Over the course of her seven years with consulting firm ZS, Samantha Thorpe has done an excellent job of crafting the career that she wants. She arrived at the company with that level of intentionality, having already stopped at several points along her professional journey to sort out exactly where she aimed to go and how she would reach those goals.
Currently working as ZS’ first and only Administrative Specialist in Europe, Thorpe says one of the traits that has served her best in her pursuit of professional growth has been bravery.
“As much as it terrifies me, I push myself to try new things,” she explains. “Pushing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone is how I continue to improve my craft and myself as a person.” It doesn’t hurt to have the support of a company that encourages that level of professional exploration. That kind of flexibility has to be met with a certain amount of initiative as well: within each position that she’s held – starting as a Front Desk Administrative Assistant – Thorpe has demonstrated a desire to provide support for her team well beyond the scope of her position.
Since 2017, a large part of her work has been educating and mentoring junior employees. In addition to presenting the opportunity to support her team in their growth, it also allows her to inform some of the discussions and practices happening around creating more inclusive, diverse, and comfortable spaces for people of colour in the corporate world. In that regard, Thorpe believes that there is action to be taken by both minorities and allies. For example, she encourages addressing microaggressions swiftly, calling on a witness if necessary to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
“You have every right to tell someone not to touch you,” she says. “You have every right to inform an individual that their words or actions have offended you. You have every right to tell someone to respect your boundaries and personal space.”
But this willingness to call out insensitive or downright racist action must also exist on the part of allies: “When you see something that is wrong, call it out,” she suggests. “If you see offensive behavior or hear somebody using offensive language, let them know what they are saying or doing is wrong. Don’t ignore it just because it doesn’t directly offend you.”
As she continues on her path to career advancement, Thorpe also believes we are all in a unique position to change the narrative in real-time.
“We must celebrate each other, recognizing and highlighting the positive aspects of our culture, showing that we can be successful and have generational wealth,” she says, citing Channel 4’s recent #BlackToFront project as an example. “It was such an empowering feeling to see people who look like me on TV and people from my generation producing content I can relate to. We have had so many wins across the board and I just love to see black people win.”
To learn more about ZS or to apply for their upcoming roles, please visit their BYP jobs board here.