H@H: Ep 48 – D’Juan Wilcher joins Ray Guan this week on Here@Haas. As the SVP, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Associated Bank, D’Juan is passionate about DEI and its evolution in the business world. A naval officer with extensive experience in the non-profit sector, D’Juan shares his advice on how people can make a difference in workplace equity no matter how big their company.
Lifelong learning in DEI – “I think it’s incredibly important that whoever wants to go into this space, they have to know that they will be on a continual journey themselves to learn… You have to have a deep sense of humility to know that you’re not going to be right.”
Why DEI is so important –“It’s an ethical and a moral imperative that we do this work and consider the humanity of the people we’re working for… It doesn’t make sense for there to be pools of talent where only certain people can have access to certain opportunities.”
The power of relationships – “The way that I do [my work in DEI] is through building substantive relationships. I spend time with people. I get vulnerable with them very quickly because I don’t know how much time I’ll have with someone. I want them to know I’m sincere and vulnerable and to get there with me so we can do this together.”
- 13th documentary (YouTube)
- Inclusive Leadership Institute, offered by Pneumos
- Diversity at Haas
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
[00:00:00] Ray: I’m Ray Guan. And this is here@haas, a student-run podcast of the Berkeley Haas community. Today, we’re joined by D’Juan Wilcher, head of Diversity Equity Inclusion at Associated Bank. Welcome to the podcast, Juan.
[00:00:16] D’Juan: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Ray.
[00:00:19] Ray: Why don’t you tell us where you’re from and your journey to the EMBA program at Haas?
[00:00:24] D’Juan: Sure. Sure. So, I appreciate the opportunity to be here and to do just that. I currently live in Chicago. And honestly, to have a couple of other name competitors in this space is interesting that I found my way to Haas, but the way that happened is because a Haasie, his name was Corey boat right, his wife and I, we were connected as presidential scholar is doing this whole thing. And he’d come. I met him, his wife had already spoken him up to say, Hey, you really need to meet my husband, Corey. He’s great.
[00:00:57] You should think about going to Haas. And I tell everyone, like, why would I do that? There are two schools that are right here in Chicago. That’s not something I’m thinking about. Corey, in all of his magnanimity, this guy just shows up with this big personality, super cheerful, super helpful.
[00:01:15] And he’s dude, just come one weekend. I was in the Bay October 19th of 2019. I literally took him up on his word. I flew out there. I sat in classes and I’m like, yeah, this is way better than sitting in the cold in October for classes. The sun is shining when I landed. I get three days of being with these people is intensive.
[00:01:37] I get three weeks off in between, et cetera, et cetera, top run program. And Oh, by the way, I’m a veteran and this is a public institution. So, there’s another benefit there. Yes, I’m in, time to apply.
[00:01:50] D’Juan: The energy is infectious. I’m challenged every day, these types of environments are few and far between where I’m okay with getting my book kicked every time I’m meeting with these people because I am. And I also think that’s a part of it, just leaning in, to grow. They’re challenging me to think more than just what the conventional business mind would think about. I’m proud to be.
[00:02:10] Ray: That’s something that we hear often from sometimes even like the brightest stars in their class mentioned that every week when they come to class, they are constantly being challenged by their classmates.
[00:02:21] You know, before we go further, I actually want to kinda go back a little bit with you prior to Haas. Tell us about your time in the military. Maybe you just tell us, like what led you to join the Navy?
[00:02:34] D’Juan: Sure. So, I am first generation college student. My father, I’m the oldest male and oldest son, my father, both my younger brothers, they decided to enlist in the military army and air force. All the other males in my family also served in various branches. I decided to go to college because I didn’t want to go to the military.
[00:02:54] And I was set to graduate in 2009. As we all know the global economy was not at its greatest a that point. I had three jobs lined and up all three were rescinded. Okay. This time I was a liberal arts major. I was majoring in Spanish, minoring in business. I thought I wanted to move to Europe and just start a business and just do my own thing.
[00:03:14] That didn’t happen. And so, I decided to take a victory lap and I stayed at school for a fifth year and someone came to me and said, Hey, man, I really think you should consider being a Navy officer. I did. I had no idea what that meant. Again, first generation college student, you only know what the people ahead of you know and what they can inform you about.
[00:03:36] Long story short, I applied. I was selected. And I have the opportunity to choose where I was going to serve and I chose Japan. So that is when I got my first international experience. I lived in to Japan for three years and it was an outstanding experience. And to me, that’s also one of those formative things that led me to be where I am today in terms of serving in advocacy roles and DEI. That experience informs how I feel and how I lead today.
[00:04:05] Ray: To me, that sounds very exciting, but at the same time, you just graduated college and you’re going to like a foreign country without any friends or family. You do have your fellow military members in the Navy. What were some of the challenges that you experienced out there?
