worked closely with stakeholders across the organization to establish D&I data pipelines, develop more inclusive hiring strategies and procedures, and build out a number of programs to promote D&I across the org.

In 2018, I joined a consulting company as an internal D&I Associate and within a few short months I was promoted to Global Manager of D&I. During my time there, I built out and implemented the company’s first D&I strategy, partnering with executive leaders in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

Most recently, I was a D&I Senior Project Manager at Pivotal Software (now VMware) where I collaborated with others to develop and implement D&I initiatives using agile methodologies, managed ERGs, and coached internal D&I leaders and allies on best practices.

Unfortunately, my team was laid off when the merger closed. Instead of searching for another full-time role, I decided to launch my own thing!

Currently, I’m an independent Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) consultant and a career coach. On the DEI side of things, I work [mostly] with tech companies, leaders, and teams to improve cultural & structural competency to build more equitable & inclusive spaces for all.

In terms of career coaching, I specialize in helping mid-level professionals of color discover (or in some cases, rediscover) their purpose and gain clarity on how to reach the next chapter of their careers.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My days vary, especially right now as I’m getting things ramped up with my business. Not only am I a consultant and coach, but at the moment I’m my own accountant, legal assistant, HRBP, etc. It’s a little hectic, but I’m learning a ton and having an agile/iterative mindset helps a lot!

Here’s a recent [work]day (I wrote it this way because my work and life are heavily intertwined, which I enjoy):

9 – 10: Review my schedule for the day. If I feel the need to reprioritize things on my calendar, I’ll do that first thing in the morning. I also use this time to check emails and social media messages; I reply to any client leads, follow up with existing clients, and do some light networking (mostly on LinkedIn)

10 – 11: I used a few minutes to complete some miscellaneous financial tasks for my business. I then had a call with a potential coaching client.

11-12: Project management for a DEI client. I recently took on a project as an independent DEI contractor for a global tech company. Most of the team sits in California, so around this time folks are waking up and I begin checking in with the team, completing action items, and sending follow-up emails/messages.

12 – 2: I take at least a 45-minute break to have lunch and walk my pup, Roux. I find that I NEED a break halfway through the day. Ideally, I take a break without any sort of screen time (phone included). I did take a few minutes to call and check-in with my family before I got back to work. And I prepped dinner #balancethegrind.

2 – 6: If only you could see my calendar. This afternoon was a grab-bag. I had a team meeting for the DEI project that I mentioned earlier, a call with my own professional coach, did some project management for my DEI client, and did some research for a career coaching workshop series that I’m designing.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

It does! I work from home (I was doing so before Covid-19). It works well for me! I like the flexibility of being able to work remotely and the ability to define my own schedule.

I don’t miss going into an office just to “show face.” I find that I’m actually much more productive when I have control over the environment that I’m working in.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Truthfully, I prefer to think of it as work/life integration rather than balance. My work is something that I’m deeply passionate about, it’s part of me, so naturally there’s a lot of overlap between my “work” and “life.”

With that said, DEI work and career coaching can be mentally and emotionally taxing. What I’ve found more important than maintaining delineation between work and life is simply being able to be introspective and aware of when I need to give myself some breathing room.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Time blocking! I’ve known for some years that I have ADHD, which can make it difficult to stay on task. By blocking giving myself a specific amount of time (anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour) to complete a task, I find that I’m more likely to complete it.

Also, color coding my calendar is extremely helpful. Not only for keeping organized, but you can reflect on previous days, months or weeks and quickly see where/how you spent most of your time.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’ve been rereading Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass. I’ve never been into self-help books, but I find this one to be relatable and a good refresher whenever I feel imposter syndrome seeping in.

I also just recently started reading Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. My focus over the past few months has been on “intention.” I’m only a few chapters in, but this is a solid read.

One of my favorite quotes (and, now a daily reminder to myself) from the book is:

If you don’t know why, you can’t know how.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Plan! As I mentioned, I often use time blocking to get things done. I also like lists. I tend to lean on the “rule of three” to keep productivity going.

My version: three high-level goals that I want to accomplish each week, three goals for the day, and (if necessary) three action items to accomplish those daily goals.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I can think of a number of folks: Oprah, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Rihanna, etc. i.e. people who seem to do 24 years worth of work in 24 hours. I know they all have teams, but that wasn’t/isn’t always the case with every single thing they work on. I’d love to learn more!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

When it comes to work/life balance, find what works for YOU! And, always be willing to try something new. It’s easy to find something that works and to keep doing it, even if, after a while, it’s no longer as effective. Be able to recognize and accept when change may be necessary.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.