ZS: How this senior professional stayed true to her goals
Career paths aren’t always a straight line. In fact, they can often take several turns. The path this senior administrative assistant at ZS took to where she is now is all her own, but she hopes her experience can help other Black professionals.
It’s clear that Kaylah Larocque’s helpful attitude and positive energy are just two of the hallmarks of her professional reputation. In fact, both of the professional recommendations on her LinkedIn profile mention her bright smile. We sat down with Larocque—who is currently a senior administrative assistant at consulting firm, ZS—to learn about how she got to where she is now, what allyship means to her, and how her prioritization of self-care has helped shape her career.
Kaylah Larocque - Senior Administrative Assistant at ZS
BYP: How did you get into your current role?
Larocque: My journey to this role had many twists and turns! I started off working for the NHS after my first year of college, and then I worked in retail part-time for years whilst I finished college and then university. I later moved into Administration and Front of House roles in hospitality that eventually led to multiple office and facilities management roles before I came to ZS. When I left my last job before ZS, I vowed that it was time I would pursue an Assistant role.. It wasn’t easy because I was being offered great office and facilities management jobs, but I stuck to my guns and got offered the Administrative Assistant role at ZS. I started in August 2018 and was promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant in the summer of 2020.
Choose to shift careers can be unnerving. Many professionals fear having to take steps backward or wondering if the change will actually pay off in the long run. While there are never any guarantees, Larocque has some advice that can help set the stage for success.
BYP: What advice would you give to our members who are considering a career change?
Larocque: Don’t let fear stop you from taking risks! If you know anyone who is currently in that role or previously has been, ask them if they’d have a chat with you about it. If you do get that opportunity, write down the questions you want to ask them. Remember not everyone has access to someone who can share their experience and wisdom with them. If you have an opportunity to shadow someone in that role or do a trial period, take it if you can. Listen to your gut, speak to those you trust to get a second opinion, save your money and make a plan. Just like we have savings for holidays, properties, and rainy days, have one for career changes too.
When deciding to change careers or transition to a new company, many Black professionals may be curious about the workplace experience for other Black colleagues. While working for a company that prioritizes inclusion and diversity like ZS can be great, it’s still a real possibility that Black professionals may encounter microaggressions or other similar experiences.
BYP: Have you ever encountered microaggressions? What advice would you give concerning Black professionals who deal with microaggressions in their workspaces?
Larocque: Yes, unfortunately. It’s one of the most exhausting experiences you can go through and people who do not experience these things aren’t always understanding and sympathetic when it happens. We often feel like we can’t speak up about things because we are often made out to not be a victim of someone else’s behavior, penalized and/or targeted after voicing it. My mum taught me to always write down exactly what happened in an incident, especially if you plan on addressing it with the person, management or HR later. We often feel like we can’t speak up, [but you should] tell someone you trust about the incident, and think about what you want to do next. Report it to HR so it’s on record. If there’s a team dedicated to equality in your workplace, see if you can report this (anonymously or not) to them as this can then be a teachable moment for staff. I’m no longer afraid to ask the person what they mean by their comment or tell them why that comment is not ok. Protecting ourselves in the workplace is also about protecting our peace of mind.
BYP: What are some of the ways people can illustrate their allyship concerning Diversity & Inclusion?
Larocque: Listen, educate yourself and be willing to unlearn problematic beliefs and behaviors. Allow yourself to be led instead of trying to lead in Diversity & Inclusion spaces. It’s very irksome to expect Black people to educate you all the time and expect that all we want is you to not be racist. Understanding what you are choosing to be a part of and actively doing better is what matters. Don’t be idle when there’s no Black people around to see your behavior and actions. Educating others and calling out those around you is also very important. Choosing to let people get away with racism, prejudice, and discrimination because it doesn’t directly affect you goes against everything an ally should be. If you’re an ally, be one regardless [if there are Black people around or not].
BYP: And finally, how do you invest in yourself to continuously improve your craft?
Larocque: The opportunities I’ve had before ZS and at ZS are because I’m always looking to be better at what I do or try things that I’m interested in. I love to learn from others who are more advanced than me, and I’m not afraid to say I don’t know something which is so important in your career.
Outside of that, self-care is my number one priority. I am diligent but sometimes it’s easy to end up pouring from an empty cup. From therapy to creating a working environment that’s healthy for me, I invest in my wellbeing.
To learn more about ZS or to apply for their upcoming roles, please visit their BYP jobs board here.