On Our Minds
“Meet an On-Ramper” is an interview series in which an On-Ramper discusses their work, their interests, and what it’s like to work at our search firm. In this edition, Search Consultant Imani Doyle (she/her) shares what energizes her about working in the search space and bringing DEI and empathy to organizational culture.
What brought you to On-Ramps?
I‘ve been at On-Ramps for almost four years. I started when I was a little over a year out of college. Before On-Ramps, I managed accounts and sales for coffee at an e-commerce company. Coffee is the love of my life, so that was appropriate. But the job itself was not energizing to me. The parts that I really enjoyed were the vendor relationships and the community I had created at the office, but the overall culture of the organization and the bulk of the work were not motivating. After continued reflection and speaking to some friends about it, I realized I had to make a change and find a job where I felt really inspired.
I wasn’t necessarily looking to work in the job search space, but I started putting out feelers and someone from On-Ramps reached out to me. I went through the interview process and fell in love with the folks and culture. Joining On-Ramps has enabled me to develop and grow as a professional.
Which aspects of the search process interest you the most?
What really excites me about the search process is the strategizing. I think that plays out in two ways: One, I love digging into the details, and two, I love zooming out and assessing the work. I really enjoy creating a plan for a project—whether the project is search-related or a part of an organizational firm-building group, like talent or marketing—and zooming in on the nitty gritty details to determine what needs to happen to bring the big picture to fruition.
And then I find it really interesting to zoom out and ask the big questions: How can we ensure that we’re doing the best work for the client? How can we adjust if we’re not seeing the right candidates? How can we attract more candidates? I would call that the brainstorming portion of the search process.
One of the reasons I enjoy On-Ramps so much is that it’s really collaborative. It’s so energizing to identify a problem and then work with my teammates to find a successful solution. They always have a new insight or approach—it’s so refreshing!
Beyond the search process, you're involved in the CommSquared and Talent committees. How did you become involved in those initiatives and what motivates you to do that work?
CommSquared is our marketing committee where we focus on the firm's internal and external communication as well as community building. My interest in communications goes all the way back to college where I always played a role in marketing whether it be through classes or extracurriculars. And, before working at On-Ramps, I worked in marketing professionally. It was my job to set up the website, pricing, and user experience. I’ve always had this interest in marketing, so CommSquared made sense as the first firm-building group to join.
For the Talent committee, I originally joined because I wanted to be involved in employee engagement. I really like the idea of being a part of building the culture at an organization. Because organizational culture is so important to me, I wanted to have a say in it. As I've stayed with the firm, the purview of the committee has extended into taking care of our team internally. We’re not only looking at organizational culture in terms of wellness, but also creating the feedback culture and performance development—all the things that still make up a culture outside or inside the walls of an office.
What influences your perspective on organization culture?
Two things come to mind. The first one is a book I've read, All About Love by bell hooks. And the reason why that comes to mind is because I believe that organizational culture should center empathy—particularly for talent. There are many things—not necessarily at On-Ramps, but in the traditional corporate world—that are seen as givens. I would like to see us actively and intentionally question those standards. I think it's crucial to use critical imagination to interrogate the norms of organizational culture. There's an opportunity to learn more about the different ways you can enter a space that look different from what you're used to seeing.
I think On-Ramps does a good job with that and I’m always looking to dig deeper. Reading bell hooks was really helpful in pushing me to think about how empathy shows up in my work.
The other influence that comes to mind is the work of Brené Brown, which also focuses on empathy and navigating relationships, as well as emotions in general. She has a podcast called “Unlocking Us,” and her series of conversations has been instrumental in helping me think about workplace culture, particularly how to enter the workspace. She offers a lot of insight into important questions about intra-office dynamics: What does it mean to coach? What does it mean to mentor? How can you give feedback in a healthy, receivable way? What do boundaries at the workplace look like?
Listening to the perspectives of Brené Brown and her show guests, and then bringing them to discussions with my team have been really eye-opening. It keeps me invested and interested in the things that I'm doing now.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to On-Ramps’ culture and search process.
What drives your commitment to DEI?
I think diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a focus of mine pretty much from out of the womb. It’s part of how I move through the world. My college career also reflects that commitment. I majored in African American Studies as an undergrad at Yale, where I was a part of the NAACP, Black Women's Coalition, and performed step and Latin dance. Then, in my first job out of college, I joined an employee resource group, which was like an affinity group. Regardless of the organization or institution that I’m a part of, I’m always going to want to be involved in the DEI initiatives.
Working at On-Ramps, I’ve learned a lot about the range of what equity practices can look like in the workplace through my clients. It all really ties back into my interest in organizational culture and why I got involved in the Talent committee at On-Ramps. DEI is a crucial part of an organization’s culture.
DEI really shows up in my work through the searches I’m a part of and the conversations that we have as a firm. I recognize a lot of the DEI work we do is more around the equity piece and more around the compliance factor of it. But we’re constantly having conversations around diversity as a firm, and I really enjoy being a part of those conversations.
How do you stay energized and motivated in your work?
One way is through the On-Ramps culture. For example, I'm really grateful that On-Ramps has implemented “no meeting Fridays”. Meetings still sometimes happen on Fridays, but if we can avoid it, we do. Even though I enjoy meeting new people, I am an introvert and this job is very meeting-heavy. It can be draining sometimes. It’s nice to have a day without meetings to really focus on the planning aspect of the work because that's where I really get my energy. The behind the scenes planning and the brainstorming are what fuel me. I enjoy meeting new people and I've met some incredibly cool candidates and clients, but when I think about the tasks that I can work on for hours, it's usually the internal stuff like the projects and initiatives that allow us to build those relationships with clients and candidates and each other.
When it comes to refilling my cup, I think about setting clear boundaries around the start of my day and the end of my day. It’s been helpful to develop “rituals” or “traditions”. I’ll make a cup of coffee in the morning to start off my day. Then, to mark that my work day is ending, I’ll actually unplug the monitor and the laptop charger, and flip over my work phone. Especially because we’re working from home, implementing those little things to indicate the break between my work day and the rest of my time has been so important.
There are a lot of activities outside of work that fuel me. Journaling is definitely helpful. Whether I’m doing something active or something more low-key, like yoga, regular exercise is very important to me. I value spending time with friends. I find that those folks really pour back into my cup, but when it comes down to it, I'm somebody who really gets her energy from being alone. It allows me to “turn off”.” So, exploring the world on my own is essential.
When I've had a particularly busy week, refueling looks like a day to myself in which I go out, probably get a massage or get my nails done. I might just walk around the block to make sure I'm getting vitamin D and feeling the sun on my skin. It’s about being intentional and taking the time to check in: How am I feeling? Do I need to meditate? Do I need to take a deep breath? Where is my head at? Usually, I can figure out where my head is emotionally by just sitting in stillness for a little bit. Then, I'm able to do what I need to do to replenish.
How do your interests outside of work influence your work at On-Ramps?
I actually think it’s the other way around—my work has had a positive influence on my non-work life. For instance, I like to plan events and I really enjoy going to different places and striking up conversations with new people. But I think that’s an interest I’ve developed by working in the search space at On-Ramps. Since I've been in this role, I found that my capacity for speaking to new folks, starting conversations, and planning events has been elevated by the skills I've developed here. It’s made me like the things that I already enjoyed doing even more. I've always been someone who enjoys hanging out with friends, meeting new people, but now I just feel like I have the skill sets to take those things to the next level.