Own Your Career Podcast — Advocating for Yourself: Meet Ebony Janelle

GoDaddy LifeCategory
15 min read
Katelyn Armas

Listen to the Podcast, here! Transcription provided, below.

Janelle (Host): Hello and welcome to the Own Your Career Podcast. My name is Janelle Jordan and I’m a Program Manager on our Talent, Performance and Engagement Team and I’m so excited to be here with you. Throughout this series, you will hear inspiring interviews with everyday employees who have achieved internal growth through promotions and movement, as well as actionable tips and best practices to help implement in your career journeys here at GoDaddy. Career management is necessary for a successful journey and we hope you will walk away ready to own your career. Thank you for spending time with me today. Now let us jump into the career spotlight with our guest. I’m here today with Ebony who is a Senior Specialist in Corporate Sustainability working on inclusive entrepreneurship here at GoDaddy.

Ebony (Guest): Hey, Janelle, thanks for having me.

Janelle: Let us get to know you quickly. Can you share with us who you are and what is your story?

Ebony: Yeah. Thanks, Janelle. Again, it’s really great to be here with you today. I actually just crossed over my ten year anniversary. I started at GoDaddy in March of 2012 as an Inbound Sales and Support Guide. My friend had worked here for about six months and she really enjoyed the atmosphere and the team that she was a part of. From there, I actually became involved in various ERGs that were launching back in 2013. I started with Women in Tech and then I moved on to GDUnited when that opened. So, from those ERGs, I was able to actually come to the realization that GoDaddy was more than just a job. It was something that I could do for a career and a place that I could be for the long term. So, I started looking at other ways to be involved with items here at GoDaddy and discovered that there was this team called the Customer Development or Business Development Team, (CDT for short). And that was our Outbound Sales Team that really drove the process of helping entrepreneurs start their businesses and also bring their businesses to the next level. On that team, I was able to hone my skills. I was able to talk to people from various walks of life in various stages of business and actually really get to know them. From there, I was looking at other ways to become more involved in the overall well being of GoDaddy, and I actually became involved in the Talent Ambassador Team, which was a group of Phone Support Agents that were tasked with attending various recruiting events. That sort of soaked a passion in recruiting. Because of that, I was actually able to jump over to a stretch assignment, which would now be known as a GROW rotation in our recruiting department for 90 days and help actually recruit top talent to come work here. I was the one and only. That really stoked my passion to make sure that representation and the equality was here. I know GoDaddy is one of those companies that really talks the talk and walks the walk. That led me into Care Leadership. I had a mentor that was here for quite a while that was always on me about: “hey, you need to come over to Care Leadership. We need somebody like you, somebody that’s like the voice of the people that can really talk with the Support Agents and sort of help them along their journey and be successful and have long careers here.” So, I did jump into Care Leadership for over two years and I really enjoyed that time. I even got to help with our transition to work from home in 2020 and was really happy with the group of new hire agents that I was sort of molding their careers and I was able to actually develop them to a point where most of my team actually left me. Seems like that was a great sort of segue into maybe another aspect of my journey here and that was joining the actual Internal Communications Team for a 90 day stretch, which actually turned into a 10 month stretch. But from there, I gained a lot of various insight from the women on the Internal Communications Team about how truly to be the voice of GoDaddy, how truly to make sure that not only is your voice heard, but other voices are heard, and how to advocate for yourself. So, because of my journey, I’ve sort of been on all sides of GoDaddy, from the Care side and working directly with our customers and our entrepreneurs to working with our Agents and our Guides that are on their phones, to our Technical Corporate side, helping out and recruiting and Internal Comms. That just sort of gave me a passion to find a spot at GoDaddy that sort of combined all of that — the communication skills that I learned, the entrepreneurship lessons that I was able to learn and could teach other entrepreneurs. From there, I sort of segued into where I’m at now, which is the Corporate Sustainability Team, helping with our signature social impact program, Empower by GoDaddy and helping make sure that entrepreneurship is very inclusive for everybody, no matter where they are or who they are.

Janelle: First, Happy Anniversary!

Ebony: Thank you!

