See It to Be It : Project Manager (w/ Kassandra Dasent)

On the twenty-fourth installment of our See It to Be It podcast series, Amy speaks with BridgeTech Enterprises CEO and founder Kassandra Dasent. Kassandra is a certified project management professional with 10+ years of experience in STEM-specific roles with leading conglomerates. She breaks down her job responsibilities as a technical project manager, stresses the importance of always continuing to learn, and more. Check out the show notes to click Kassandra’s links!

Struggling with your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work? Kanarys—a Black-founded company—has your back. Regardless of where you are on your DEI journey, we arm you with the insights you need now to take action now. From audits to assessments to data-informed strategy, we’d love to be the partner you have been looking for. Email stacey@kanarys.com or learn more at https://www.kanarys.com/employer

We all know the interview process can be fraught and full of bias. We’ve teamed up with SurveyMonkey to learn more about your experiences interviewing so we can make the entire process for BIPOC candidates. Share your thoughts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HLV9V5W And watch this space for the results!

Connect with Kassandra on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Check out the BridgeTech Enterprises website.

Click the links Kassandra mentioned during the show! They’re below:

https://www.projectmanagement.com

https://www.pmi.org

https://www.meetup.com/International-Society-of-Blacks-in-Project-Management/  

https://www.plutusfoundation.org

TRANSCRIPT

Amy: Kassandra Dasent is a certified project management professional and the founder and CEO of BridgeTech Enterprises. Leveraging her 10+ years of experience in STEM-specific roles with leading conglomerates, Kassandra is focused on executing project mandates and assisting companies who are intent on helping their technical teams and project managers thrive in their careers and be at the forefront of the development and delivery of innovative products and solutions. Please welcome to the show Kassandra Dasent. Kassandra, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?

Kassandra: I’m well, Amy. How are you?

Amy: I’m doing great, thank you. Can you tell me what you do as a technical project manager?

Kassandra: I handle not only the organizational requirements of a project, meaning scheduling, resources, budgets, equipment and managing a project from start to finish, but as a technical project manager I often work with developers, engineers, who speak a different language, literally. So I am the hybrid project manager if you will, being able to disseminate requirements that are technical in nature to the business end users in a way and in a language that they will quickly be able to adapt and understand.

Amy: And do you focus your work on any particular industry or do you work across all industries?

Kassandra: I work primarily in the supply chain and STEM industries.

Amy: Okay, so how did you get involved in–first of all in project management, what was your path to this role?

Kassandra: Really interesting, because I don’t have a degree in computer sci. I actually didn’t graduate from university. I studied music and psychology. So how I ended up leapfrogging my way into a STEM career was I was working at a company many years ago, and I was working as a credit [analyst?] at the time. I was in finance. And I wanted to shift gears. I knew that the tech industry was well-paying, diverse opportunities, but I didn’t know quite how to unlock it, and fortunately a series of circumstances resulted in a position opening up at the company I was at, and it was for a technical position in EDI, which stands for Electronic Data Interchange, and nobody wanted it. Nobody wanted to go near it ’cause they didn’t understand it. Most people weren’t interested in a technical position, and I saw that if I was able to land it that could really open doors for me. So I talked with my director and she was like, “Okay, let’s try this.” I said, “Send me to a boot camp. Let’s start with that, and if I’m able to latch onto that and grasp that let’s just run with that.” And I was working in Canada at the time, in Montreal, so I attended a boot camp in [?] Ohio, and this was back in 2009, and I came back. I learned basically how to create mappings, you know, coding, develop an EDI subset, came back and just jumped into it, you know? It was sink or swim, and fortunately I was able to really make a good career out of that. And from there I started to manage implementations and projects for EDI as part of my role. So that’s how I fell into project management, so to speak, from 2009 onward, and I eventually became a certified project manager and [?] and I helped positions in engineering and software development [?].