[00:04:23] D’Juan: First of all, the reason I chose Japan just because my dad had the opportunity to go to Japan and be Haiti’s in the air force and he declined. And so, when I called him and I said, Hey, I’ve got San Diego or Japan, what do you think? And he said, well, son in the eighties, I declined going to Japan. I think this is a great opportunity for you.
[00:04:43] I didn’t go because I had, you know, my mom and dad had my sister at that time. So, he didn’t go because of my older sister is. You don’t have any kids or anything, you should go. That’s why I chose to go to Japan. Otherwise, San Diego was going to happen. I went right before Thanksgiving and that’s important because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
[00:05:00] Only for the food, not necessarily for the other things around it. So, I’d go, I’m on this flight. And I have to be descriptive because this is how I felt in the moment. When you bought the flight on JAL airlines, they give all the announcements of volcanoes and Japanese. So, there was already this sense of the change is brooding and I need to be ready for the adjustment, the differences, the moment I’m off the plane, everything’s in Japanese.
[00:05:28]. I can’t read Kanji. There are very few language linguistic cognates. So, I can’t like hear what they’re saying, I think I know what they’re saying. Culturally, they’re on the left side of the sidewalk and the road. And so, I’m bumping into people, not really understanding. Culturally, personal space is not really a thing.
[00:05:51] So like when I’m on the train, everyone’s like close to me and I feel very uncomfortable. And I miss Thanksgiving. So, I’m upset. Like all of these things we just boil to make me feel very upset about the decision I made. I was homesick for probably six months. After I decided to say stop feeling this way and figure out what you’re going to do with this.
[00:06:15] I decided to lean in to the discomfort. And that’s why I love Japan so much now is because I told myself, Hey, this is uncomfortable from the smarter way to make this your own experience. I leaned in, I traveled. At the time Apple phones, like the Apple maps, they really didn’t give you the kind of direction they do now.
[00:06:35] So I would do what’s called like a meetup and I would go to like random dinners and all parts of Japan and Tokyo specifically to just meet people. I don’t speak Japanese but I started to learn how to read body language much better. I started to be able to communicate and read communication through eyes, through smiles, through just the things that people really don’t pay attention to because we rely so much on our language ability. And so, I grew, I started to check my own biases. I started to realize what I could also contribute to the space and what people wanted to learn about me. And also, most importantly, I think, how much of a country ambassador I was. And that really stuck with me to think about how I carry myself if I’m the only American that you will encounter, this is all you’re going to get.
[00:07:23] So, your entire impression of an entire country could be based on a single interaction with me. And that really weighed heavily on me in a very positive way. And of note, in Japan is the first time I heard people call me American rather than giving me a descriptor or an adjective to say African-American or black American or something like that.
[00:07:45] So in Asia, all of my experiences were incredibly mind blowing. Anyway, I love Japan and that is my experience.
[00:07:55] Ray: I can echo what you say about the fact that when you only encounter a few people from one country, your entire mindset and like opinions of that country or of that culture can be shaped by those people. I did a masters out in Spain. One year we had 40 people in our class and we represented I think 28 or 29 countries. I was fortunate that there were a few other Americans joining me but we had one German girl. So, the perceptions we had of Germany were from her. It’s a ton of pressure to maybe even put on yourself but I’m glad that it worked out for you and that you took it up challenge instead of thinking of it as a burden.
[00:08:42] D’Juan: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s pretty much my framing of most of these things that come our way, especially this past year.
[00:08:48] Ray: Yes. So, pivoting to that I guess, what led you to the executive program versus some of the others you’re looking at?
[00:08:56] D’Juan: What led me to focus on the executive program is that number one, I aged into the program. Like I was old enough. I have enough experience now to say, Hey, I might qualify for this. Give me a shot. So that’s number one. Number two, the smaller cohort. I think that being in a lockstep type cohort really is good for me because I’m really big on building substantive relationship.
[00:09:23] Obviously that can happen when you have the one-off interactions. For example, you’re an evening weekends but the reality is now I know you, you’re not going anywhere now. I’ve got you, you know? Uh, so that that’s cool. But Ranjenee differently. I get to engage with her every three weeks,
[00:09:39] And that’s, for me, that means that now this is my friend. I can reach out to her. She can reach out to me and medic space or like the other 70 people who are in our cohort. And that’s pretty similar throughout the other executive programs at the other top schools as well that we are all in lockstep and we get to do that thing together.
[00:09:58] Ray: Yeah. And just to give you some perspective, our evening weekend cohorts are actually roughly around the same size. I know you mentioned substantive relationships a couple of times there.
[00:10:10] D’Juan: I mentioned just a bit ago about how substance of relationships really means a lot to me. What I didn’t realize though was how beneficial that that skillset can be building substantive. Relationships can be in leadership and driving change. One thing that I’ve learned is that the work that I’ve done in the Navy, the work that I’ve done in nonprofit, all external stakeholder relationship building. It really has been about how I can relate to people and see things from their perspective. And in some cases, hope to change or influence their perspective on things.