Janelle: Amazing timing for you to be sharing your story with us. And there were so many amazing things that you talked about in your journey here that led you to be so well rounded in your capabilities and your skills and your experience. From the beginning, you said there was a moment where you determined that this wasn’t where you wanted to be long term, right? So it sounded like at the very beginning of your career here at GoDaddy, you were checking in with yourself and you were gauging what you liked, what you didn’t like. You were making moves, taking stretch assignments, being flexible, being daring, being courageous, trying new things as well as just going after where you wanted to make an impact. So, that’s taking you all over! What or who has been most impactful to your career growth here at GoDaddy and why?

Ebony: When GoDaddy says “Make your Own Way”, they truly mean that. Make your own way. Whatever you want to do, you have the ability to do it. So, very beginning back in 2013, 2014, we had a VP of Inclusion Engagement, Katee Van Horn, and she was the one that spun up the Employee Resource Groups, the ERGs. Through my work with the various ERGs, I was able to get to know Katee and have a couple of meetings with her just to sort of see how her career progressed and to see how she thought long term about her career prospects. And she said to me something that was very meaningful, and she’s like, “you’ve got to advocate for yourself. You’ve got to be the one that makes the stand. When you don’t feel comfortable, when you don’t feel like you’re in the right spot, find your spot and go after it.” Another person that was really impactful to me was Jamie Pettigrew, who was my mentor in Care Leadership. I was actually on a team, and my leader was checked out, and our team was struggling. So, we went to him, although he was not the leader of our team, and said, “hey, this is what’s going on, and we really need some guidance here.” And it wasn’t very often that you would see a leader from another team, listen to some representatives that weren’t theirs, and actually take on the flag and wave that flag for them to say, “hey, something’s not right here.” And then I’ve had several great women mentors, from the Internal Comms Team to Stacy Cline, the Director of Corporate Sustainability. They’ve all really had a passion for making the world and GoDaddy a better place. So, it’s been a pleasure to work here with so many great people.

Janelle: Mentorship can be so beneficial and so impactful at every stage in our journey. And it sounds like you were able to connect with mentors who are really aligned to your own personal values. Talking about Katee, what was it about her that really inspired you, that made you want to reach out?

Ebony: Yeah. So I’ve worked for other organizations and companies, but never really one that had taken the step to have a C suite level for diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. And that’s what Katee was. Katee was somebody that shot it straight. And so when I went to her and said, “hey, I just want fifteen minutes on your calendar. I know you’re busy.” She said yes! I knew from there that if I ever needed something or needed to run something by somebody, that she would be a voice that I could listen to or that I could bring in to any discussions that I was having. And when she told me one of the biggest things that she learned in her career was to advocate for herself, I knew right then and there that was something that I was going to not only teach myself, but also teach my kids.

Janelle: Thank you for sharing. Can you share examples of how you’ve advocated for yourself since then?

Ebony: In 2015, I actually was almost fired from GoDaddy, believe it or not, two years into my career. I was on a performance improvement plan, and I had a couple of bad sales days, and I wasn’t going to pass my improvement plan, which meant that I was going to be let go. Well, knowing that I needed to advocate for myself, I pulled up my original performance improvement paperwork and looked, and not only did I sign it, but my leader signed it. And there is a fine print in there that this was a contract between the guide and the leader that signed it. So, I actually went to my direct leader’s boss and said, “hey, I have this performance improvement plan here. Here are the things that I’ve done, (and I had them documented), and here are the things that were supposed to be done from my leaders perspective that haven’t been documented.” So, that was my first aspect of sort of advocating for myself. A lot of times, guys feel like they don’t have a voice, and if they’re told, “hey, I’m going to be writing you up for this, or you’re going to go on a performance improvement plan for this,” they don’t question that. And something that I always taught my new hires is if you feel that something isn’t sort of jiving or if you feel that things haven’t been documented appropriately — you speak up. You don’t just let it slide because that could cost you your career and you don’t want that to happen.

Janelle: Thank you for sharing. That’s such a motivational story for really everyone. And you share with us, Ebony, one of the most important lessons that you’ve learned over your career here at GoDaddy and perhaps before GoDaddy.