Amy: I love this story because you are the exception to the rule, right? So data tells us that most men will apply to a role if they think they’ve got, you know, what, 50, 40%, and sometimes I’m thinking maybe not even 10%. Yeah, I joke that if men can read the job description and understand most of the words they’ll apply, right? I’m blown away by this, and I want to put a focus on this for anybody who’s listening – so you came to this role without a technical background, without a college degree in this field, and what you said was “I’ll give it a try. I can learn anything.” Basically “Put me in, coach,” and you got the opportunity.

Kassandra: Yeah. So it required getting someone to vouch for me, to stand with me, to be an advocate. That was extremely crucial. If I didn’t have my director going to bat for me as VP of the company I wouldn’t be here in my career 10+ years later thriving, right? So that was essential. The other ingredient is I was bold. I was bold enough to say, “This is what I want. Here’s what I’m willing to do in order to guarantee this result,” right? I was willing to put myself in a zone of complete discomfort in a world that I didn’t know, I had no bearings in, but I just had enough self-possessiveness to just say, “Let me try.” The worst is–what could happen, I just go back to finance? Okay, that’s really not the worst thing that could happen to me, right? But looking back now I’m like, “That is risky,” that is, for a woman, especially a woman of color, and I was the only woman of color in my company at that time. So I really in ways–I look back and [realize] I broke several barriers at once, you know?

Amy: You did. So you mentioned having an advocate and the role that that VP played for you. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started that relationship? There are folks, and I’m one of them or at least I have been in the past, where I would get very intimidated by people’s titles or by their stature in a company and I wouldn’t know how to approach those relationships. Can you just tell us a little bit about how you did that? Because laying the groundwork very early and building those relationships as you said can completely change the trajectory of where we’re headed in our careers.

Kassandra: I managed to do it by proving my worth through the quality of my work. So I let my work speak for itself. So they trusted me to perform. That’s really one of the key ingredients to start an honest relationship with a manager or a senior or someone at the executive level, demonstrate consistently that you are performing and, by extension, you care about the company because you are concerned about your personal output, right? You create that relationship. And also I was able to be comfortable in my successes as a finance person or as an EDI person, and that also gave me the confidence to sometimes question decisions, but obviously in a way that was respectful and respectful of both of our positions. I never took it for granted that “Okay, I’m building this relationship with these people, but I respect where you’re at,” just as how because of the quality of my work they could respect where I’m at as well. So it’s shifted over time where, well, let’s be honest, you’re looking at it from an SVP and someone who was an individual performer, many people would look at that as very hierarchical, but when trust is built it starts to, like, invariably even out because you start to look at each other as people first before the titles. So that takes time, and it’s a cycle, but you have to prove yourself as a performer before they’re gonna be able to say, “Okay, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re talking about. Let me be more open to them with other ideas.”

Amy: Fantastic. So you mentioned that you focus a lot on supply chain, and I’m guessing–so for people who don’t understand what EDI is… well, you explain it, ’cause you’ll explain it better than I will.

Kassandra: Sure. In its simplest form it’s the way we transform information from one to another, from one entity to another. So for example, you go shop at Macy’s today. You buy your t-shirt. You come home and you’re happy. But have you ever stopped to think, “Well, how did that t-shirt make it to the store?” Right? So it’s as simple as one company, you know, the supplier, will say “Okay, I have 100 t-shirts available to sell to Macy’s.” Macy’s will say, “Okay, I’m gonna buy that 100 t-shirts, so I’m gonna submit a purchase order to the other company to say I want that inventory,” then the other company will respond electronically by saying “We can confirm your 100 t-shirts. Here is a shipping notification to let you know the product has left our DC shipping to your DC,” you know, so on and so forth, all the way down to invoicing, and EDI, it affects every aspect of our life, from health care to technology to retail. Every type of business runs with EDI.

Amy: So it’s how businesses talk to each other when they transact business.

Kassandra: Right, and EDI is in different forms. You can have it as XML. You can have it as API. There’s different languages, different ways of conveying data, but it’s done electronically.

