CONSULTING / PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in consulting or professional services.
Malik Ray (THF ‘13)
Please describe your role.
At a 30,000 foot level, I am a thought leadership event producer for a company called World 50. We are a private, invitation only membership organization for C-suite level executives.
Never heard of us? Intentional. We keep a low profile on purpose.
Largely, our genesis is that the top is lonely. As these executives continue to be sought after for their knowledge and intellectual prowess, from whom is it that they glean their perspective?
That’s my job.
Daily, I’m listening in on calls, reading member intel and meeting with group leaders to truly drill down on what is top of mind for our membership. What are their ears to the “street” about? What’s coming that they may not be aware of?
This leads me to seek the guidance of leaders such as: Sean Combs, Anna Wintour, Thomas Friedman, Al Gore, Condoleeza Rice, etc. We then choose an interesting venue (classic car clubs, winery, museums, etc.) and we fly to New York (sometimes the West coast) to execute the events for our members.
What do you enjoy most about your company?
My role affords me the opportunity to dream, imagine and create. After teaching 2nd grade for three years, I struggled to find work that made me passionate. I was good at things, but did it stir me mentally? Did it excite me to rise and grind? No. This role allows me the ability to utilize my business acumen, while arriving to be inquisitive each day. It is a place of learning, growth and excellence. You do not find that everywhere.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
All of my life, I have been good at planning things. Naturally, I am an organizer. Add in a hint of taste and splash of effort and it sounds look I should be an event planner!
I thought: That isn’t a real job. These people on TV got lucky. No one is hiring people to plan parties.
I didn’t even know a role like this even existed. I saw this strange post on LinkedIn that was a fairly accurate description of what I was looking for in my next role. “Do you enjoy Reddit as much as you enjoy CNN? Do you like the New York Times and Pinterest” The answer was a resounding yes.
I say this, to say two things:
- Go after jobs that interest you.
- LinkedIn hiring works.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
The T. Howard Foundation has been the crux of my professional career. Having the opportunity to intern at Saks Fifth Avenue allowed me to fulfill another “impossible dream”.
I thought: “People don’t shop for a living. The Devil Wears Prada could not have been correct. That’s not a job.”
Well, it was. And it was as glamorous as it was meticulous. And as creative as it was analytical. This sparked great curiosity because, once again, we’re challenging (what I assumed to be) impossible. Furthermore, spending the summer bonding with my T. Howard fellows at LVMH, Macys, Bloomingdale’s and the like provided me an opportunity to seek an understanding of the industry. Perspective is everything. Experience allows for choices. That’s what T. Howard gave me. Choices.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
Confidence – show up to any room knowing who you are. You are in that room because you were hired to perform a task that you are likely more than capable of performing. Act like it.
Passion – not to be confused with loving your role, passion speaks to the way in which you approach your work. You work on every single item to the fullest extent of your being. Exhaust yourself on every e-mail. Every presentation.
Professionalism – it is very true that we must perform twice as hard to get half as far. Let us be clear in our understanding that we are minority professionals. That naturally presents itself with a set of high expectations (even if placed by oneself) and standards to abide by. I’d encourage us all to continue to do the work. Though we should not have to, it is clear that our work-selves subconsciously affect who walks in the door after we leave and whether or not they look like us.
If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
I’d undo the idea that college and my selected field of study (Business Administration) was absolutely necessary to thrive in the world of business. Perhaps I would have taken a deeper dive into subjects of interest while in school, rather than what I thought would provide me the most lucrative opportunities. Because, the truth is: there is always a way.
In one sentence please describe what work/life balance means to you.
Work/life balance is having the courage (and the empowerment) to grind out your work day so that you may enjoy your personal nights.
Use one word to describe how you practice self-care.
Are you extroverted or introverted? How does this show up in your professional life?
I am an extroverted introvert. When I’m on, I am ON. I make people smile, laugh, encourage authenticity – I am a peoples’ person. However, it comes with a timer. When my social battery drains, I become terribly reclusive and retreat to my room until I am ready to deal with the world again. For the longest time, I thought that something may have been wrong with me; surely there was no way that I could both an introvert AND extrovert. But it’s fine. You’re fine. We’re fine. Do what you need to do in order to take care of you.