Markeia Brox-Chester is a Business Operations Program Manager, supporting the Employee Experience organization at Adobe. She focuses on demonstrating strategic thinking for customer solutions, proactively scaling business processes, and increasing efficiencies.
Here is what Markeia had to say when we asked her about using your voice throughout your professional journey:
GenHERation®: What is the best way to make time for all of your priorities?
Markeia Brox-Chester: Parsing out time to prioritize certain things and having focus time on your calendar really helps. It helps me prioritize what is needed in the moment on that day and being realistic about what I can actually get done in the amount of time I have. I always joke that if I don’t write something down, I won’t remember it, but that would lead me to have a to-do list of 20 different items and then I wouldn’t be able to scratch one off because unexpected tasks would come up. I found that when I narrowed my scope to the top three things I needed to get done each day, I was more successful at completing them, and if I completed five it was even better! Also, when people reach out to get additional support, getting the clarity of when they need the task completed and being transparent about when you can get it back to them is so helpful and will make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself.
GenHERation®: How can you find your voice?
Brox-Chester: I’ve been at Adobe for five years and when I first started, I was learning the ropes and discovering where I wanted to land, which can be really intimidating. I felt a lot of imposter syndrome and didn’t think I had anything valuable to say. The way I overcame that was from advice I got from folks around me. I had a manager earlier on in my career who said, “I want to hear your voice because whenever you do speak up in a meeting the questions you’re asking are very insightful and help us think in a different way.” Hearing that validation helped me overcome my inner critic and realize that I was there for a reason. As I continue to grow, I remind myself that my voice matters, and if I don’t use it, it’s a disservice to myself and my community. As a woman, as a black woman, I recognize that the opportunities I’ve had are not the same as many others who look like me, so who am I to not share my voice when I do have that opportunity?
GenHERation®: What did you do to develop your personal brand?
Brox-Chester: I make connections. When I started out at Adobe, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was excited for any new opportunity that became available. As I met new people, had different stretch opportunities, and expanded my network, I started to evaluate who I wanted to be known as. I’ve held a couple brands over the course of my career. First, it was the brand that I was always going to raise my hand and say “yes.” Then, I recognized that brand wasn’t as feasible as I continued to move up because my plate was overfilling. I got more strategic and evaluated what value I wanted to contribute to meetings and discussions. As I honed in on what that meant for me, I discovered I wanted to be seen as a strategic partner. Looking back, I had to learn from my initial mindset of being open to anything, which is a great trait to have at the beginning of your career, but ultimately you want to get to a place where you know how you want to be remembered. By honoring that, you build your brand.
GenHERation®: What are three ways to create diverse and inclusive environments?
Brox-Chester: One is to listen rather than just hear. When you’re connecting with someone, listen to what they’re saying. Don’t just hear them so you can respond. That is how we start to see and understand other perspectives. Another thing is to not be afraid to speak up. It can be uncomfortable to speak up when you’re a minority, and not just by your race, gender, or ethnicity, but even by an idea. The reality is that you have to use your voice to change things across any avenue. At the end of the day, it’s the diverse voices and perspectives that continue to move our world to a space that is more inclusive. Finally, don’t be afraid to learn. I am a lifelong learner and never say that I know everything because I’m always willing to learn perspectives, listen to different ideas, learn from my colleagues, and acknowledge when I don’t know something. When we’re stuck in our ideas and our ways, we block out the rest of the world around us.
GenHERation®: How can you become a more confident public speaker?
Brox-Chester: Practice. I was fortunate enough when I was younger to participate in different oratorical competitions where I had to memorize poems, stand on stage, and recite them with conviction. At the time, I didn’t understand the value of what I was doing, but I recognize now it’s become ingrained in me and I am confident in what I’m saying. Definitely from a practice perspective, you have to get comfortable with your style and recognize that your style of speaking is different from someone else’s style of speaking. If you have a favorite public speaker, don’t try to imitate them. Find who you are and your flow within, and own it. Another thing is that we are often nervous when we have to speak in front of a crowd. However, the reality is that the people in the audience don’t know what you’re supposed to say, so if you miss a sentence, no one else knows the sentence is missing! Also, when you’re in meetings remember it’s okay to not know everything. Sometimes we trip ourselves up thinking we need to have all the answers, but I gain more confidence when I say, “Actually, I don’t have that answer, but I will do my research and come back to you with what I’ve found.”
GenHERation®: How can you use your voice to find career success?
Brox-Chester: Don’t be afraid to step up and want to learn and grow in your career. At Adobe, we say, “You have to own and drive your own career.” For me, I took that and ran with it. I put my career in my own hands. If I’m not moving up in the capacity I want, I ask myself what I can do to change that. I raise my hand and connect with managers. I say, “This is what I’m interested in. Are there possible stretch assignments?” You’ll find people who will help you get where you want to go, but people aren’t mind readers, so you have to speak up. You never know how someone you share your career goals with will impact your career.
GenHERation®: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Brox-Chester: This is recent advice from a mentor of mine and she said, “Remember you’re no longer in a place where you should feel like you don’t belong, because you are here.” This advice essentially means that you don’t have to constantly feel like you need to prove yourself. You have to come to the realization that you would not be somewhere if you didn’t belong. You just have to believe in yourself.
Markeia Brox-Chester is a Business Operations Program Manager, supporting the Employee Experience organization at Adobe. She focuses on demonstrating strategic thinking for customer solutions, proactively scaling business processes, and increasing efficiencies. Additionally, as a leader within the Black Employee Network, Markeia remains an advocate for increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities in the technology industry. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Markeia grew up in a family that never put a limit on the level of success she could obtain. Markeia’s dad told her, “If you don’t stretch, you don’t grow,” which is a phrase she repeats to herself every time she goes beyond her comfort zone to take on new opportunities. She enjoys being a lifelong learner, solving problems, and creating positive change in the world.