Amy: Perfect. So when you went from finance to supply chain it was because you were proficient in EDI, which is sort of this universal language of how businesses work behind the scenes, right?

Kassandra: So fortunately the company I was working with, and I can name them, Oakley, I had worked with them for almost 11 years, and they are not only a manufacturer but they’re also a supplier. So they run the entire spectrum of what we call supply chain, right? So that’s where I started my EDI career, and then I moved onto EDI in insurance for a little while, then I completely stepped up and became a software engineer level three and software project manager on a software development team for the last, like, three or four years.

Amy: That’s great. So what surprised you about this work that you did not anticipate when you said, “Send me to class and I’ll figure this out”?

Kassandra: Wow. So much, but that it’s continuous learning. It’s a field that you can’t just sit on your laurels, and if you’re going for your certification and you get your PMP or your CSM or whatever designation that you go for as a project manager that you should just sit back and say, “Okay, I’ve done it. I’ve reached the peak.” Because our world is constantly shifting and innovating and it’s faster than almost the speed of light, it’s our responsibility to keep up with new trends, to be able to manage projects more quickly, to be more adept, more agile, more technically-focused. So there’s continuous learning that has to happen, and from the beginning I had the misconception that it was, like, a one and done type thing. “I’ve learned the fundamentals. I should be good.” No, because we’re constantly changing in the business world. So that was a huge shift that I picked up fortunately pretty quickly. I realized that “Okay, if I want to stay committed in this career, I have to commit to learning continuously,” and that’s something that I do to this day. Another thing was how few of us there are still, and I mean by few of us meaning people of color, Blacks, browns. Like I said, more often than I’m not I’m usually the first or the few of in a department, you know? At my last job before my present one I was the only lead software engineer, female of color, across the country in, like, software development for that company. And when I realized that, I had to take a deep breath and say, “Okay, this is why it’s hard,” you know? This is why negotiating relationships with people is harder than it should be and harder than it feels, you know? So there’s still a long ways to go in every aspect of our culture and society, but in project management–the beauty of project management is that there are almost I think a million professionals around the world. There’s a lot of us. That’s also something I didn’t realize, you know, that there’s a huge community worldwide. So maybe in my company I might be the only one, but I’m not in the grand scheme of the world, and through professional memberships I’ve come to connect with other members who look like me and have gone through similar journeys. Like, for example, the chapter of PMI in the Caribbean is hosted in my home country of Trinidad, you know? So you live and learn, but there’s definitely challenges I still confront on a daily basis, and it’s mainly due to human interaction, not necessarily from a professional standpoint.

Amy: Yeah. I think most of us would say that people are the most difficult part of our job in some way or another, but I can’t imagine how exacerbated that is when you’re the only or one of very few in an entire company. So you mentioned PMI. So how did you get involved with that organization? Is that something that you organically found? How did you find them?

Kassandra: I’ve been a member since 2015, and I did a search online–’cause I realized, like, there has to be a greater community that supports, in terms of information, and I made a decision that I wanted to pursue certification. So I went online, and it’s a wealth of information. It’s one of the most robust sites I’ve seen period, and they host annual conferences and also, like, smaller events to not only help you qualify for certification, because as a project manager once you pass that exam, which many consider the second-hardest exam after the bar, in order to keep that certification you have to earn 60 PDUs, which are professional development units, and you’ve got three years to earn that. So it’s a cyclical three-year period. So that site really not only provides reading material, there is a podcast that they offer. It’s a great wealth of information. There’s another sister site called projectmanagement.com that offers free webinars to those who are members and those who are not. So if anybody is looking to pursue a career in project management and is considering certification, those two sites are the premiere sites that you would want to visit and get a good grasp on what they’re doing for the project management community at large.

Amy: And do you attend local meetings as well to find community or is it more of an online relationship with other people?

