In 1994, a famous New York rapper opened the speakers with the opening lyric, “It’s all a dream. I used to read Word Up! magazine.”
If you’re a hip-hop fan, those words are iconic. But more than its place in culture, that line speaks to the courage to dream as a precursor to success. Being able to take inventory of your journey and see how all the twists and turns brought you to a particular place that makes sense, is something people look forward to.
The moment of dreams becoming reality was remarkable for ServiceNow team member Rob Blackett. As a former middle school teacher, Blackett had an unconventional entry into tech. Although his career in the halls of education was not the best match for him, he could use those people skills and his natural love for people to create a space for himself innovatively. and strange.
In other words, Blackett travels the world and tells the strange stories of his colleagues at ServiceNow. The role includes creatively produced YouTube videos in a series titled “Our Earth Our Work.” That sounds like a dream job, right?
But it is more than that. Rooted in a theme of inclusivity, Blackett ensures that everyone who works for ServiceNow has a sense of belonging. With offices scattered around the world, it can be difficult to have a company culture where every person and every office feels like an equal part. Blackett’s hope is to curate a visible lens on the array of people, culture, and work processes that exist throughout the organization.
“For me, it’s meaningful– especially at this time– to do something that invites people to be interested in each other,” says Blackett.
As previously mentioned, Blackett is a middle school teacher. Like many people, she needed a job straight out of college, and becoming a middle school teacher became a viable option for income. As he does the work, his self-awareness allows him to know that the job is not for him.
After teaching, he moved into the tech industry through sales, using some previous experience as an insurance salesman. Finding a connection that knew a position at a software company that sold software for insurance companies, things seemed to line up for Blackett.
From there, Blackett held other tech jobs, ultimately leading him to ServiceNow. Starting with the company as a Senior Solution Consultant, Blackett encountered a moment that did not rest well in his soul.
In the summer of 2020, a time of intense social unrest, Blackett noticed many companies making statements about the state of affairs. He saw an opportunity for ServiceNow to adapt its messaging and talked to the company’s leadership about it. Ultimately, Blackett was invited to speak in a company-wide livestream where he shared from the heart about his experiences being Black in tech and advocated for ServiceNow to promote racial equality.
One of the leaders Blackett had a relationship with during this time was Nick Tzitzon, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer. Their conversations led to Tzitzon hiring Blackett in a new role designed to spark meaningful conversations inside and outside the company.
After trying several projects, Blackett launched a podcast called Inside Work, which focuses on conversations at the intersection of business and humanity. That project energized him, giving him the perspective that he was on the right track. While the podcast allows for a range of insightful conversations, Blackett had the idea to take it to the next level by creating something that would immerse viewers in the life and work of a global team working towards a common mission.
Reimagining several popular travel shows that have existed, Blackett successfully developed the concept that has now evolved into a global series that the company features on its YouTube channel.
“I do my job with great gratitude for the fact that I get to do something that is so important to me,” Blackett declared. “What I’m attached to is doing something that inspires me and hopefully inspires others. I want to encourage people to be more authentic and let more of their humanity show in the work.”
With a deep understanding that technology is without diversity, this series aims to highlight the beautiful humanity of the team members and serves as a tool to encourage more people of color to enter technology. Additionally, the series seeks to break down systemic and social pressures to not be authentic in the workplace.
“My long-term vision for this series or the podcast or anything else we do is to encourage people to truly express themselves and be curious about others. Working for a global tech company gives us a unique opportunity to travel with people from different cultures, perspectives and identities. I hope that my work can make a small contribution to sparking connections between us, ” described Blackett.
Since the start of this series, Blackett has visited India, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands. With ServiceNow’s ever-expanding global footprint, he won’t soon run out of new locales to feature.
While work like Blackett’s is not the only solution to diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging issues, what she curates is a critical part of connecting people, culture and mission.
Deeply committed to this work, Blackett is optimistic for the future, but if he can look back for a moment, he has some advice to share.
“Trust the process. Trust the journey,” Blackett said she would advise her younger self. “I never thought my career would take this path, but I’m grateful that I’m learning to embrace uncertainty. Our lives and our careers take unexpected twists and turns and sometimes the best plan is to plan to be surprised. “
To learn more about the “Our World Our Work” series and ServiceNow, press here.