AAP & Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight: Youlanda Mack
AAP & Tocqueville Society Member, Youlanda Mack
IT Technical Lead for Oracle ERP and Cloud Applications
Cox Enterprises, Inc.
Tell us about your role at Cox Enterprises and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?
As an IT technical lead for ERP and Oracle Applications, I am responsible for the operational support of the PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) and Autonomous Oracle Integration Cloud Applications. My day-to-day HCM responsibilities include the overall management of data and infrastructures that run applications for all Cox companies (CEI Enterprises, Cox Communication & Cox Automotive). These activities can range from hardware infrastructure support, database management, application modifications\migrations, and batch performance for HR related jobs such as employee benefits and payroll. I also support application modification and system uptime consumptions for the processing of cloud interfaces for with Cox Suppliers and vendors.
Cox is committed to giving back, volunteerism, and mentorship to help server communities. As part of that commitment, all employees of Cox have these values as an individual objective. Cox encourages and offers paid time off for employees to participate and serve local communities and volunteer events that will help to make a better future for the next generation.
As a Cox employee, I have those same values. I am strategically contributing to the Cox company goals by giving and being involved in several corporate and community volunteer events. I am committed to performing my job with integrity while helping to empower people to overcome their challenges and have opportunities to improve their quality of life.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in IT?
Almost every aspect of life touches IT and technology so it is a great career choice. Technology continues to grow and change rapidly. I would encourage them explore multiple areas in IT (Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber Security, Mobile, Virtual Reality, Web, etc.) and multiple roles (Architect, Business Analyst, Database Administrator, Developer, Software or Security Engineer, etc.) to find an area that you really enjoy working in. I would also advise them to expand their knowledge with continuous learning in IT, soft skills and leadership, set development goals, read books, attend training on a regular basis, and know yourself and accept your flaws. Lastly, I would advise getting a mentor early on in your career to help guide you and provide open and honest feedback.
You have a long list of experience volunteering and mentoring in the community. What first sparked your interest in philanthropy and why did you become an AAP Cabinet member?
My interest in in philanthropy is simply because I am a beneficiary of philanthropy myself growing up in a lower income household with a single mother and it is a passion for me to help others. I know firsthand the difference philanthropy has made in my life. I received financial assistance, college entrance exams, college applications, identify college majors, etc. all of which help me attend college. I often think back and appreciate the mentorship, encouragement, lessons, and inspiring words of people who have crossed my path and made me a better person for the sharing of themselves. I am a person of faith and I truly believe “To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48)”. Giving back is part of my values, beliefs and gratifying experience. It is also an honor and privilege to share my mentorship, knowledge, finances, service and time volunteering to serve local communities and great causes like the African American Partnership. Being a philanthropist specifically for AAP has the added benefit of being part of my heritage. It is truly a passion and self-fulfillment goal of mine to inspire others to overcome difficult and challenging circumstances. Furthermore, it is embedded in my heart and soul to make a difference in life and beyond myself. Being an AAP Cabinet member provides me the opportunity to do so.
You have mentored others in the community, what advice would you give to a younger Youlanda Mack?
First, I would start with the advice of obtaining a couple of mentors. I would have a mentor in my profession to help me navigate my professional career and identify talents that I possibly did not see in myself. I would also have a second mentor that was more experienced in life and a good sounding board to help me with decisions. This second mentor could be another businessperson, coworker, friend or relative that I respect and admire. The two mentors can provide guidance, open and honest feedback from different prospective.
Another piece of advice to my younger self would be to engage in public speaking at a young age. Being an African American female and a minority in the IT field, I believe public speaking would have helped embolden me to communicate more effectively and proficiently. I also believe public speaking builds up your confidence to creatively tell your story to get your idea recognized and shared with others. Ultimately, I believe mastering public speaking improves your overall interactions with others.
As a final point to my younger self; stay true to who you are. Know that what I do now does not define who I am and who I will become later.
Who is your favorite American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
I have a list of favorite American Trailblazers but there are two that I really admire. One of my dearest trailblazers is my mother. Her willingness to sacrifice to support me in my aspirations in whatever I chose to do. She supports me 100%. Another great trailblazer for me is Michelle Obama for me. She is one of the most inspiring persons of this decade. I really like her life story and the transparency that she shows in her appearances and speaking engagements. She shares stories and life lessons of her struggles and accolades of how she worked through and succeeded in overcoming life’s challenges. As part of her accolades, she has been presented three honorary doctorate degrees and recently won a Grammy for her spoken word for her memoir “Becoming. Educationally, professionally, personally and her elegance of being the first lady of the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama represents pure excellence. She certainly inspires African American women to know that we can think differently, dream differently because it is possible to reach our full potential.