Kassandra: Oh, absolutely. There are chapters in every state and in several cities in every state. In Jacksonville we have one of the larger chapter members. I think we’re over 1,000 members in Jacksonville. So you definitely want to join the local communities because it’s not only for networking opportunities. You could potentially get your next job, you know, connecting with that person who’s working at your top five dream company and find your way into your next career or your next job, and there’s a lot of interns that pass through that you might become mentors too. The senior project managers may mentor juniors as well, especially if you’re studying for the exam. They hold a lot of local study groups to help you prepare adequately to pass that exam, because as I said it’s difficult.

Amy: It is. There’s so much to it.

Kassandra: There is, but now they’re changing it. They’re coming out with a new edition.

Amy: Very good, and I love that they have you–the continuing education component of that I think ties back into what you said about what surprised you about the work, and I love that they’ve codified that and said, “Look, as a standard of professionalism you have to keep learning, ’cause everything is gonna change.”

Kassandra: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a great system. I think in terms of associations and membership, it’s one of the premiere ones that exist in the world.

Amy: So can you tell us just a little bit about if someone’s thinking about project management as a career, what are the characteristics or the traits or the knowledge that would be a good foundation for someone to have if they’re wanting to explore this work?

Kassandra: So one of the things I often tell people when they ask me that is you want to approach it in a very holistic manner. So it’s not only important for the individual to be organized and to be detailed and, you know, keep people and events on track. It’s about being willing to stretch yourself from a technical aspect. You know, you may not necessarily be strong from a technical aspect, but in order to be able to communicate with all of the members of your team–you don’t need to learn how to code, but you do need to understand the way they approach their work so that respect is gained, right, so that you have a better relationship and it’s easier for you to, say, ask a team member to work an extra 2 hours because you’re behind on a certain task, right? On the other hand, emotional intelligence is absolutely a crucial skill as a project manager. To first be self-aware, to understand what is going on with you, what skills or attitudes or aptitudes you may be lacking and that you’re willing to correct that in benefit of your career and the success of projects, and then on the other side is [?] and acknowledge when your team members or stakeholders are pressuring you, understanding that it’s often not you. They’re dealing with other issues that are just exacerbating their reactions to you. So being mindful and being wise enough to–we say in French [?], “to be able to discern what’s really happening as opposed to what the smoke screen is.” Understand that you’ll be dealing with people at all levels. You’ll be dealing–not only internally. You’ve got internal clients and external, right? So you’ve got to be someone who is willing to absorb a lot of other people’s energy and attitudes, and you’ve got to be strong because you’re going to be challenged a lot in this career. It’s wonderful because you get to deal with so many interesting projects. Sometimes you’re at the forefront of innovation. I’ve been fortunate, especially in the software world and even health care, the types of [projects that are taken on] are amazing, you know? Actually across every industry. So there’s a lot of room to grow, a lot of variety, but I won’t lie and say there isn’t stress, and it’s a career that you need to be able to manage that very well.

Amy: It sounds like you have to lead more through influence than authority in this role.

Kassandra: Absolutely. In the agile world that’s called servant leadership. So you’re there to serve. You’re making yourself available to others and trying to meet their needs so that the overall needs of the project are met. So it’s not about you first and foremost, it’s about the wellness and the well-being of everybody that’s implicated in this mission or this project.

Amy: And I would imagine that being an inclusive leader is very important in this space because you are dealing with so many different learning styles, work styles, personality types, people from different educational backgrounds, different demographic backgrounds, stakeholders with wildly different needs, assumptions, motivations–

Kassandra: Yeah. One person’s priority is not the other person’s. Yes, you’re doing competing interests, and it’s something that, as I said before, if you don’t have the mental fortitude to understand that–it’s a lot of emotional psychology that you’re dealing with without realizing it, you know? The continuous learning part is not only from a project manager’s standpoint, not only the technical application of being a project manager, but also the human aspect of things, how to deal with human nature, and I also encourage people to read books or listen to podcasts that deal with mental well-being, psychology, leadership, all of the other [soft?] skills if you will to strengthen you as a project manager so that it helps you in your day-to-day interactions with the host and variety of people that you will come across. And like I said, some people are just difficult by nature. For whatever reason that is, whatever is kind of motivating them to behave that way, you’re not going to win over everyone, but the goal is to be respected at the end of the day. You want to ensure that, as a project manager, you are respected by your team, the stakeholders. They see and acknowledge that the quality of your work supercedes anything else they may think about you, and that’s what matters at the end of the day is that you should be respected in the role that you have.