[00:10:46] I grew up in Gary, Indiana. Gary, Indiana now and at least throughout my whole life was more than 95, 90% black residents. I went to a high school that was 99% black, very West side. Transferred going into my junior year to high school that was 99% white
[00:11:05] And the reason why that is, is some historical great white flight issues in the 1950s, irrelevant. But what I did learn was the importance of assimilation. And when then when I learned also beyond that is also the embarrassment of assimilation.
[00:11:25] This is something I’m still working through is how do I assimilate to a dominant culture without losing who I am as well. I don’t want to so much to say that I can hang out with you without forgetting about who I came from. If I can, I would like to make an analog to Johnny Tsunami, only because my son just watched it today. As important to me, the movie is. He grew up surfing and then he had to learn how to snowboard, but then he has to figure out, does he want to ski or snowboard is you want to be a part of these guys or those guys? And then at the end he’s like, but we can all be together.
[00:12:00] The important part to take away from this is my relationships really helped me push through my own discomfort. And that same story was on repeat through college, going to a predominantly white institution through the Navy where there are very few black military officers in general and especially so in the Navy.
[00:12:17] And then in the veterans serving the veteran, serving organizations, nonprofit space, it’s the same thing for leadership potential, which is where I was at the Ispace. This is a particularly interesting place for me now because what I also want to ensure is that people don’t think that this role is about tokenism.
[00:12:38] This role is about impact. So, what we’ve seen is this proliferation of these roles since the civil unrest at 2020, but these roles have been existing for a few decades now, almost 30 years, people have been doing this work and maybe even more than 30 years. I’ve been doing this work and making substantial impact.
[00:12:56] But now you see our faces upfront. And I struggle with thinking, okay, if I am at an organization that is historically predominantly white male, how do I get them to understand that saying our, seeing the advancement of other people to include women, to include the LGBT community, to include people, individuals with disabilities, veterans, people of color, black and indigenous people of color. How do I find a way to get them to see that there’s a value in seeing the world through our lens and that this isn’t either a zero sum game or a political game? And the way that I do that is through building substantive relationships.
[00:13:38] I spend time with people. I get vulnerable with him very quickly, because I don’t know how much time I’ll have with someone. So, I will jump on the deep end with you quickly. So, I don’t know how much time I’ll have. So, I want you to know, I want them to I’m sincere and vulnerable and get there with me so we can do this together.
[00:13:54] Ray: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that with us. And that’s one thing that that’s one thing that Haas does a good job of with the DEI is ensuring that we receive the education and the resources to learn about each other.
[00:14:07] Because it’s hard to understand someone else’s point of view if you really don’t know much about them. And I think Haas through some of the emails that we get on a weekly basis provides us resources to learn about the history of African-Americans in America, the history of, you know, Asians in America and some of the differences on, you know, how different ethnics groups migrated to America. So, you know, I appreciate you sharing that.
[00:14:37] Ray: Was there a moment or experience that you had in the military that drove you to DEI work or was it more of a culmination of experiences?
[00:14:47] D’Juan: It was a culmination of experiences, but I can call out one in particular. So, I had a colleague, a shipmate as we call them in the Navy. He was, what you would assume to be, the stereotypical guy, right?
[00:15:02] And he was handsome. So, I was assuming that, Oh, he gets all the girls, assumptive and my part as well. Also, something that I’ve learned not to do because of those experiences. And one day we’re talking and he’s like, Oh, yeah, man. I’m gay and he whispers it to me and I was like, Oh, okay. Why did you whisper?
[00:15:21] He was like, man, it’s just, it’s not accepted, it’s not a thing. It had just been repealed a few years before don’t ask don’t tell where people can be whoever they want to be essentially. But he still felt like he couldn’t be that person, at least outwardly. Now he is like he and his husband are married.
[00:15:39] They have pictures all the time. It’s great. But I would say that his concern with how he wanted to be, how do you want it to be a vocal with the way that he lived concerned me. I think it’s an issue of fairness. I think it’s an issue of equity, right?
[00:15:57] Sure, he’s a high-performing Naval officer and he’s going to continue to ascend the ranks. But even now, right now, I feel that potentially might affect him at some point, because you’ve got a lot of work to do the military government officials. We got a lot of work to do to ensure that people who don’t look like you, who don’t act like you or live like you can still have equitable access to achieve the highest places in the military or in government.
[00:16:25] And I think that was probably one of the most formative periods of that just because he was open with me and I never thought that it really mattered. But the way that he was very hum about it made me think twice about that. And I think it pushed me a little bit to be concerned about equity in the workplace.
