In this final week of February, we’re continuing our celebration of Black History Month by spotlighting another leader at Quantcast. This week, I spoke with Leah McClish-Jones, a Key Account Manager, to discuss her role at Quantcast, how she celebrates Black History Month, and some of the work she does as co-lead of Diversity Leadership at Quantcast (DLQ), an employee resource group.
1. First, tell the world about your role at Quantcast.
I’m a Key Account Manager for the eastern region of the US and work with customers in B2B, retail, and services verticals. I develop strategies with customers based on their business objectives and consult on performance goals, and make sure campaigns are not only reaching goals but also helping customers grow their business.
I’m really excited about our plans for this year, which we’ll be talking more about during our Virtual NOVA event next week. And overall, I love working with smart people, both at Quantcast and all of our great customers.
2. Now let’s talk about your role in Diversity Leadership at Quantcast (DLQ). Why is it important to you?
My whole life, I grew up with the notion that equality is easily achievable. That if you work hard and do your best, you’ll be treated as an equal. As I got older, it became more apparent to me that systemic racism is real, and equality must be fought for.
I eventually decided that I didn’t want to just talk about the problem, I wanted to be a part of the solution. At Quantcast, I’m able to partner with my colleagues, our leaders, people in my network and in the broader industry to have my voice heard. I can challenge the areas where we need to do more work, and help foster ideas and opinions to move our work along.
I co-lead our DLQ with Mimi Estell-Ziegler, and together we work to bring education and resources to the Quantcast community. We invite people to come in and share their experiences and viewpoints to help our teams understand what’s happening in the world today.
3. As we celebrate Black History Month, can you tell us why it’s important to you?
Very often during Black History Month, we highlight impressive people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or events like the Civil Rights movement, but we leave out so much more of our history. Some of those things are positive reflections of Black people and some are the terrible ways Black people have been treated.
Just last week, I learned more about the Tulsa Race Massacre and the fact that Confederate statues weren’t erected until after the Civil War to glorify the leaders that fought to keep people enslaved.
I want to continue to educate myself on our shared American history, and use Black History Month as an opportunity to continue that effort.
4. What leaders in history have inspired you?
Jesse Owens immediately comes to mind. I’m a former track and field athlete so I feel a natural connection to him, but what is truly impressive was that he represented his country in the Olympics when racism was extremely prevalent. Still, he won four gold medals in Berlin in 1936 and he was the very best at what he did.
I am also inspired by Ruby Bridges, who at six years old became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. At such a young age she showed courage, tolerance and respect while adults yelled at and criticized her simply for the color of her skin. Ruby’s story resonates with me because I, too, at a young age went from a school where most people shared my skin color to one where most didn’t. It takes a lot of bravery.
5. What advice would you give to other Black people looking to grow in their career?
I’d pass on a lesson that I’ve learned myself during my career: Don’t be afraid to use your voice. When I first began working in the corporate world, I wouldn’t always share my opinions because I didn’t want to be stereotyped as an emotional woman or as an angry black woman. But I learned that there’s always room to share your opinion and if something needs to be said, you can find a way to communicate it. If you can communicate well, people will care even more about what you have to say.
The converse of that advice is for managers and leaders in the world to make sure you’re asking for the opinion of those that don’t always speak up. Sometimes people have great ideas and are only looking for an opportunity to share their opinions.
6. And lastly, as we’ve all had the shared experience of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, can you share with us one of your bright spots over the past year?
I got two new pets in the last year. My tabby cat Rosie and Goldendoodle puppy Oscar have been keeping my husband and me busy at home. We are so grateful that our family and our pets are healthy and safe.