The connection between someone’s college major and their career path is not always clear. In fact, in this series so far we’ve already learned about the professional path of art history major-turned front-end developer Ellie Wawrzaszek, psychology major-turned recruiting coordinator AJ Biggers, and English major-turned recruiter Ariana Moon.
For Customer Success Manager Scherezad Yusef, the connection between her undergrad English degree, her Masters in Public Administration and her current line of work might not be immediately obvious, but it turns out that they’ve all allowed her to explore a topic she feels passionately about: diversity and inclusion.
We caught up with Scherezad to learn how she turned her undergrad fascination with colonialism in literature into a Masters thesis focused on recruiting and retaining diverse students in her graduate school. Also, she reveals how she’s found a way to promote diversity and inclusion here at Greenhouse—in addition to her day job as a Customer Success Manager.
Greenhouse: What was your first job ever?
Scherezad Yusef: I worked at Hollister as a sales rep. I recall not making very much money because they give you a really good discount and I spent a lot of it on trying to look cute for high school!
GH: Ah, yes. The trouble with working in retail! You were also an English major during undergrad. What drew you to that subject?
SY: I grew up thinking I was going to study mechanical engineering. But I realized there were other things I was much more passionate about, and those were the classes where I was writing.
What I found really interesting in English literature was critical race theory, understanding colonialism, and reading history books and historical writings about how all these separations of race came about. I remember reading Heart of Darkness and thinking it was the most awful book to get through but I was also just so fascinated by it.
GH: And then you recently completed a Masters in Public Administration. How did you get there from English literature?
SY: Social impact and diversity were really important to me, and I was playing with the idea of either an MBA or Public Policy. I decided on Public Policy because it seemed like a great foundation to focus on diversity in, and I got into a graduate student research position that paid for my degree.
I worked in the Advance Center for Institutional Change and that’s where I did my graduate student research. I ended up doing my thesis on diversity and inclusion for the actual graduate school that I went to.
GH: Wow—that sounds great! And for those of us who don’t know, what exactly is Public Administration?
SY: Public Administration focuses on government policy, social change, and nonprofits, but the main goal is figuring out how policy best serves people. It’s less business-related and more people-focused. We learned about everything from transportation and environment, to race and relations, to human resources. I focused primarily on leadership and decision-making.
GH: You mentioned that diversity and inclusion is a big focus for you. Can you tell us a little more about that?
SY: I focused on getting a more diverse population into engineering, science, and neuroscience programs. My job was to do better research into which sources could improve our pipeline. Then when I moved onto my thesis, I was writing about how to improve diversity recruitment and retention for our graduate school itself. That required a deep understanding of the demographics and history of our country, and more specifically Seattle, where I was going to school. I think people generally get why we want a diverse workforce or education system, but what has led us to where we are now is really interesting.
GH: And when you went into this program, did you have an idea of what you’d want to do after you graduated?
SY: I felt like I’d have a diverse range of options—I could go into a nonprofit and work really deeply in diversity initiatives or I could go into a corporate setting and work on a side project. Coming to Greenhouse I felt like everything fell into place because of where Greenhouse is positioned and the things we’re doing.
GH: Has diversity and inclusion been a part of your role at Greenhouse?
SY: It’s not part of my core role, but the fact that we have a diversity committee and inclusion task force, and Greenhouse is making that a priority, means I was able to immediately jump in and get involved. I’ve been thinking about re-launching TechYes! in San Francisco and my manager has been encouraging me to explore that.
GH: So what was your journey to Greenhouse like?
SY: Before working here I’d used Greenhouse as a customer, I’d read some of Greenhouse’s articles, and I was aware of their commitment to making the interview process more consistent. I had always been interested in Human Resources because of its relation to diversity and inclusion, so working in HR tech felt like a great fit.
Then when I was applying to jobs, probably 45% of the employers were using Greenhouse so I became familiar with it as a candidate as well. I was so excited about the prospect of working for Greenhouse, but I didn’t think there was any chance I was going to get it. I had my phone interview and I was sold—I thought these were exactly the kind of people I wanted to work with!
GH: Tell us about your role as Customer Success Manager. What are you working on at the moment?
SY: I’m on the SMB (small and medium business) team, working specifically with a segment of customers who are scaling quickly. This is a newer initiative for our SMB team; we want to be sure as companies grow, we’re growing with them, too. This means I’m taking more of a proactive approach, offering strategic guidance when it’s helpful and showing customers how they can get the most out of Greenhouse.
GH: Are there any highlights from your time so far?
SY: A few weeks ago, our CEO Daniel was visiting our San Francisco office, and we had a happy hour. He was so excited about something he’d learned in a recent sales training that he was literally writing it down on the restaurant’s menu and teaching the concepts to me. It was cool to see how much passion he had.
It reaffirmed for me that I’m working in the right place!
Does Scherezad’s story inspire you to find a working environment where you continue to learn and pursue your passions? Learn more about Greenhouse’s open roles and apply here.