How can you draw resilience from your experience?

October 25, 2022

Chris sits down with Aline Eastwick-Field, Indeed's VP of Global Learning and Enablement, to talk about the importance of thriving at work. They discuss how childhood experiences can shape your learning path, why curiosity and openness are key components to growth and what it means to want everyone to find their next job at Indeed. As the executive sponsor of Indeed Latinx in Tech (LIT) inclusion resource group, Aline reflects on Hispanic Heritage Month and how her Mexican heritage shaped who she is today.

- Hello everyone, I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed and welcome to the next episode of Here to Help. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us going all day. And what powers that mission is our people. Here to help is a look at how experience, strength, and hope inspires people to want to help others. My guest today is Aline Eastwick-Field, VP of Global Learning and Enablement here at Indeed. And one thing that the people at Indeed hear me say over and over again is that I want everyone's next job to be at Indeed. We have grown and evolved so much over the years and our people have grown along with the company taking on new roles and new challenges and learning and growing is central to Aline's role here at Indeed. We'll be talking about this throughout our conversation, but this is also Aline's own story. She joined Indeed more than 13 years ago when we were fewer than 100 employees. She has had multiple roles in National Account Sales, Agency Sales, Sales Enablement and Support, and now as VP of Global Learning and Enablement. Aline is also the executive sponsor for Indeed's, Latinx in Tech inclusion resource group. Aline thanks so much for joining me today.

- Hi, Chris. It is great to be here. Thank you for having me. I am so excited and honored to be here and I am looking forward to this conversation.

- Great. Well, let's start where we always start these conversations. How are you doing right now?

- I'm great. I have to say I had a great weekend. It's fall here in New England, so had a beautiful weekend, crisp and got to spend some time with the family. Got to be outside, so it's a great way to start the week.

- Fantastic. Well, let's start with what it is that you do at Indeed. You're the VP of Global Learning and Enablement. Can you tell folks listening what your role is about and how you help people get jobs?

- Yeah. So my role at Indeed is to help Indeedians achieve their goals and be successful in their roles today, tomorrow, and in the future. I primarily support Sales, Client Success and our Scaled Business Success teams. Which means that my role is to ensure our client-facing teams are experts in solving client problems, through their consultative approach in the positioning of our products and ensuring that their clients are successful using our products to achieve their hiring goals. So that in turn helps people get jobs. I'm also focused on ensuring that we're developing all of our people personally and professionally so that we can attract and engage and retain the best talent to help our customers. So my job is internally focused, but I believe that we play a big role in helping people get jobs.

- So your role is a global one, and we're going to get into that in a bit, but I want to start with a little bit of how you got here. You moved around a lot as a kid, and I'd love to hear a little bit about what that looked like, but also really how it impacted you and sort of shaped your view of the world.

- So I did move around a lot. My father was in the hotel business, so I don't think we lived, actually, I know we didn't live anywhere more than two and a half years when I was growing up. So we moved every one to two years until I was in about eighth grade. My dad was British, he was born in Cambridge and grew up in London, but always referred to himself as a citizen of the world. He spent most of his time traveling and he brought my mother and myself along with him for the ride. He had some amazing stories of the many, many adventures he had exploring the world. I was actually born in Mexico. I lived in Acapulco and in Cabo San Lucas. I'm sure you all feel terribly for me about that. But from there we lived in London, we moved to Giza, Egypt for a short amount of time, a couple of months. Then lived in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for about two and a half years. That was the longest I lived anywhere. We moved to Brussels, lived there, and then in Geneva, and then we moved to the US when I was going into junior high school. We lived in Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona for about a year, eventually settling in Miami in Florida. So that is where I spent the majority of my life once we settled down. And I think the experience as a child impacted me in two ways. One is I like to think of myself as resilient. I became really flexible and adaptable, having to make new friends and start at new schools and learn new languages and, you know, live in very different cultures during my childhood. And then I was also exposed to so many different people and customs and traditions that I think my perspective of the world was always one that was very diverse and accepting of everyone and everything. So it was a really interesting childhood that I think shaped me as a person, but also shaped me as a professional.

