Rachel Longo is a senior global mobility specialist at Blue Yonder and talks about how her role here supporting associates from all over the world has given her new appreciation for the opportunities afforded in the United States and embracing each other’s differences and cultures. She shares a time where ‘staying comfortable’ in a role pushed her to pivot to a new path, and how empathy is one of the most important qualities when it comes to understanding and supporting others.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have worked for Blue Yonder for over 6 years and love my team and what I do. I am married with two grown children and two grand pets. I love animals especially dogs, nature and traveling.
What’s your career journey been like?
It has been very interesting with over 25 years in an HR environment supporting corporate immigration. Only when I came to Blue Yonder, did I get a chance to support employees globally. Prior to that, I was supporting only U.S. immigration efforts.
When I came to Blue Yonder, I actually wasn’t actively seeking a new position but a recruiter reached out and convinced me that I’d love the hiring manager and they were right! She is still my manager today.
What has your experience been like working globally? How do you manage regional differences – cultures, etc., in your day-to-day interactions?
In working with recruiting and mobility/immigration, I am reminded of how lucky we are in the U.S. as some people from other countries can’t wait to get here. We have a good healthcare system and many opportunities for them and their families.
Everyone is so flexible, too. Those in other regions will always adjust their schedule to align with my calendar which is very nice but also displays their excitement to immigrate. I enjoy the accents and trying new foods and mapping places around the globe I want to visit.
Can you point to a critical moment in your career that really made a difference in your path?
I got too comfortable with the first professional company I worked at for over 15 years. We were acquired, and the new company had outside counsel support and no need for an internal immigration team so all four of us were laid off. I had a hard time finding full-time work and then desperate, I joined a law firm where I worked for three years too long to learn that my people skills and communication were suffering. That legal background however really helped me with my strengths and weaknesses as well as appreciating the importance of a good leader.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
Being challenged is inevitable – we are in full control of how we want to live our lives. I probably would have better faced my challenges and applied myself more.
What makes a good leader?
A good leader lays the foundation for employees to discover their own greatness. If they don’t know the way, they need to learn it so they can guide their team on the path. A leader’s actions should inspire others to excel.
Can you share a time where you recognized how important empathy is regarding others’ perspectives?
This is one of my favorite quotes by Toby Mac: “Do not mock a pain that you have not endured.”
Empathy is the ability to be truly present and hold a safe space for others while understanding the experience and not judging.
As a friend, I try to think about how it must feel to not want to express myself due to an anticipated response. It then helps regulate my emotions and compassion for others.
What do you think are biggest obstacles of diversity in the workplace?
Diversity can mean so many different things and may not be a top priority or top-of-mind for managers. What looks good on paper may be a challenge to implement. There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to diversity, addressing gender and age gaps, ethnicity and race.
Why do you DIVE In?
Everyone deserves happiness, no matter your background, ethnicity, etc. I believe in letting go as our superpower. We need to step out of our boxes and get uncomfortable.
How do you maintain work/life balance, especially during these pandemic times?
I have come to appreciate any alone time – taking time to recharge has been very productive. I like a nice walk, focusing on my breath, reading, taking pictures of nature, rock painting.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I am currently reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. It is a great way to explore race, gender and identity. I have several friends who are librarians and always have good novels to recommend. I honestly would not have picked this book for myself but it has been a very good reminder of how often I show judgement and I need to work on this every day to be a better person.
What’s one fun (or surprising) fact about you?
I have traveled all around the world and love to visit new places but I have resided in the same zip code my entire life. In fact, when I met my husband and found out he already owned a house in my hometown I was a little sad because I always looked forward to moving away. Now, even as our children are grown, I really don’t know where else I would want to hang my hat, so we are looking at RVs to explore locally.