BE Modern Man: Tyrone D. Smith Jr., Ph.D.
Innovator, future of work enthusiast; 33; Human capital strategist, analytics leader; Board Member, New Leaders Council
Having completed my doctoral degree, I’m presently in the field of human capital analytics in a human capital strategist leadership role. I take advantage of people analytics to drive action and insights by leveraging a customer-centric, evidence-based approach to align talent strategy with business strategy. I also link talent with value creation by enabling cutting-edge techniques, modeling and technology, and advanced consulting skills, to drive better business outcomes regarding talent and the future of work.
I’m also an active volunteer involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters with a little brother who I share experiences with and help guide. Additionally, I’m a board member (and former 2018 fellow) for the New Leaders Council in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a fellowship program that helps develop leadership skills in young leaders. It’s amazing to do such work and see the impact and how much it truly helps others.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
As a young boy growing up in Miami, at a very young age I began to understand the intrinsic value of the power of giving back to the community and others.
Overall in life, I am most proud of my ability to give back to those around me in order to lift them up as I climb and continue to strive toward excellence. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed watching one of my mentees secure multiple scholarships to help him confidently go for a college education, as well as his first internship to gain some real-world experience. I strongly believe that the impact and power of mentorship can never be overstated. I find it rejuvenating to reach back and help push people forward while helping them realize their full potential. I’m proud to be able to help set another on a path for success. However, I must add, as I only learned of this recently, that I am also proud of being awarded second place for the International Society for Performance Improvement 2019 Distinguished Dissertation Award. It was a complete surprise and an incredible honor for me as a human capital strategist, and I am humbly grateful that others are seeing and celebrating the work I’m passionate about.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
There’s always an opportunity to change the narrative regardless of your background. For me, my struggle was managing and balancing life as I started my doctoral program, assisted with small academic side assignments, worked a full-time job, and los[ing] my mom. I knew I was doing the doctoral program for myself, but with my mom being the influence in my life and creating a solid foundation for my future, always emphasizing the importance of God, family, and education, I pushed harder through the program as she became my catalyst. I wanted to complete the program for her, too, while never forgetting about my “Why?” for starting the journey. That, along with prayer, perseverance, motivation, and focus helped.
Though I lost her while completing my program, I chose to focus on the positive of that experience rather than the negative. It’s often said that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but what I realized through this is that it’s best to have your own light shine from within you, so that you may light up the present rather than wait on reaching the light at the end. My mother had been my support, motivation, and strength in spirit even when life and this doctoral journey seemed too challenging. I often thought of my her during these challenges, which gave me the courage to push through, as I constantly reminded myself that, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 [KJV]).
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
Although I only had him for a short while in my life, my granddad was my greatest male role model. He was a hardworking man from Georgia. He served in the military, and he always did things that I didn’t see as the norm for people to do at that age. As I became older and had mentors appear in my life, I began to see attributes of him in each of those mentors.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
The best advice I’ve ever been given was by a professor of one of my very first classes at Florida A&M University. She always told our class to “Plan your work and work your plan.” At that time the phrase really didn’t have much meaning to me. However, it was something that somehow stuck with me. Ever since then, everything I did and have done has been in reference back to that quote: I planned my work and worked my plan. I’ve seen dividends pay off from following this advice, including with my work as a human capital strategist. Thus, whenever I come across a challenge, I remind myself of this advice and it has yet to fail me.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I pay it forward to support other black males by being involved in various service initiatives. One initiative I started nearly a decade ago at my alma mater, Florida A&M University (FAMU): being on the founding Board of the Collegiate 100 at FAMU. Later, while working my first job after graduating college, I moved to Los Angeles, and I joined a community initiative geared toward helping black males of that city. While on a short assignment in South Africa, I volunteered to help underprivileged males in the community. I have always striven to give back whether through service or speaking opportunities. Most recently, in having moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters to continue coaching, mentoring, and facilitating leadership development of young black men.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
I associate manhood with strength and courage; the ability to learn from mistakes and take responsibility for one’s actions. It’s a state of being, a mindset, that sets an example to younger men. Be authentic, be consistent and the best king you can be…
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
What I like most about being a black man is the versatility and how I don’t have to try to be anything or anyone but myself. I like the challenge of the odds being against me, while also being motivated to change the narrative. The challenges and obstacles our ancestors went through give us an incentive to be great in all capacities. I love being a black man, but I especially love being a black man who can be of great influence and inspiration to others.
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.