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Creating and Nurturing a Climate for Successful Leadership
Photo Courtesy of Equinix
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Brandi Galvin Morandi, Equinix’s Chief Legal and Human Resources Officer, has been with the company since its inception in 1998. Throughout her tenure, Brandi has been actively involved in programs for women’s advancement in leadership, and founded the Equinix Women Leaders Network (EWLN), which has gained tremendous influence throughout the organization with 2,000 members globally.

“As an executive at the company, I wanted to get other people to the table. I knew we had women with extraordinary talent in the organization, we just needed to find an outlet to offer even more visibility,” she recently told Fairygodboss. Brandi shares a view on diversity and inclusion that trickles down from Equinix CEO, Charles Meyers, who believes “the collective doesn’t have nearly enough power without women around the table.”

Here’s what this forward-minded Chief Legal & Human Resources Officer and recognized global leader had to say about the critical ingredients needed to build and support high-performing teams.

Equinix is Hiring! Browse Opportunities.

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously? 

I joined Equinix in January 2003 and served as Equinix’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary until taking on the expanded role of Chief Legal and Human Resources Officer in early 2019.

Before joining Equinix in 2003, I practiced law at Gunderson Dettmer in Menlo Park, California. There, in addition to representing public and private companies in a variety of debt scenarios, equity offerings and mergers and acquisitions, I served as legal counsel in the incorporation of Equinix in 1998. So, I’ve basically been involved with Equinix since day one! It’s been an amazing ride and so much opportunity still lies ahead. Whether someone has been at Equinix for years or just a few months, it’s exciting to be part of a team that feels just as passionately as I do.

Describe what you do in one sentence. 

My team and I work to ensure that each and every employee is able to thrive; we view ourselves at the forefront of creating a workplace experience where all employees are engaged and empowered. And, with it, that employees feel they can bring their whole, authentic selves to work each day and are able to drive positive and meaningful impact for colleagues, customers, shareholders and the communities where we do business.  

What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day? 

First, I check in to see what new information came in while I was away from my desk. Is there anything that would make me reprioritize my day? No matter how early my work day is scheduled to begin, I try to set aside at least an hour to look at my email, read news alerts and check out our virtual employee connection forums on Yammer. I usually wrap up my day with email and Yammer as well. 

How do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?

I try to make sure I have designated time set aside to focus on what’s important – strategic themes that require more advance planning and thought. Focusing on the important, rather than the urgent (emails, quick tasks, etc.), helps make sure I’m keeping an eye on the big picture and not just the latest task coming across my desk.

How would you describe your leadership style? 

I think the term service leadership best describes me. I want to make sure those around me are armed with the tools they need to succeed and are empowered to make decisions and add value. I believe that I can make the biggest impact through leveraging my team, so my leaders have a lot of visibility and influence in the organization. 

The key themes throughout my career have been a willingness to take risks and remembering that the opportunity to listen and learn comes from each and every interaction — that’s a big part of what’s led me to where I am today. I also see it as part of my role, and responsibility as a leader, to help create and encourage these moments for others, both men and women. 

As such, I try to encourage others to be willing to make mistakes when taking those risks and see them as opportunities to define oneself. “Own what you would do differently next time, don’t point fingers and keep moving forward. Your mistake will be forgotten, but how you handled it will stick with people — but most importantly, don’t forget that your integrity is everything. People need to be able to trust you and trust your judgement. Do the right thing, even when it’s hard or unpopular.”

What’s one thing you think young job seekers should know about your company? What about those who are in a more advanced career stage? 

Many technology and data center roles have been historically male dominated, so data center companies need to be actively engaged and creative in recruiting women, as well as retaining women through career development, stretch projects and promotional opportunities.

At Equinix, diversity and inclusion are at the core of achieving our global strategy because diverse and inclusive workforces create the greatest outcomes, as diverse teams are more likely to constantly re-examine facts and remain objective. We have three areas of focus at Equinix when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and belonging:

  1. Attract, retain and develop a diverse, global workforce, where we are creating new recruiting onramps and onboarding support for “returners” and “new to career”, as well as confirming equitable representation in leadership development programs. 

