Natasha's dad used to ask her why she was opening up their VCR—and whether she was planning on putting it back together.
"I loved breaking and fixing things around the house," Natasha explains. "I couldn't wait to see what was inside!"
Her dad, who was one of the first people in his family to pursue higher education, always encouraged her, says Natasha. So did her mom, who wanted to see Natasha and her two siblings pursue STEM careers and get the best education possible.
"I really owe [my success] to her," says Natasha. "My parents were so supportive of all the experiments I did, and all the things I broke."
Her parents may have encouraged her love of hands-on problem-solving, but Natasha was the one who turned it into a successful engineering career, and now to a role as the Head of Data at video game company Riot Games. We sat down with her to hear more about that journey, as well as what advice she has for people like her who don't consider themselves big gamers, but who are interested in solving complicated problems with and for a passionate, talented community.
Natasha did her undergraduate degree in India, near where she's from, and she knew she wanted to go somewhere else for her master's.
"I wanted to go somewhere far but with a great program, and that was the U.S.," she says. "The independence you have here in terms of choosing your own curriculum, you don't have that in India."
She moved to L.A. not knowing anyone but an aunt's family, and has since built a full life of her own in California. And her siblings followed her example, too—her younger brother, who had sat with her for hours working on programming problems when they were young, ended up moving to Singapore, and her older sister now resides in Switzerland.
"Now my dad is like, 'Oh, you should totally not come back.' He's so proud and so excited that I'm here, that all his kids [have pursued opportunities abroad]. I used to call him and be like, 'What the hell? You're not missing me?! What is going on?'" says Natasha, laughing.
She made the most of her independence, though, and found fulfilling work as an engineer. "I loved that I got to experiment a whole lot, that I got to build things," she says.
Then a roadblock popped up: her manager asked her to take on a management role.
Solving People Puzzles
Natasha initially said no to the offer. But eventually her manager convinced her to give it a shot, even if just for a year. She signed up and immediately had one of the hardest years of her career.
"It was horrible," she remembers. "I was comfortable with being an engineer, so [as a manager] I was always one step back, still in that world [of being an engineer]."
But when her manager left, and then his manager left suddenly, too, Natasha found herself reporting directly to the CTO—and leaning into the challenge.
"If that hadn't happened, maybe I would've never really left engineering to give management a true investment from my side," she reflects. "But because it did, I knew I couldn't keep messing up. I had to grow up. I realized that I actually enjoyed aspects of management, especially how you can make an impact."
Eventually, some mid-level managers were hired, and Natasha got more coaching and mentoring versus just trial-by-fire experience. She realized that understanding the product, finance, and operations parts of an engineering business was just as vital as knowing how to code, and seeing the longer-term strategy of the business unfold allowed her to better manage her team and their own career goals.
"You start to position people so they can advance their careers. It's like putting a puzzle together, that same excitement. You feel really good when someone starts their career with you and then you help them grow, and when they leave, they're ready to own an entire org," she says. "That's when I feel successful."
Natasha was content with her scope of impact at her then-employer… but then she got an email from a Riot Games recruiter that she couldn't ignore.
Prioritizing Player Impact
"This might sound cheesy," starts Natasha, "but the email [the recruiter] wrote me was just so personal, so thoughtful, that it made me want to talk to him."
They talked, and though Natasha wasn't (and isn't) a big gamer, she loved what she learned about the problems Riot Games was trying to solve. As her interviews continued, she discussed issues like how to build a safe community and how to leverage data to create unique experiences, and she felt like she was being treated like a respected collaborator versus a candidate.
"I never felt like an outsider. All the amazing work, the people, how they kept me engaged throughout the entire process...at the end, I was like, 'Okay, I need to join this company,'" says Natasha.
She was particularly excited about her role as Head of Data because it came with a mandate to not just make a positive impact for her direct team, but to make a positive impact for the broader gaming community, including the millions of people who play Riot's games.
"I was really pleasantly surprised when I joined Riot to see how they think through the holistic experience. It's not just that you go into the game, you play, and you come out," she says. "It's how do you go in? Who do you get matched with? How do we make sure people are not being toxic on the chat with you? That you're having a good experience? That we're providing good recommendations for you for things to buy or champions to consider?"
Natasha herself has played League, and is fascinated by gaming and the community around it, but she's quick to point out that it's not her strong suit. "I just don't have the hand-eye coordination to play all of those crazy games where you really need to be precise!" she explains. "I'm a casual gamer."
4 Tips for Adjusting to a New Industry
Natasha was happy to learn about the world of gaming—and she wasn't afraid to ask the questions necessary to do it.
"I needed to understand every part of the gaming industry, from how we publish to how we do our esports, to provide ideas or even think through the strategy of what we're going to do next," she says. "When I started, it felt overwhelming, but I leaned heavily on my team."
She has advice for other people who are interested in working in an industry like gaming, but might not know where to start:
- Recognize what you bring to the table. Gaming, just like any other industry, is made better when it's led by a diverse set of people. "If everyone's thinking the same way, you're never going to see your game differently. We want diverse opinions and different ways of seeing," she says.
- Know you're not alone in being new. "If you're open to learning, people are there to help you," says Natasha. "You're not going to feel alone. There are a lot of people going through that same journey."
- Engage with the broader community. Natasha says that at Riot, she has direct access to the player community, and that's really helped her build a sense of who they are doing their work for. "Usually when you talk to customers, you get all formal; there's a protocol," she says. "But here, directly interacting with the players is huge."
- Don't be afraid to propose new ideas. Riot Games has a strong culture of open-mindedness and transparency, says Natasha—so strong that she was shocked by the direct and tough questions people asked the company's leadership at her first all-hands meeting. But what she's learned from that example is that pushing the envelope is required to make real progress on long-term problems, and that starts with having the space to propose new ideas. "Take risks!" implores Natasha. "Our players are dreaming of a new thing every day. So listen to them and take risks because that makes [your ideas] better."
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.