Dethra Giles
Chief Bridge Architect, ExecuPrep

2. Did you have a favourite teacher at school? Who was that person and what did they teach you?

Ms. Grisby, 5th grade elementary school.

She was the first Black teacher I remember. I loved everything about her. Her hair was almost honey blonde, her skin was caramel brown like mine and she was sassy.  Not “I have an attitude” sassy, but  “I know what I am talking about and you know you like it” sassy.

I was a talkative child and prior to Ms. Grisby, it always got me in trouble. Teachers would complain to my mother, send notes home, and lower my marks all because I was talkative.  Not Ms. Grisby. She would jokingly tell my mother “that girl can talk. I moved her from her friend and she talks to everyone I sit her next to. I sat her by me and she talks to me. But… it’s cool.”

I wish I could find her.

5. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

I really can’t remember when I “became an adult.” I feel like it just happened. I began making adult decisions at 6 and they progressively increased, never decreasing.

7. What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?

I think most people are good and want to do right; we just live in a system that prevent their better nature from thriving.

Nature vs. nurture.  In 2007 I had my 2nd child, a boy. Prior to 2007 I was adamant that the difference between boys and girls was 100% nurture.  In walks my son.  Exposure to him and other little boys via him changed my mind significantly. Now, I still believe that boys and girls are socialized differently but I am no longer a 100 percenter. I feel as if about 70-80% is nurture, that 20-30% stands for a great deal of difference between the genders.

12. If we were to go and speak to people who don't think very highly of you, what do you think they would say?

I wasn’t ready for what she said. Just because it is the truth does not mean everyone needs to know it or wants the truth. She didn’t have to say that.

13. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

That I prefer extroversion (am an extrovert). I am an only child (was raised as an only child) and never wanted a sibling. I enjoy my time alone. I do love people but I really enjoy alone time.

18. In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for alarm? In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for celebration?

They are one in the same: there is both cause for alarm and celebration concerning the unrest in the US around race.  If we don’t get this right it could tear our country apart but if we do we will be a shining light. I am alarmed because the opportunity to get this wrong is ever present and celebrating because there is an equal opportunity to get it right.

19. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What did you learn from the experience?

I have become comfortable being the outsider, it is my world. The better question is when was the last time I did not feel like an outsider.

22. What’s your desktop/mobile screensaver? Take a screenshot and attach it to your answer!

My two children as young children (4 and 1)

25. Cheese or Chocolate? What kind?

That is like saying right or left arm. I am not picking.

26. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Selling to Vito by Anthony Parinello

29. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

The Joker.

He lives in a world where nuance has made him the villain. He and Batman are the same and society has deemed Batman a hero and the Joker a villain. But what if society had told Joker, who is equally intelligent, strategic and motivated, that he was good, that Gotham needed him, that his wit and intelligence was genius and not sinister, would Gotham be sending out a Joker signal instead?

30. If you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

Berry Gordy Jnr; Jacinda Ardern; Martin Luther King Jnr

Berry Gordy Jnr

Jacinda Ardern

Martin Luther King, Jnr

32. Can you give a work example of a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

A good idea at the wrong time is a bad idea. I was new to a very old and drenched in tradition institution. I felt like I could come with my great/grand ideas that “just made sense” and everyone would bow at my fee. Why wouldn’t they, I was bringing great ideas.  What I learned was I was moving too quickly and left the people I needed behind. I introduced ideas that they just weren’t ready for. Because they were not ready they rejected the ideas totally. Though the ideas were great for the org they never happened because I did not assess the timing.

A good idea at the wrong time is a bad idea

33. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

Relationship building.

I have historically been in positions where I needed authority that I did not have. I had to learn to develop relationship so I could use my influence to get things done.

37. Who was the best person you ever hired? Why were they so good?

Ivy Horn.

She had all the skills but came to the job to learn and really dove in and did the work.  She was is a great person: honest, professional, eager learner, humble…


40. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? What was the situation?

Yes, as an entrepreneur I am quite often. I handle it perfectly. I don’t desire to be the expert in everything. So, when I am with the accounting team or IT team I am the weakest link and that makes me happy.

41. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

It scares me that we do not get the respect and credit for how much we contribute to the success of the organization. This means in critical financial times we get placed on the chopping block too quickly

44. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?

Virtual work. I hope that organizations will assess all of their position to determine the feasibility of making each position a virtual one.

46. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

Be OK not knowing.  Everyone wants to know but no one want to learn. If you don’t know and it matters, change it. But, if you don’t know and it doesn’t matter to you, don’t learn it just to look good.

Spend time on what you need to know and what matters. I am completely ignorant in some stuff and I am comfortable with that because I don’t feel the need to look smart. The things I know I am a genius, the things I need to know I study, the things I don’t know, don’t matter and I don’t need to know, I am OK not knowing. Ex. I don’t know IT. I have learned what I need to know to operate proficiently. Outside of that I will not be fixing any hardware or software. Could I learn it? Absolutely, but what will that accomplish? I may look smart to a few but in actuality I will harm my company. The time I spend learning IT would be better spent fine-tuning my expertise, consulting with a client, writing curriculum, completing a bid…I am comfortable not knowing IT.

I am ok with not knowing

47. Name one person who has had an extraordinary impact on your career. What did they do and what did you learn from that person?

My mother. Sounds cliché but life dealt her a pretty bad hand, but it also dealt her a few good cards as well.  She never pretended like she had a good hand but also did not focus on the bad hand to the detriment of getting the full value from those good cards. She never lied to me about the role she played in our situation. My father did not play his full role and when I would ask about his failures she NEVER said a bad thing about him. She would simply say “I was not diligent in my selection process. I should have done… I knew better than to… But this is how we are handling it now.” She taught me SO much about responsibility. I take that through life and it has served me better than any other education.

Thanks to Dethra Giles, for contributing to The Recruiters Tribune. Connect with Dethra on LinkedIn and Twitter

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