  2. Instrument our leadership capability. Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) is part of our management training and our senior leaders are getting 360-degree feedback on inclusive behaviors. 

  3. Engage employees as DIB leaders. Through the structure of Employee Connection Networks – like the Equinix Women Leaders Network (EWLN), PrideConnect, BlackConnect, interASIANconnect and VetConnect – local employee groups come together to focus on purpose, a sense of belonging, service, sustainability, and fun. From an executive leadership perspective, the Allies Council, composed of 29 SVP and VP volunteers, advocates for underrepresented communities at Equinix, invests in its own development as inclusive leaders, and leads organizational change.  

How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work? 

For me, I felt uniquely positioned to be a founder of EWLN. As an executive at the company, I wanted to get other people to the table. I knew we had women with extraordinary talent in the organization, we just needed to find an outlet to offer even more visibility.  EWLN has gained tremendous influence throughout the organization, with 2,000 members globally. EWLN seeks to promote, connect, and empower women and offers development events each month across a variety of locations and modalities, such as workshops with external experts, panel discussions with internal leaders, strategy dialogues with the CEO and training sessions.

Outside of work, this is also an area where I’m passionate about directing my time and attention. From 2014-2020, I served on the Board of The Hamlin School in San Francisco and am currently the chair of an ongoing capital campaign. The Hamlin School’s mission is to “educate girls to meet the challenges of their time and inspire them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.”

I see these two organizations as the perfect complement. At Equinix, I work to expand opportunities for underrepresented communities; at Hamlin, I work to help support and create the pipeline of future talent!

As for finding the time, I see this work as critical to achieving Equinix’s strategic objectives.  When you look at it that way, not only can you find the time, you prioritize it. Not to mention, seeing others around me thrive is something that brings me a great amount of energy and personal satisfaction.

What are you trying to improve on? 

Like so many others right now, I’m continuously working to find a good balance between family, work and caring for my own well-being. It’s something that I’m working at each day – it’s never “done!”. These days, I think it’s a balance between drawing on the energy of others when it’s needed, or being the energy supplier in the (virtual) room when you’re feeling good. It’s a tide we’re weathering together and for me personally, I’ve really appreciated how the small gestures can make a big difference in allowing employees to bring their whole selves to work and feel safe.

What are the top three qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate? 

I’m always looking for candidates who have a mindset of bringing others along. Meaning, your success is measured by the success you help enable in others. It takes a seasoned and mature leader to have the confidence to focus on empowering others.  

I also believe that empathy and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are two other important qualities, especially in 2020, and the foreseeable future. These characteristics strongly go hand in hand: empathy allows a leader to most accurately take the “temperature in the room,” and understand where focus may be needed to bring others along. But, beyond that, it’s an appreciation for the changes that may be required to remain successful and a willingness to rethink how things have been done in the past as it may no longer apply. Whether you’re supporting your workforce in moving to a remote model or reimagining expectations for your team given the unforeseen challenges – meeting people where they are is a platform for creating meaningful change this year. And, whenever we arrive at our “new normal,” this is a skill that successful managers will continue to hone.

Why do you think your company is a particularly supportive work environment for women?

Regardless of gender, we support each other at Equinix and encourage women to be vocal leaders, drivers of innovation and strong team builders. EWLN creates a forum for collaboration, development and amplification. Male leaders are also actively engaged in creating inclusion and diversity of thought, because they know the value it brings. As Charles Meyers, CEO of Equinix, said: “As an individual, I have always believed in the power of the collective. And I have learned again and again that the collective doesn’t have nearly enough power without women around the table.”

Additionally, at Equinix, we are building a variety of bridges that will scale over time. We are investing in pathway programs, such as returnships and veteran transition programs. We are also expanding our university programs to attract talent from both two- and four-year programs. By doing so, we are taking a proactive long-term approach to ensure that we are building a diverse workforce ready to tackle challenges today and into the future.

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