Cielito Merriam, Global Client Solutions Director in Longwood, Florida, calls herself a “lifelong learner,” and credits that outlook with helping her attain her goals. The key to being a lifelong learner is to also be a lifelong listener. If you’re able to really listen, you can focus on objectives and not be paralyzed by the status quo.
Working her way up in the BPO industry, she started out as an agent and then was a team manager and an operations manager. She also worked as a trainer and in performance engineering before she moved into client solutions. Each new opportunity was a result of learning as much as she could in every role, and then pursuing the next challenge. Read her full Q&A below:
Q: How have mentors made a difference in your career?
A: My first office job was during college and involved filing papers. My boss was the comptroller, and he went above and beyond teaching me about the business, which reinforced my hunger for lifelong learning. I ended up leading their accounting team! Since then, he has been a source of inspiration in mentoring my own teams. Whether someone reports to me or I work with them, I want to be a positive influence in their lives and in their careers.
Q: Looking back, did you see yourself reaching a director role?
A: Yes, I did see myself in this role. I always had a path forward, but I think in life, your priorities change as you grow. When my daughter was 3, I decided to leave the workforce for a year and a half. I did it for her, and what I gained was tremendous. That time away improved me in many ways–my patience grew, my perspectives widened, my leadership and listening skills improved, and my priorities about life changed.
Q: As a leader, have you experienced a challenge that felt particular to being a woman? If so, how did you handle it, and what did you learn?
A: In my life and career, I’ve had to overcome the challenge of perspective whether it’s because I’m female, a minority, my age, or all of the above. Respect is earned, and it can be earned pretty quickly. Know your business, use effective communication, and make fact-based recommendations. This all leads to credibility and respect.
Q: Would you change anything in your career trajectory? Why or why not?
A: I’ve made mistakes, I’ve suffered heartaches, I’ve fought hard and lost battles, but I can’t say I regret any of it. Every one of those things have been a learning experience, building character and tenacity. The fact that I have been in so many roles and have had the chance to look at the business from varied perspectives has been positive and has let me make better decisions.
Q: What excites you most about what you do at Alorica?
A: Technology is progressing to take over tedious activities that allow people to spend their time in areas that provide more value, and to think of solutions for the future. It’s exciting, and absolutely a challenge. What’s more enriching? Something that comes easily, or something that you have to work hard to achieve?