- So you said that your dad described himself as a, a citizen of the world and it sounds like at least on paper that you clearly were too. How, how did that, so you, you know, obviously resilience is really important for doing that, but how did you develop your own sense of identity and belonging from this constant change and being in a new place over and over and over again?

- Yeah. I think I found a sense of belonging and not belonging. That's probably how I would explain it. I developed an ability to make friends and connect with people easily and deeply, to be comfortable in new situations. So I think that for me was belonging, was just being able to adapt and figure it out as I went. I was also an only child or I am an only child and developed a very creative imagination. I loved reading and getting lost in stories and characters and books and comics and movies. So I spent a lot of my time in that sort of creative space. But I also love animals and always had pets growing up. That was something that probably helped me through. I didn't get a chance to put roots down as a kid and I always longed for that experience. I think having that sense of like strong family ties and community of relationships, that was something that I missed and has always been a reason why I think I'm extremely connected to my Mexican heritage and my Mexican family, the Mexican side of my family. Another thing is I started riding horses when I was seven and that like sort of commitment to something, the routine, the responsibility gave me a mess, a sense of belonging. I had a community of people that I shared that experience with no matter where we were in the world. That was one place where I sort of found a sense of belonging. But I definitely feel like it's, it's made the Latin side of my, my world much more important to me because that community is so warm and so rooted in deep family connections.

- Oh, I love that and especially that idea of, of belonging by not belonging. A couple weeks ago I had the author Jacqueline Woodson on here to help and she talked about discomfort is a muscle and that the more you exercise it, the stronger that muscle becomes and the easier it, not that you are not uncomfortable, but the easier it becomes to be uncomfortable and growth and change usually requires some level of discomfort. So I think we're going to get into that, but it, it sounds like it sets you up for, for some of what you have spent the rest of your career doing. So you talked about the importance and your connection to your Mexican, your mother is Mexican. You are, as I said at the start, the executive sponsor for our Latinx in Tech inclusion resource group. And we are now speaking here at the, at the very end of Hispanic Heritage Month here in the US. And despite all the moving around, can you talk a little bit more about this sense of being rooted in your Mexican heritage?

- Yeah, well first off, I am really excited to be the executive sponsor for LIT. It's a fairly new role for me and, and it's been really great to get to know the team. I feel like I'm still sort of in the learning phase. I haven't yet gotten to do a lot, but it's been really great to be a part of it and it's really important to me because of that sort of root in Latin heritage, in my Mexican heritage that I get to be now part of this community to help internally do some great work at Indeed, but also externally in the community. But you said it Chris. My mom is Mexican. I was born in Mexico and Spanish was my first language. We lived there until I was about five. And so I didn't get to spend a ton of time in Mexico, but I stayed really connected to the Mexican side of my heritage. I've always loved spending time there. My mom lived there part-time for many years. So it was, it was easy to go visit and spend time with family. But as I said, Mexican culture is so warm and so rooted in family and I absolutely love that. So getting to be a part of, you know, that community here at Indeed is really exciting. I'm also really excited that I now have a co-sponsor in Valeria Orozco, who I think was also a guest on Here to Help at one point. And, and so it's really exciting for me to, to bring those two worlds together in this role.

- I'd love to talk a little bit more about the sort of development of resilience and you mentioned your, your passion and your experience in equestrian sports. And so this was a big deal for you. I know from having talked to you about this before, that this was a really significant part of your life. And so can you, can you talk about the relationship to that discipline and how that also helped foster resilience?