Amy: So you were telling me an interesting story about how you’ve taken this work that you’ve grown into over your career and you’ve come full circle now back to the financial world with a client and a passion project. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kassandra: Sure. So I’ve been in the personal finance industry for 7+ years now, and what I mean by personal finance is, you know, teaching people as a certified education instructor, I have taught people not only how to, you know, look at budgeting and saving and spending, but really live life in a more holistically wealthy and healthy manner. So to not only look at money as just a currency by itself, but consider that your mental well-being is a form of currency. Your physical wellness is currency. Your spiritual wellness is a form of currency, and those combined will just help you make better financial decisions when you’re feeling better about your health and so forth. So how that now translates into project management is I also have a company called BridgeTech Enterprises, I’m the CEO, and so one of my clients is a non-profit foundation by the name of the Plutus Foundation, and they provide literacy education to all communities, but especially underserved ones, and they also celebrate those who are in the personal financial space and financial media for the work that they’re doing with their communities. So it’s a pleasure to be able to gift my skills and my aptitudes as a project manager to help others in the space that I also live in. So it really did come full circle, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

Amy: And you mentioned inter-generational wealth as a big issue that you’re concerned about, especially in communities of color, so can you talk just a little bit about that and what that means?

Kassandra: So from one lens I can talk about it as those of us who are in corporate, those of us who have salaries, are earning income, what can we do to better make sure of the money that flows into our lives? So I come from a single-parent home, and I’m a double immigrant. I was born in Trinidad, I was raised in Montreal, and then I moved to the U.S. later in life, and we struggled for a really long time because it was a very low-income household, and from looking back on that experience I knew that I didn’t want to end up that way when I was in my 60s, you know, worried about money or having a lower pension, so I made a commitment to changing my family fortunes, if you will, and hopefully leading enough legacy to pass on to my stepson or whoever that they can also continue that generational wealth. That’s one aspect, right? So I have to be mindful of the money that I’m making today because it can significantly impact my family, not only tomorrow but for years to come. So that’s a responsibility that I have taken to heart. Then there’s the other aspect where, you know, for those of us who are entrepreneurs, small business owners, you know, we have an opportunity to change the financial situation–there’s several articles that say, you know, the wealth of Black people will be essentially $0 by 2052, right? Even if that’s not necessarily the case, let’s be realistic that the huge gap in wealth that exists today is unimaginable, you know? We have over 400 years of catch-up to make, and we need everybody on deck to say “How can we do better with our money so that Black culture and the Black race, so to speak, becomes wealthy, can run multi-billion dollar corporations,” and it becomes the norm for us. We’re not a one-off. We’re not just the Robert Smith or an Oprah. We need more of us to become billionaires, because on that level we can enact severe and massive change in the way that we live so that, around the world, we’re all benefiting from wealth.

Amy: There’s also, in the Black community, this notion of almost–I don’t know what the right term is, but almost reverse generational wealth flow, right? Where if you’re the first one in your family to make it, now you feel an obligation to support your mom, your aunties, your uncles, your grandparents, so it makes it even harder then to build wealth for the future, right, for your children and grandchildren, because you’re now carrying–

