This month, BlackEnterprise.com presents Month of the Man, where we bring you career features tailored for male leaders of color all over the world.
This week, we caught up with William Goodloe, president and CEO at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), leading its efforts to provide academic enrichment and career development opportunities to students from underserved and underrepresented communities. The award-winning organization has helped facilitate the success of students in gaining admission to the nation’s top schools, as well as employment at Fortune 500 companies. Below, Goodloe talks his career development in Corporate America and tips for young men of color to succeed in the business arena.
BlackEnterprise.com: You have a background in sales and marketing, working in Corporate America. What skills and experiences related to that background have helped you in your role in the nonprofit sector?
Goodloe: In some form or fashion, we’re always selling— more importantly our ideas. Understanding the sales process, the customer and what their needs and desires are is very transferable to the nonprofit sector. You have to understand the donor and what motivates them and their decisions. These are vital skills.
You have experience working with major corporations and companies in terms of SEO. What are three tips, respectively, for young professional men of color to spark relationships in the workplace, find mentors and be great mentees?
First, be friendly to all colleagues (regardless of status) and search for common ground during interactions.
Second, when looking for a mentor, actively seek feedback from your superiors and express a sincere interest in how you can improve your contributions and learn more.
And third, take the initiative in inviting colleagues out to social events. Interacting outside of the office helps strengthen relationships within the office.
Who did you count as mentors as a youth, and as a senior-level executive, is mentorship/sponsorship still important?
In my youth, my mentors were my father and other business people who I admired. I always admired people who were entrepreneurial. Also, looking back, I realize that some of my mentors were actually my own peers who were doing great things. They inspired me to also strive to achieve at high levels.
Now, as a senior executive, mentorship and ponsorship is still very important. I continue to have a thirst for learning. It’s been said that if you’re not learning, you’re not living. At this point, my mentors are still people of varied ages, including many younger people. They all inspire me with their intellect, thought process and accomplishments. Sponsors are always important. Everyone needs people who have confidence in their abilities and will vouch for them. Most important decisions about my career and opportunities for SEO were made when I was not in the room. Having a sponsor advocate for me then at those points has been critical to my success.
For more information on Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and its programs, including SEO Scholars and SEO Career, visit SEO-usa.org.