- Yeah, so I think for me, resilience came from both of those experiences. The moving around forces it. You have to pick up and do it all over again and you learn how to, not just to survive, but to thrive in sort of that constant change. It becomes easier to connect with people, you're more willing to take risks and to try new things. Nothing really scares me because I know I'll figure it out and just make it work. But the horse riding part of it, that part is, it teaches you a lot about not just hard work and responsibility and commitment, but the, the sort of having to pick yourself up and keep going, resilience. I remember many times falling off three, four times in one lesson and having to get back up in the saddle until I didn't. And I've had, you know, broken bones, collarbone, foot, ribs. I've had a horse fall on me. I've been kicked in the chest yet that didn't stop me. I was determined and I loved it. And you know, I definitely had a goal of, in my, you know, my many years of being an equestrian of going to the Olympics and I was working really hard to towards that. But it doesn't come without sort of the, the hard work of you don't get to just show up and ride a horse, right. You have to clean the horse, you have to clean the stall, you have to clean the tack. You have to, you have to do all the hard stuff to get to do the good stuff. And so it teaches you those qualities of work ethic and like I said, responsibility, commitment. And I believe that all those things shaped me as well as a, as a person is, you know, in that sort of resilience of 'hey, I'm going to, it's hard, but I'm going to keep going' and I can get, you know, sort of knocked down multiple times and that's not going to stop me. So yeah, I owe, I think I owe a lot of that to my, to my days as an equestrian.

- Yeah, so I mean, I think there's a component of this where, you know, the phrase, you know, get back on the horse, like it's very literal when it comes to equestrian sports that that's exactly what you're doing. That's sort of like having to do that and you describe some, you know, some fairly significant physical dangers that come along with that sport compared to other sports. But, in addition to all the stuff that just goes with the discipline of being an elite athlete, to me, one of the things that's fascinating about the equestrian world is that it's a partnership, right? So it's not just like your own skill. And I talked about this actually last week on here to help a little bit with Haben Girma and her relationship with her guide dog. She's a Deafblind lawyer and activist. And it's one thing to have a set of tools that you work with that is another, when you actually have to develop an interdependent relationship with another creature and your success is intertwined with theirs. So I'm curious if you think about it, like how has that shaped your role in, in as a leader basically in the business world and having had to develop that kind of interdependent relationship with another creature?

- Yeah, it's, I think there's a lot of parallels between riding horses and leadership and specifically leadership. With riding, you depend on an animal and animals are unpredictable for one. So it's really about communication. You really have to, so it's almost like an art and a skill, right? You have to learn how to communicate non-verbally through what I believe is consistency, right? You have to show up and do it the same every day, otherwise the animal doesn't know what to expect and is not able to trust you. There's a respect that comes along with... on both sides, right? You have an animal who needs to respect you, and they only do that if they trust you and you're credible and you're consistent and you treat them well and you also have to respect the animal because they are really, you know, big and powerful. And so there's this sort of balance that you have to strike with the communication of. I think consistency for me is always what, what I think about when I think about, you know, riding. Consistency, respect, and understanding. And that's the same with leadership, right? You have a team and it's a mutual relationship. They depend on you, you depend on them. It's about communication, it's about showing up, it's about leading by example. It's about treating people with respect, being credible and trustworthy and building that respect and relationship over time, right? You don't just, you don't just get that because you're a leader, you have to actually earn it. And, so there's a lot about, you know, caring for the animal and being able to, you know, sort of over time achieve something together. The other parallel I would draw is in how you as a leader would handle stress or handle pressure, right? When you are riding a horse, the animal can sense if you are nervous or if you are, you know, not in a good place. And so if you show that, then the animal loses confidence and you know, the horse will react. So it's very similar to me in how you lead. It's if you're a good leader, you are able to maintain calmness under pressure. You can, you have this responsibility to sort of lead and be grounding and be calm. And if you don't have that, it impacts a trust, it impacts the confidence of the team. So I think there's probably a lot more parallels, but for me, those are the two that I think translate directly to how I think about leadership.

- So let's jump into your role today and maybe a little bit about how you got there. So as I said, you've been in Indeed now for 13 and a half years. You started in Sales leadership. What was the path to the Learning and Development world that you're in now?

