In 1994 a famous New York rapper burst onto speakers with the opening lyrics, “It was all a dream. I used to read Word Up! magazine.”
If you’re a hip-hop fan, those words are iconic. But beyond its place in culture, that line speaks to the audacity to dream as the precursor to success. The ability to take inventory of your journey and see how all of life’s twists and turns led you to a specific place that just makes sense, is something people hope for.
The moment of dreams turning into reality became tangible 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 wasn’t the best match for him, he could apply those people skills and his natural love for people to create space for himself innovatively and uniquely.
In short, Blackett travels the world and tells the unique stories of his fellow ServiceNow colleagues. The role includes creatively-crafted YouTube videos in a series entitled “Our World Our Work.” That sounds like the dream job, right?
But it’s much more than that. Rooted in a theme of inclusivity, Blackett is ensuring everyone that works for ServiceNow has a sense of belonging. With offices spread across the globe, it can be challenging to have a company culture where each person and each office feels like an equal part. Blackett’s hope is to curate a visible lens on the range of people, cultures, and work processes that exist across the organization.
“To me, it’s meaningful– especially at this moment in time–to be doing something that invites people to be curious about each other,” Blackett said.
As previously mentioned, Blackett was a middle school teacher. Like many people, he needed a job straight out of college, and becoming a middle school teacher became a viable option for income. While he took on the task, his self-awareness allowed him to know that job was not the one for him.
After teaching, he pivoted into the tech industry through sales, leveraging some previous experience as an insurance salesman. Finding a connect that knew of 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 at the company as a Senior Solution Consultant, Blackett encountered a moment that did not rest well with his soul.
During the summer of 2020, an intense time of social unrest, Blackett noticed a slew of companies making statements about the state of affairs. He saw an opportunity for ServiceNow to tune its messaging and he spoke up to company leadership about it. This ultimately led to Blackett being invited to speak on a company-wide livestream where he shared from the heart about his experiences being Black in tech and advocated for ServiceNow to champion racial equity.
One of the leaders that Blackett built a relationship with during this time was Nick Tzitzon, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer. Their conversations eventually led to Tzitzon hiring Blackett into a new role designed to spark meaningful conversations inside and outside the company.
After trying out several projects, Blackett launched a podcast called Inside Work, which focuses on conversations at the intersection of business and humanity. That project sparked something in him, giving him insight that he was on the right path. While the podcast allows for a range of insightful conversations, Blackett had the idea of taking it to the next level by creating something that would immerse viewers in the life and work of a global team that’s working towards a common mission.
Thinking back on some popular travel shows that existed, Blackett went on to successfully pitch the concept that has now evolved into the global series the company features on its YouTube channel.
“I do my work with a lot of gratitude for the fact that I get to do something that’s so meaningful to me,” Blackett expressed. “What I have an attachment to is doing something that’s inspiring to me and hopefully inspiring to others. I want to encourage people to be more real and let more of their humanity show through at work.”
With a deep understanding that tech lacks diversity, this series aims to highlight the beautiful humanity of team members and serve as a tool to encourage more people of color to enter tech. Additionally, the series seeks to break down the systemic and societal pressures to not be authentic in the workplace.
“My long-term vision for this series or the podcast or anything else that we do is to encourage people to authentically reveal themselves and to be curious about others. Working for a global tech company gives us a unique opportunity to journey together with people from a diversity of cultures, viewpoints and identities. I hope that my work can make a small contribution to sparking connections between us,” Blackett described.
Since the start of this series, Blackett has visited India, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands. With ServiceNow’s continually 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, equity, inclusion and belonging issues, what he has curated is a critical part of connecting people, culture and mission.
Deeply committed to this work, Blackett is hopeful for the future, but if he could look back for a second, he has some advice to share.
“Trust the process. Trust the journey,” Blackett said he would advise his younger self. “I could’ve never imagined my career would lead down 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, click here.