Ebony: Janelle, that’s a great question. One of the most important things that I’ve learned over my career is sometimes things just might not go your way. And not to let that stop you in your tracks. A lot of times over the ten years that I’ve been here, people are like, “oh, she always gets to do this and she gets to do that.” They don’t always see the negatives. So, there was a role that I had applied for that I was really excited to do back in 2019. And I went into the interview really well, prepped. And I went into the interview and wasn’t chosen for the role. Somebody else was chosen. And when I got my feedback, it really gave me some insight. I hadn’t thought about my answers for the long term. I hadn’t thought about how I could make improvements on processes that were already in place. So, that was something that I really learned from, is that although you can be prepped and ready for anything, a curveball can come in and you may not hit it. So, what I would tell anyone out there listening is that although you may have a setback, don’t let it stop you. Keep forging forward and keep working fearlessly and that right thing will come along for you.

Janelle: Really excellent advice. You talked about feedback and getting feedback after your interview. Was that something that you asked for?

Ebony: It actually was not a part of the interview process. It’s something that I’ve learned early on is to always ask for feedback in ways that you can improve no matter if you get the job or you don’t get the job. Because how are we to improve if we don’t really get that feedback? Both negative and positive feedback.

Janelle: Really sound advice for our listeners. And you tied the word feedback to insight and that’s exactly what it is. Really, thank you for sharing that advice with our listeners. So, the last question is what is a common myth about your job, your department and corporate sustainability or even just your field of expertise with inclusivity, with entrepreneurs?

Ebony: I think a lot of people aren’t aware about Empower by GoDaddy and the impact that we’ve had since its inception in 2017. We’ve helped over 5000 entrepreneurs in over 40 cities across the world as we hit our five year anniversary, we plan on doubling that impact this year alone and expanding our reach. Looking at the ways that GoDaddy is working on commerce and making commerce easy and effective for any entrepreneur out there. It really drives home the mission of empower in other ways. We do group coaching sessions and webinars. Our wonderful webinar team is putting together some excellent material that is being well received and not only helping our normal customer base, but it’s also helping these entrepreneurs and the Empower program level up. I actually just had a conversation yesterday with one of the entrepreneurs that has seen a 30% increase in their growth based off of the marketing tactics that they learned in one of the webinars. Important for people to know that the Corporate Sustainability team is just not here to help the corporate bottom line, but we truly are out there helping everyday entrepreneurs be more successful, and that leads to more success on GoDaddy’s end as well.

Janelle: So amazing, so inspiring, and so motivating. If any of our listeners are wanting to learn a little bit more about Empower, what can they do? Where can they go? Who can they reach out to?

Ebony: Yeah, definitely! They can actually email the Empower team at Empower@godaddy.com or they can reach out to me on Slack. It’s just Ebony. and I’d be happy to answer any other questions, set up a quick meeting. We have several different ways for employees to get involved with Empower, and so we’re always looking for fresh talent to help volunteer and help entrepreneurs be successful. No matter if you’re in marketing, legal, if you’re on the commerce team, if you’re on the payments team, even if you’re a guide on the phones, really help expand the knowledge base of these entrepreneurs and watch them be successful and grow their business. Please reach out.

Janelle: I cannot thank you enough, Ebony, for spending time with us today and sharing our personal career story with our listeners. Hopefully, if our listeners want to get in touch with you and for professional mentoring or networking to learn about Empower, to learn about our ERGs, learn about corporate sustainability, they can reach out to you at Ebony. And we know how passionate you are about personal professional growth. So, excited for our listeners to be able to get in touch with you. If you are interested in being a guest on a future episode of this podcast, please visit the My Career Portal Career Spotlight page and complete the interest form. While you’re there, check out the resources, the articles, the training that’s available, and as always, reach out to us with feedback, questions and ideas. We would love to hear from you. Thank you all and I hope you make it a great day. Thank you.

Are you enjoying this series and want to know more about life at GoDaddy? Check out our GoDaddy Life social pages! Follow us to meet our team, learn more about our culture (Teams, ERG’s, Locations), careers, and so much more. You’re more than just your day job, so come propel your career with us.