- I think it started with a risk, and I, you know, it sort of goes back to my roots of feeling, not being sort of scared to try new things or being willing to step into unknown territory. I was given an opportunity or presented an opportunity to step out of my role as a senior director of our US agency relations team and take on this Sales training and support role. And I think I've always been one to step into anything that is asked of me. So, you know, there's a sort of element of like, yes, I'm willing to do anything, to solve any problem, to try anything. And even though I didn't have that experience, I hadn't done Learning and Enablement directly. I had, I knew that I had 25 plus years of success in Sales and Sales leadership roles across all the different areas, right. Staffing, recruitment, advertising, inside enterprise, channel sales. So I thought, what better way to use my experience than to help others at Indeed or within, you know, the Sales and Client Success world to succeed as well. And with that, I think over time the role has changed. I have taken on, you know, other teams, for example, Client Success and Sales came together, you know, a while ago, and that was new. We also have now, are now supporting the Finance and the Legal team and the Hire team here at Indeed, and trying to take some of the great things that we established on the revenue generating side. And scale that and help others at Indeed also bring Learning and Development to their teams. And then we also run our About Indeed team, which is really the onboarding for all Indeedians through our Introduction to Indeed program, which is another great example of sort of something that, that didn't exist yet at Indeed, but we saw a really great opportunity to help others at Indeed. And so I would say it all comes down to being open to doing new things and not being scared of the unknown. Willingness to sort of solve either new problems or old problems. And then to step in to do whatever was needed of me at that time and do whatever it takes to help is how I ended up in Learning and Development. It was definitely not planned. It just, it worked out and I'm, you know, really, really thrilled to be here. I love what I do.

- So can you talk about why Learning and Enablement is so important for organizations and what are some of the things that you and your team are working on right now?

- Yeah, I think you said it at the beginning, Chris, what powers our mission is our people. And to me, learning is important because it's an investment in our people, and it also prepares our people for the roles that they are in. So, you know, ensuring that everyone can be successful and everyone is equipped with the knowledge and the skills that they need to achieve their goals, and also do the work beyond their day to day. It's also how we develop people for their next role, whether it's within their function or not. And it of course is how we end up, you know, attracting and developing and retaining our top talent. So Learning and Enablement to me is about giving people the tools to succeed and continuing to grow personally and professionally, which matters to us as an organization because our people are our most important asset. And supporting them in their roles and investing in their future is really important to, you know, to the success of our people.

- As I said now a a couple times and you've referenced, you know, but one of the things that we believe is we want everyone's next job to be at Indeed, and that's what you and your team are focused on. Can you, can you talk about why, well, first of all, I mean, I know why I say it, but why do you think it's important that people feel like their next job can be at indeed and what kind of progress do you think we're making?

- So I think our job is to support Indeedians, at every step of their career journey. And, whether they're starting something new, a new role, or they're starting at Indeed, or, you know, they were ensuring that they can succeed in that, the role that, that they can succeed in that, and they can succeed in the role that they're in. Or we're helping them explore what's next, what, you know, discover what their next opportunity is. It's our responsibility to do that. One of the things this year that we worked on or have been working on is really simplifying the access to the learning and all of the things that we offer Indeedians. I think we do a lot, but it's complex and it's not easy to, to find. So we worked really hard this year to sort of simplify the journey into those three buckets: preparing people for their new role, helping them succeed in their role, and then finding their next role or achieving that next step. And, then from there, really I think the next, the next level is to make sure that we're offering really great programming across every step of the journey. We have, as I mentioned, a lot of programs already, but there's more we can do specifically in the experiences and the peer to peer connections in, you know, making sure that learning is not just, I took this class or I completed this course, but learning is happening all the time. And, you know, people have access to whatever it is that they need at that moment to learn, because everyone learns differently, right? There's opportunities to learn and everything we do, but there's also the difference between formal learning and just, hey, I got to do this thing, I stretched myself. I had this experience in meeting someone new or in, you know, this series, for example, is a great, a great way for people to learn just by listening to others' experiences. So those are the types of things that I think we want to do more of, but we just want to make it really, really easy for people to learn without even thinking about learning. It's all about the culture and, you know, making sure that it's sort of built in to what we do at Indeed.

- So for leaders who might be listening right now at Indeed, or in other organizations, how would you advise them to think about helping their employees learn and grow and thrive at work?

- I think making learning and development a priority. Investing in it, resourcing it, making time for it, encouraging everyone to do their part. So senior leaders should role model it, should celebrate it, should recognize it. Managers need to support it and make time, make it a priority for their people. And then everyone plays a role, right? So again, it's really about everyone knowing that like, learning doesn't just happen in this sort of traditional formal way, and it happens all the time. And so everyone plays a role in ensuring that we're curious. We are open, we have a mindset that allows us to have those experiences to just continuously grow as people.

