An empowered woman starts inside the mind and heart. In my experience, many of the powerful women that I meet don’t know the extent of their gifting and talents. Regardless of your journey or where you are in life, it is the uniqueness of you that ignites the fire to impact the world. And it starts in the mind by recognizing that no one can be you or do it (whatever ‘it’ may be) exactly like you. Even in the case of similarities among women, there is always something distinct that changes the dynamics of influence. It may sound like a cliche, but you are special. Struggles, trauma, or failure don’t disqualify you but, in many situations, it is those factors that ready your influence. It’s startling how much we focus on exercising the body but often fail to understand the criticality of exercising the mind and heart. Exercising the mind includes acknowledging what has blocked you and then overcoming the blockers with positive thoughts, words, and actions. Exercising the heart requires an active casting down of negative thoughts, speaking what will only uplift and practicing replacing learned behaviors that try to constantly creep in to overtake us. You can control your mind and heart, over time, with consistent exercise that resembles physical exercise; meaning if you aren’t consistent, the long-term benefits won’t take root. It’s good to be inspired by others but you have your own superpower and when you tap into it and the difference you can make, that “you” is empowered!
I will share my story by answering 3 questions.
Are there any stories from women that you are uplifted by?
There are numerous women that uplift me and have provided inspiration on my journey. As odd as it sounds though, I am uplifted the most by myself. I don’t say that in a pretentious or arrogant way, but I have conquered many hardships and prevailed in spite of. My story begins with the absence of my parents. I did not grow up in a well-to-do family and my grandmother absorbed the responsibility of taking care of me. During my time living with her, I suffered trauma after trauma and often felt unwanted and alone. I also fought desperately to overcome stuttering which dug at my confidence. I dealt with my speech impediment in silence because I was terrified of judgement. Little did I know that all of this would work in my favor. God placed a fire inside of me that, even before I knew what it was, made me believe I could reach for the stars. Every time I got knocked down, He’d pick me up and whisper “keep going”. Although my home situation did not change, I buried myself in school, seeking to hide the rejection beneath recognition. In my mind, if I could be #1 in school then I will matter and escape the past. I trek on to gain a scholarship that pays for my entire college experience and graduate #1 in the School of Engineering & #2 in the School of Mathematics. Nonetheless, my two degrees did not shift the corporate world’s view of me. I was overlooked, mistreated, and passed by more times than I can count. I realize that my work ethic and proficiency can only be seen through the lens of judgment. To many, I am solely my race and sex. As a result, I had a serious mental breakdown with no one to help me navigate or recover from it. I thought my life was over, but nevertheless, I again manage to persist (some days it is forward, but I have many where it is backwards). Takings things one moment at a time is the only way I survive. Looking back, life has never been easy for me but now, I can clearly see the making of a strong Alicia and one who paid a price so others can walk freely on the water that almost drowned me. I also understand that the opportunities and success I have are possible because of the women who came before me. Let my story uplift you and assure you that no matter what you are going through, no matter how they try to break you, you matter, and you always mattered. Keep going and finish!
Why is it important for women to tell our stories?
People suffer in silence every day, and it is important for women to tell our stories because transparency is the one secret ingredient to let others know that what they are facing is not an anomaly, and they can make it out. Everything that they are facing is personally crafted for them to reach their destiny. It’s all purposeful in the making of who you were created to be. My hope is that one day you’ll be able to look back, understand and realize that nothing was wasted. The sun is going to shine just for you.
What has influenced your beliefs about women’s empowerment and equality?
For the entire twenty-nine years of my career, I have almost always been the only woman in the room and most certainly the only black woman. There were times that I felt inadequate, but instead of fading into the shadows I was driven by it. I was determined to change the narrative for my children and other women who faced similar obstacles. I break through every ceiling I meet. That drive made me instrumental in cultivating Fastly’s largest and most well-known streaming clients in the industry over the last 8 years. I’ve watched a number of Black women be setup to fail in Sales roles, but I refused to let that be my story. I’ve spent years conquering systems set up to work against me, and I hope that my battles make it easier for Black women who come after me. In 2018, that drive helped me Co-Found Women in Streaming Media (WSM), a global organization that exists to increase diversity and provide greater visibility to women leaders within streaming media. My org has grown from 50 to over 1,200 memberships in the last 4+ years. We continue to empower women to discover, develop and reach their goals. That same drive appointed me (the first woman in history) to the Board of Directors for the Streaming Video Technology Alliance (SVTA). One year later, I was elected to serve as Vice President of the organization. The SVTA enables companies across the video ecosystem to work together solving the critical technical challenges of delivering high quality video at scale. My commitment awards me several amazing moments to speak across the world about streaming trends, diversity, skills, talent, and the future of technology. My webinar “Diversity, Skills & Talent” aims to establish an inclusive grassroots pool of rich engineering talent for the future and because of its unique objective, is published with the IBC as a leading industry trend. That drive pushes me every day of my life.
I am a mother, lover of people & technology geek. For 27 years, I have found my passion in raising two adults, being immersed in technology, serving my community & my customers. I am always learning, always a student & always interested in being the conduit that allows companies to become more efficient & more profitable. As a senior executive my experience has spanned Live Streaming, VoD, Online Media, Entertainment, Data Capture, Mobile, Cloud Architecture, DevOps, Security, Threat Intelligence, Software Application, Virtualization, Advertising & Monetization, Governance & Compliance. I am a servant leader with excellent interpersonal & communication skills necessary to penetrate all levels of client organizations, cultivate relationships, build confidence as a trusted advisor and help enterprises exploit bleeding-edge technologies to drive revenue and competitive advantage.