A dive into Erika Hamilton’s LinkedIn will quickly prompt you that she has donned many hats. Majoring in hospitality, she has worked as a marketing director, a reservations agent, a social media manager, a group exercise instructor, etc. She now works full-time as an e-commerce assistant at Minimax Homewares.
Despite her diverse experience, the underlying theme in her career trajectory seems to be her deep love for the customer service industry.
Erika is showing us how change doesn’t have to be big and confidence doesn’t only come with age. The sooner one starts recognizing their worth, putting their foot down and asking for what they deserve, the more productive we will all be. She is confident, unassuming and exceedingly charming.
Following are the excerpts from the interview by Nikita Naik.
Q. What drove you to get involved with Lean In and how do you incorporate ‘leaning in’ in your professional life?
A. I had heard about Lean In from interviews with Sheryl Sandberg and loved the idea of a safe space for like minded women to get together and interact with each other. I just started full time work and didn’t know any other women who were working full time and thinking about a career in the long term. Joining Lean In has helped improve my confidence in the work force and helped me find leaders to look up to.
Q. You said you believe in the saying, ‘people don’t leave jobs, they leave bad bosses.’ Could you tell us about the time you had to let go of working with an employer because you were treated unfairly?
A. I have left workplaces who didn’t take me and my aggressive drive for my own future seriously as I couldn’t see a future at those workplaces. I find it difficult to work in organisations that don’t foster growth and learning. I love to learn and find it difficult to work just for a pay cheque. Lean In gave me the confidence and introduced me to other women who have felt like this and have put their foot down and followed through.
Q. As a millennial working in the customer service industry, what kind of leadership style have you most responded to? The kind where you were motivated to do your best work?
A. I work best with a leadership style that treats me as an individual and a valuable part of the team. even though I have been at the bottom of the organisational chart. When my opinions and ideas are heard and sometimes acted on, it makes me feel extremely proud and motivates me to work harder as I thrive off mutual respect and understanding.
Joining Lean In has helped improve my confidence in the work force
helped me find leaders to look up to.
Q. Changing careers paths to seek fulfilment and purpose, is often touted to be the “millennial trend”. Why do you think we subscribe to the ideology of prioritizing a sense of fulfilment over chasing ‘conventional success’?
A. I come from a long line of people doing the same vocation year after year – as many people have – and I was lucky as my dad broke the mold and went out on his own and was successful. So, I grew up believing that you don’t have to accept what everyone thinks you should do. Especially when you can always do what makes you happy.
We’re human beings, not human doings. There’s so much more to life than where your money comes from.
Q. Going back to the time when you made the tough decision of leaving a work environment that didn’t nurture its employees; considering you had just begun your career in the industry, how hard was it to find the confidence within you to say ‘enough is enough and I deserve better’?
A. It was hard to find that confidence. It was a risky move considering I was at the start of my career. However. I am grateful and lucky to have a supportive network around me that gave me job opportunities and friends who could support me if things went sideways.
You don’t have to accept what everyone thinks you should do.
Especially when you can always do what makes you happy.
We’re human beings, not human doings.
There’s so much more to life than where your money comes from.
Q. Who was your role model growing up?
A. Both of my parents were big role models for me growing up, and I grew up in a time where the local government, my schoolteachers and almost all my employers were women. Most importantly, everyone always worked together and asked for help, an important skill that I think some people think is a sign of weaknesses, but I think it is a sign of strength.
Q. Which movie character do you most identify with?
A. Lady Bird McPherson from the film ‘Lady Bird’. She is strong willed and her coming of age story is very relatable for me. I love how her relationship with her mother changes and develops as she grows into an independent adult.
Q. What is your favorite motivational quote?
A. ‘Focusing on the right means you miss the change, which is a mistake’