- So what you're describing really sounds like that the sort of fundamental culture and community that is required. So it's one thing to have a team that has curriculum that they can offer to people, but that's very different than saying we have a culture of learning and growing and that we have the community and the support, which is not just coming from the team whose job title has that, but from managers and peers and leaders. So how do you think about sort of creating and fostering that community and that culture of learning?

- I think it happens organically in having the opportunity to learn, but also for, as I mentioned, having that sort of curiosity and the openness to it. You know, I've been, I sort of, you know, have that have said this, but putting that pressure on learning as a thing that you have to do versus recognizing failures and learning from that or celebrating learning that happens as a result of, you know, meeting someone or doing something outside of your job scope, right? So solving a problem because you identify that there's, there's a need for something different. And just taking the initiative to go and say, let me solve this problem, even though it's not part of my job description. I think for me, that's happened a lot, right? Is just saying, oh, hey, there's this, this need for everyone at Indeed to have foundational knowledge. Let's build a program that allows for that. Let's go get the buy-in from the right, the right people. So I think it comes with, again, a responsibility across everyone to be open to sort of working outside of your guardrails and really looking for opportunities to grow personally and also solve problems or be part of solutions outside of the traditional, you know, this is, this is what I'm responsible here and I need to go and just focus on this one thing. It's also to me about helping others, right? You having that openness to help others achieve their goals. I think it's built into, you know, our dimensions, but that to me is also a big part of fostering this culture of learning and creating this community that supports learning, is that you have that support system across not just your team, but other teams to achieve your goals. And, that comes with, you know, with, with sort of that proactiveness of I want to solve problems, I want to help people, I want to do more than what I'm doing. I want to make a bigger impact than what I'm currently having and I think I can. And, again, without sort of having that expectation of what it's going to get you, to me it really is a selfless sort of act of I want to help, but not because it's going to get me something but because I know that this is the right thing and it's going to do good. And then with that comes opportunity, learning comes growth just organically.

- Yeah, I love that lens of just usefulness to others. So that's like a really important thing to me personally and professionally, that when I think about how I want to continue to learn and grow and develop it is really looking at it through the perspective of what are the things that stand in the way of my usefulness to other people. So what are the areas where I can absorb new ideas and new perspectives, new thinking that will allow me to be more helpful. And it's, you know, we've talked about this before, but it's sort of like the connection between learning and inclusion, which is really important to you in your role with the Latinx in Tech group. That you know, some of the same qualities, the openness and curiosity and the ability to listen. Those are the essential ingredients of learning, but also essential ingredients of inclusion. So can you talk a little bit about how you think the, the sort of connection between those two things might be?

- Yeah, I think it, it brings me back to where I started. Inclusion starts with an openness to learn and listen. And that often comes from the experiences and the connections and having the mindset to learn and listen to other perspectives, to other ideas, to other approaches, to try new things, to help people. You know, it comes with having empathy, being able to see things from others' point of view, and then really truly caring about other people. So with that, I think you just automatically unlock inclusion if you have the two, it's almost like the two go together. You can't have one without the other. You can't have, you know, learning without having then the mindset, the open mind to be more inclusive. And you can't be inclusive without having that willingness to learn and be open to understand more than just the perspective you have or the things that you know, or that you have experienced your whole life. So to me, they're one and the same. They go together. And, I think if I go back to my sort of, you know, early, early years, I think that shaped me, right? Having that exposure to all the different cultures and being almost forced to adapt and be flexible. So for me, it happened because I had to, but I think that in a lot of cases, people almost have to be more intentional about it and more, more proactive about being both having that learning growth mindset, but also being inclusive in, you know, more than just one dimension.

- So I asked you before about, you know, advice to leaders. What would you say to folks who are early on in their career who love this idea of, yeah, of course I want to learn and grow and become, you know, better and more facile in all these different areas, but don't know where to start. So where, how would you think about starting if you're early on in your career on this learning and growth journey?

