Photo courtesy of Pariveda Solutions.
Pariveda Solutions is an employee-owned strategic services and information technology consulting firm dedicated to developing all people towards their highest potential.
Allison Moy — who joined Pariveda Solutions as an intern in the Dallas office and, with the help of her mentors, was hired as a consultant and ultimately climbed to a technical manager — sat down with Fairygodboss to talk about the importance of working for an empowering company and leveraging mentors.
She, too, aspires to be an advocate and advisor to her mentees. Here's what she had to say about the Glassdoor Best Place to Work (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021) company.
How did you start with Pariveda and what were your responsibilities in your first role?
I first interacted with Pariveda at a career fair in my junior year as a Bioinformatics major. I didn't really know where I wanted to intern or what I wanted to do when I graduated. I received a call from someone at Pariveda who would change my life. Her name was also Allison, and she asked me to drop by the Pariveda career fair table again. I did, and that call kickstarted my career at Pariveda as an intern in 2015.
As an intern, I helped develop a small mobile application for a Dallas-based nonprofit. I don't know exactly what I was expecting before my internship, but I learned so much about what life outside of academia could be like and how to work well in a collaborative, non-competitive environment.
During the internship, I was introduced to Pariveda’s mentorship program. Everyone from intern to CEO receives a formal mentor. After the internship, I accepted a full-time offer from Pariveda and was hired as a consultant when I graduated. As a consultant, I mainly worked as a mobile and web application developer. I spent this time learning industry standards and best practices, and I also learned how to be comfortable with handling lots of uncertainty and unknowns. I was taught how to build frameworks for anything and everything, how to build strong relationships with clients, superiors and direct reports, and how to manage expectations.
What has been your most valuable career mistake?
When I first joined a new project, someone I viewed as a leader dismissed my opinions even after explicitly asking for my feedback. For the next several months, I stopped speaking up or making suggestions at all because I felt there was no point. I kind of aimed to be invisible. That ended when I wasn’t recommended for promotion in the next review cycle.
The hardest thing after that was learning how to be myself again. In the following months, I had a few candid one-on-ones with the woman managing that project. In our last face-to-face discussion, she gave me the best career advice I have ever received: "Don't lose sight of what makes you unique. Don't force yourself to fit in the labels and boxes someone else made for you. The key to your success is holding onto and capitalizing on what makes you different, even if it doesn't always make you popular." I took her advice to heart and was promoted to associate soon after.
When you were promoted how did your role change?
As an associate, I was expected to lead a small team and, after a few months, that was the role I grew into. I think this was really my jack-of-all-trades phase, where I did a decent amount of coding, a little bit of risk management, a little bit of coaching and a little bit of project and account planning. I really had to learn how to have difficult conversations and break out of this idea that I needed to avoid rocking the boat.
My mentor encouraged me to set aside time with the people leading the project to talk about things that I'd noticed but was nervous about bringing up. As uncomfortable and "boat-rocking" as it felt at first, I began to openly bring up gender-related and other uncomfortable issues I saw on my project. While I’m not sure those conversations will ever be comfortable or “easy” in any sense, I'm glad that I took my mentor's advice because now I feel better equipped to handle similar conversations in the future.
How has having a mentor (or being a mentor) enriched your own work experience?
Now that I'm a manager, I code less and spend most of my time project planning, coaching, herding cats and building relationships. Since I'm still quite new, I'm sure this role will evolve to include more mentoring.
One of the best things about Pariveda's mentorship structure is how strongly I've felt that all of my past mentors have been in my corner, and even when they were no longer my formal mentor, I've kept in touch with them. They have all offered good advice on handling situations that I'm unfamiliar with and had great insights into the traps and difficulties they ran into on their journeys. I've always felt that they had my best interest at heart and were willing to tell me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear. They have also never shied away from outright disagreeing with the advice that I've received from others as I've progressed through my career, often giving their own counterexamples to show me as many perspectives as possible.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career?
For many companies, that may be the case; however, Pariveda lays out a clear path for professional growth. If you find that Pariveda's path for growth matches up well with your personal career goals, it isn't necessary to jump ship to move up. Our comprehensive Expectations Framework, which explicitly lays out what a person needs to do and learn to advance, and how we never set quotas for promotions really helps us in this regard. The key is finding a company that wants to grow you in the same direction that you want to go. Pariveda also provides training opportunities at every level, which I feel has been vital for my career progression.
I work with people who are overwhelmingly talented, hardworking, and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to collaborate and share knowledge and experiences for no reason other than to help others succeed. People make or break teams, and I've repeatedly found myself thinking, "Wow, how did I get lucky enough to work with people that I'm actually excited to see every day?"
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