Kassandra: Yeah, I call it the “golden child syndrome.” I don’t want it to be confused with the Black tax. A lot of people do that, and it’s not the Black tax. The Black tax to clarify is the effects of Black people systemically being oppressed through government policies, through corporate policies. So that’s a very separate issue which still affects us to this day. So what I call the “golden child syndrome” is exactly what you described, Amy, where there’s one child in the family–I’m a perfect example–that either has gone to college, the first to graduate from college, the first to make six figures, the first to be doing well financially, and there’s this expectation, you know, whether spoken or unspoken, that they are now responsible for puling the family up, okay? It happens a lot with Blacks, especially immigrants, and there’s so much emotional guilt wrapped up into that. I support my mother-in-law, and I support my mother to a large degree. They’re both elderly, right? I have a stepson. So sandwich generation. I’ve got pressures from both sides of the equation. So how do you deal with that, not only from an emotional perspective but from your pocketbook? Because is it to the point where you are now lacking because you are essentially helping to fund other people’s households? And yeah, you may be making six figures, but when you tally up the budget you’re not seeing very much of your paycheck at the end of it. So that also we need to start looking at, how to have conversations about money, to really establish boundaries, expectations. And they’re not easy conversations to have. Sometimes it gets so bad that you need to separate yourself from certain loved ones because the relationship because financially abusive. So there’s many different elements to this conversation, but I’m glad you brought it up because it is something that a lot of us do struggle with.

Amy: You know, the burden of that… and I don’t mean the word burden in a negative sense, right, just the emotional weight, the financial weight of that, the mental stress that would come with that is just–that’s just got to be huge. I’ve been in a situation–I didn’t grow up wealthy by any means, but my parents were middle-class. My mom did eventually graduate from college. She was a teacher for a number of years. I jokingly refer to the First National Bank of Mom & Dad because I know if, like, everything fell apart tomorrow, I would have something, someone, that I could borrow enough money to make it to next month, right? Like, that’s a privilege that I have, that I recognize, and to think that that’s not a shared experience in every culture, much less every family, is–and I don’t mean to say this like, “Oh, my gosh, I come from such a privileged background,” but in many ways I do, and I think it’s hard for–so for example for your white coworkers when you’re the only Black women in several hundred employees, right, and they’re like, “Well, why can’t you go out with us on Friday? We’re all gonna go out for a nice steak dinner on Friday to celebrate,” or another one I’ve heard is where your boss will say “Yeah, we need you to travel. Just put it on your credit card and we’ll reimburse you,” not realizing that not everybody is born into good credit and co-signers and backstops and any kind of–I mean, I didn’t have a tremendous amount of financial literacy when I became an adult, but I had enough cushion to figure it out, right, because I had people I could rely on. The point I’m trying to make is I think a lot of white co-workers will make erroneous assumptions and not realize they’re doing it about the financial freedom that comes with having a good-paying job not realizing that that’s not financial freedom for everybody. Now you’ve just got three generations worth of obligation.

Kassandra: Absolutely. Most of them really do not understand the playing field is not level. Even if you and I, you know, you’re a white person and I’m not, we’re both earning $100,000, you have no idea where that money is going for me at home because first of all do we really connect with our co-workers on that level that we can have those private conversations so that you know that “Okay, she not only has to take care of herself, she’s got a husband, she’s got a son, she’s got two aging mothers, one lives in another country.” So where is vacation time where you can go and sit on a beach for a week at a 5-star resort? My vacation time is spent every quarter schlepping back to Montreal to oversee my mother’s care. So it’s really about “Do we really know each other?” First and foremost, right? Do we really care to ask questions and say–if we’re talking about supporting elderly mothers for example, well, someone will say “Well, why don’t you just take their pension and put them in a home?” And I’m like, “Yo…” You know? That’s a loaded question, especially for people of color, because many of us were raised to say “We don’t put our elderly in a home,” you know? Although it may actually be the best thing for them, but that’s just a cultural shift that we need to have more conversations around where there’s a better understanding of we have very, very marked differences in how our money is spent. So it’s not just the assumption that people of color, oh, we’re just all about the flash, and we just want expensive things. No, for a lot of us it’s really about making sure we’re okay, making sure our family is okay, making sure–like you said, that’s a great example, assuming that I can pull out my platinum credit card and pay for corporate expenses and then wait four weeks and have to beg to be reimbursed. That’s an expectation that should not be placed on us period, but it is, you know? And it’s little micro-aggressions like this that they don’t understand can have such a ramification on us financially, and then no wonder we’re working with gaps, because you have these instances that replicate themselves in so many different ways so we’re always playing 10 steps back. It’s hard.