- Well, my advice first and foremost is to anyone is just work hard. I think that is, it opens up opportunity in itself. And a lot of the theme that I think has come out here is that be willing to solve problems that don't necessarily, that aren't necessarily obvious and be willing to help others. Because all those things push you to learn and grow. And also, and also just experience new things that will open up doors, right? The being curious and asking questions to me is key. It's like you have to be willing to be proactive about learning and getting answers to things you don't know or that you have not experienced before. That taking risks piece to me is huge because if you don't take a risk, then you may not know what you don't know. And it again, opens doors to not only learning, but uncovering things you didn't even know you might like or want to do. So taking risks and not being afraid of sort of the unknown, not thinking that everything is linear. There's so many opportunities to go forwards and backwards and sideways to move ahead. You know, I think when I think about my own career, I, you know, certainly hasn't been linear, and it's because I was willing to take sort of side, move to the side, or even moves backward to then eventually take more steps forward. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. At least for me, it's been true. And then every opportunity in my mind is an opportunity to learn from someone. So every person you meet, every conversation you have, every project or experience you have is learning. So those things shape you and help you make better decisions or help, help guide, you know, sort of the direction you want to go. So I think my advice is, is all of those things, it's a lot. But being open and flexible and willing to, to take chances and risks.

- So you've used all these different phrases like organic or sideways and backwards and non-linear. And so what about people who just want a structured approach? Just tell me what to do, ABC, I'm going to, if I check these boxes, I'll get there. Is there a path that's also a little more structured or predictable or how do you think about the balance there?

- Yeah, I do. I think that's okay. I don't think it's the same for everybody. And I think that's why we have structured paths, right? So that there is a roadmap of what the opportunities are, whether it's in learning or it's in a career path. So for some that is perfectly okay. I think all I've been trying to say is that don't be set on that because you could miss an opportunity to potentially learn or do something that you didn't even know was possible. But I think structure is good, and I think having learning paths or learning journeys and clear career paths in terms of what's next for me or what my opportunity is, is really important because that provides clarity. And that also makes it easier to set goals on what you want to do and how you're going to get there. It also helps the others around you know how to help, right? So whether it's through learning or it's through coaching and your leader, or it's through the company providing very clear sort of, here's what you have to do to get to the next step and here is the next step. All those things are really important and I wouldn't want anyone to walk away thinking that we shouldn't think about things. It's just not the only way. And for me and my experience, that hasn't necessarily been the way. I think you need both, right? You need formal training or formal learning, formal enablement to support you in having those really clear, whether it's knowledge or skills to help. But you also need sort of the, the learn by doing, the experiences, the conversations, the risks to balance it out. So, Chris I agree with you a hundred percent. Like, I think it depends on the person. I think both are equally important, but I certainly wouldn't, I don't think anyone should be set on one way or the other. It should be, you know, what makes sense for the individual.

- As we come to a close here, I always ask the same final question of everyone, which is, you know, looking back over the last two and a half years and all the world's been through and all that we've been through, you know, individually and as a business. And with all of the challenges that we've been through and the challenges ahead. What in all of this has left you with some hope for the future?

- It really comes down to balance for me of good versus bad. I do think there's a lot of things out there that are not great, right? And that's never going to change. But in my mind, good always wins. And whether it's the people who come together to help others in a time of need, or the people who devote their lives to changing the world for the better, or the companies like Indeed who are making a difference in you know, a lot of different ways. Everywhere you look, someone is doing something good or positive for the world. And as long as, as we have that, I'm optimistic. It's like the little things, right? You look and you see people who are making it their priority to be positive. And I also think the future generation is doing some really amazing things. Like I look at my daughter who's 10 and you know, she's so positive and she cares so much about the right things, whether it's, you know, the environment or people. And so I'm optimistic for the future.

- Fantastic. Well, Aline thank you so much for joining me today for this conversation. Thank you for everything that you've done for Indeed over the last 13 and a half years in so many different roles and capacities and especially thank you for everything you're doing to help everyone in Indeed to learn and grow so we can all help more people get jobs.

- Thank you, Chris. It's great to be here.