Jasmine Harvey is pursuing her MBA while working full-time as a buyer for Viasat, a global communications and satellite internet company. Balancing home, work, and school while maintaining a 3.9 grade point average has been quite a challenge. Jasmine had a perfect 4.0 until she took one of the hardest classes in her program, Managerial Economics and Global, during this COVID pandemic. She finished a full 15 percentage points above the class average, but was still 0.6 points away from an "A".
"I was devastated after receiving my first B," she says. "I have two more classes remaining, and I know I am going to hit this out of the park. I'm speaking into existence that I will complete my MBA with only one B."
I don't doubt that she will.
Jasmine applies that level of drive, determination, and focus to everything in her life, whether it's launching a Black Professional Alliance (BPA) chapter at Viasat's Duluth campus or advancing her career and plotting her way towards her dream job. We sat down to discuss her career journey, what it's like being a Black woman at Viasat, and how she optimizes her development at work, in the classroom, and beyond.
From government to private industry
Jasmine spent several years working as a purchasing specialist for the United States Army, at Fort Benning, Georgia. She enjoyed the work, but realized that her opportunities for growth were minimal, particularly since leadership positions were seldom vacated. "I became uninterested with the repetitiveness and was determined to expand my career," says Jasmine, who spruced up her LinkedIn profile and later contacted by a Viasat recruiter.
Highly impressed with the interview, Jasmine quickly accepted Viasat's offer to come on board as a Procurement Specialist. "I researched the company and saw that they received several awards for being one of the best places to work," she notes. "It appeared that Viasat is not just a place of work, but they actually care for their employees. Not to mention, I've never been employed with a company who offered tuition reimbursement."
Although her responsibilities are similar to her previous work at Fort Benning, the challenges she endured were the complete opposite. Jasmine was unknown to the satellite industry. "In the beginning, it was like being at a new school; surrounded by unfamiliar faces and learning from a new teacher. At times, I became very frustrated trying to grasp the information." Now, two and a half years into her career at Viasat, Jasmine is mentoring and answering questions from other new buyers.
Leaning into her career development
Jasmine knows exactly where she'd like to be in a few years: achieving the goal of being promoted into a leadership or management role at the Duluth location. She's already chasing after that goal by enrolling in Viasat's mentorship program.
Jasmine matched with Ron Rhodes, Director of Operations, who is listed as the most compatible mentor for her career goals. Jasmine is preparing for her first meeting with Ron. "I'm excited to hear about Ron's career journey and the challenges he faced along the way. Ron came on board as an Operation Program Manager and worked his way to the Director's position, and that's the typical goal for me also," says Jasmine.
Thrilled for the opportunity to obtain advice from people sitting in seats she one day hopes to occupy, Jasmine plans to select the director of purchasing, as her next mentor. "His extensive knowledge with Viasat is a perfect fit for my career guidance," she says, with poise.
Jasmine credits her success to the opportunities offered at Viasat and supporting cast. Formal programs, tuition reimbursement supporting her MBA, and the opportunity to visit Viasat headquarters for training (after which Jasmine developed a presentation to share her learnings with her team in the Duluth office) are just a few tools available to help move oneself to the next level.
Her coworkers have also played a critical role in her development. Jasmine says that she is grateful for Charlotte White, who has been at Viasat for over 40 years. Charlotte provides calmness, techniques, and workarounds to unique situations. "I wouldn't be in the place I am today if it wasn't for her," says Jasmine. "She often reminds me that this is not a sprint, but more like a marathon. It takes time to grow and you will never know it all," says Jasmine.
Supporting women and minority groups at work
When Jasmine joined Viasat, her desire was to get involved and become active throughout the organization. As a member of Viasat Women in Technology Alliance, which is an Employee Resource Group that supports women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Jasmine is continuing her goal to collaborate with peers and leadership.
During strains of the current pandemic, and recent world events centered around racism and police brutality, Jasmine insisted on being part of the change to make the world a better place. Deliberations amongst other employees, they created and launched a Black Professional Alliance (BPA) at Viasat's Duluth campus a few weeks ago, with the goal of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The BPA's first meeting was a huge success! Jasmine is receiving feedback from others who also want to be involved. "BPA is not just providing opportunities for Black people, but we want to give an opportunity for everyone to have a sense of belonging within the organization."
Jasmine, like Viasat's Chief People Officer Melinda Kimbro, wants the company's renewed focus on diversity to last. "Speaking about race in the workplace can be uncomfortable sometimes," she says, "but cultural diversity and inclusion must be a round clock practice within our organization."
You know how people get homesick when they're away for a while? Well, Jasmine says she's getting "worksick" as she continues to work from home—she misses the face-to-face interaction with her teammates and coworkers. But for now, she'll continue to keep doing what she does best—striving ahead despite the constraints of an ongoing pandemic.
"Unexpected challenges may come, but I've learned to adapt and overcome all obstacles. Confidence and inspiration give me the motivation to keep striving for excellence to make any mission a success," she says. "I've always been taught with the proper application of time and effort…anything can be achieved"
You can learn more about careers at Viasat here.