Amy: It is, and to add to that student loan debt, which if you didn’t have your parent’s means, you didn’t get the Mom & Dad scholarship to college–you know, I had student loan debt for years and years, and a lot of people I worked with didn’t understand that because they had come from families that were well off and, you know, half of my paycheck every week is going to pay student loans. “Why don’t you have this yet?” ‘Cause I’m paying for school. So it just multiplies.

Kassandra: It does. Immigrants that come to the country later in life, they have a shorter window of time to pay into social security. In order to get basic social security to get a decent check you need to work 35 years. Every year you didn’t work in those 35 years they count as 0, and that counts against the amount that’s calculated. What if you are not fortunate enough to have a white collar job, a professional job where you’re sitting in an office every day? You’re working hard labor. Whether you’re a housekeeper, a garbage pickup person, construction, your amount of time in the workforce is going to be shortened because of physical disabilities. The likelihood of you having to retire earlier is greater because of the physical stress that you’re putting on your body. Then again, you don’t have that amount of time to put in a 401K. Most Black people don’t have access to a 401K period. So again, another disadvantage that’s tied to a job, as opposed to in Canada you don’t need a job to open an RSP. You can just go to the bank and open one, which is the equivalent of a 401K. So it’s not tied to a job. It’s just tied to income in general. So as I said, it’s systemic. I consider it a Black tax in a way, because this is a disadvantage that’s systemically created.

Amy: Absolutely, and then if you have a disability you can only have so much money in savings before your disability benefits are cut. So when they say “Oh, have enough for an emergency, have six months of income in the bank,” if you have a disability and you’re relying on disability insurance to help support you, you can’t have that money saved legally or you lose your benefits, and that was something I didn’t realize for a long time. So the harder we work, physically the harder we work, the more likely that is to happen, and now you’ve taken any opportunity away for wealth. This is such a fascinating conversation, Kassandra. I could talk to you all day. So just real quick, to sum up, where do you recommend people go for more information – #1 about becoming a project manager, but #2 about securing their wealth for themselves and for future generations?

Kassandra: Sure. So I mentioned before two sites. One is called projectmanagement.com and the other one is pmi.org. If you are a person of color, I’ve started to kind of look up groups before I joined you today, and there’s one that I found. If anybody goes on MeetUp.com, there’s some great local resources and groups that are available to you. But if you happen to live in Atlanta, there’s one in particular that’s called the International Society of Black Project Managers, and they meet I think once a month or something like that. So if you’re fortunate enough to live in the Black mecca of the United States, you know, avail yourself of that community, because it’s so important to not only join communities for your professional development, but to be able to talk to people who are living similar experiences so that you just feel like you’re not alone in this. It’s really important. From a financial perspective, there’s so many awesome sites. For people of color who are doing amazing work, there’s Tanya Rapley. There’s Tiffany Oliche, who is called the Budgetnista. There’s Sandy Smith. She leads an online community called Elevate, which is a community of financial influencers that I’m a part of as well, and there’s a conference actually that’s happening in Washington, D.C., the second conference for that. Also ThePlutusFoundation.org. You will find a list of different financial influencers that you can connect with and see which one works for you. So the information is out there. Google is your best friend, but you can also visit my site if you want more information on that as well. It’s KassandraDasent.com, and my Twitter and Instagram handles are @KassandraDasent.

Amy: Excellent, I’ll make sure to put those in the show notes. Kassandra Dasent, thank you so much for this amazing conversation today. I feel like we covered 50 industries and 40 different jobs and solved so many of the world’s problems, so thank you so much.

Kassandra: Well, we got to the tip of the iceberg, but I really appreciated the time, and I hope this is helpful for any of your listeners.

Amy: Oh, I hope so too. Thank you.

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