[00:16:43] Ray: Yeah. In your example, you highlight, you know, someone who’s gay, but we see in the workforce discrimination against all sorts of minority groups. But that’s really why we have like the E in DEI, right?
[00:16:57] Like the equity which something that I learned in this past year doesn’t mean treating everyone equally, it means giving, people bringing them up from where they’re at to an equal level with everyone else. Because if you treat everyone equally, if you just give let’s just say everyone, like $200 each there’s still going to be a big, wealth gap.
[00:17:16] Right. Um, more on that front though, I mean, now you are head of the DEI at associated bank. And it seems to me that historically DEI has been more of a voluntary initiative within companies, especially like large corporations, but maybe in the last 15, 10, even 5 years, we’ve seen this to be a more formal issue.
[00:17:41] There are now laws around diversity on some executive boards. I know the NASDAQ has made it a point to make sure that companies have at least one minority member on the board or else they will basically do not list your company. Why do you think there seems to be such an explosion of these roles in the last, couple of years or so?
[00:18:04] D’Juan: Well, because there should be, that’s a short answer. From the business perspective, it makes sense. And pair up with data from many sources have already determined that diverse workforces produce more or whatever it is you’re producing, whatever industry it that data is industry agnostic. So, from a business perspective, you should. I look at it through a lens of a moral and ethical imperative and that it doesn’t make sense for there to be pools of talent where only certain people can have access to certain opportunities. And more over from my perspective, because I’m generally very full-throated about these issues, if someone were to say there’s just not enough of the black talent. That’s untrue. And at the end of the day, I think that the efforts to go and find that talent. That’s not even hard. It really boils down to policy a lot of times. And that was shown to me through the Navy. I was a Navy recruiter for a period of years and I was focused on Northwest Indiana, which is a little different and they were asking, seniors were asking me, Hey why can’t we get more and more black applicants, a more diverse applicants.
[00:19:44] I intentionally don’t use the word minority because I don’t want to introduce a group of people as lesser than because that’s what the term does, but why can’t we get more diverse populations? And I asked the question, I shot a note to a friend of mine who graduated from the Naval Academy. I said, Hey, if you graduated from the Naval Academy with a 2.5, what happens?
[00:20:05] And my friend tells me, you become a Naval officer. Great! But if I’m recruiting in Northwest Indiana amongst kids who may have had first-generation college come from that area, first generation college students, they don’t have the kind of infrastructure set up for them to get the 3.5 GPA.
[00:20:26] They don’t, they’re not selected. They’re immediately kicked out of that selection pipeline. That’s a policy issue to say, if you want to recruit at his area, they have to have a 3.5. But if you’re in enable Naval Academy, which is a traditionally, a traditional institution of affluence and so why is it that if you’re going there, you can graduate with a 2.5 would come and they will officer.
[00:20:49] But if I’ve got a 2.8 first-generation college student and he’s scrappy, or he or she is scrappy as hell and they know that they want to serve their country and they definitely have leadership potential because they’ve done all these things, why are they an automatic no? I use that as an analog to say policy issues really drive this divide of equity. And that’s where I come in. You mentioned a second ago about, I don’t want to misstate what you said, but essentially, I heard you say that the DEI officers were officers without much teeth, essentially, like they were there for show, they were there for, to placate stakeholders or whatever. I don’t know if that was actually true. Historically. I do know though that there are some who, unfortunately, aren’t aligned in a power structure where they can make effective change. What I did coming into this role is I really did a lot of vetting. I tried to figure out what their history looks like and try to figure out what their leadership looks like, where they come from.
[00:22:02] And I don’t mean that geographically, but what I could surmise from their social media profiles and all the what do they think about, how do I think? A couple of things I walked away with one check your biases. Because I imputed my own perceptions onto them before I gave them an opportunity to share with me where they are. Don’t do that. That’s a big no-no. And too, frankly, I think, is someone willing to pull back the layers of data and numbers and rather than saying, cause the numbers really show you diversity, but you spoke to it. And I absolutely agree that the equity piece is where you really get advancement. Someone willing to do the work to do that part. And that’s really the hard part. That’s the relationship building part. That’s the part where I have to help other people understand that the fact that we are leveling the playing field doesn’t mean that I’m taking away from you to give to them.
[00:22:59] It’s rather that one to give everyone that equal opportunity to reach the same goal.
[00:23:04] Ray: Yeah. And I guess just to clarify, I think what I meant by just the whole DEI initiative, I think within companies you had traditional HR departments within companies that are really just there to handle and sometimes not even handle, but to just minimize the conflicts and obviously, really in the last 10 years or so, we’ve seen a lot of movement. We’ve seen HR become even more science-based to kind of eliminate or at least reduce some of the possible biases that are there. But I want to actually touch upon one thing that you brought up, which is that a lot of these opportunities, these inequities are due to like policy. And that’s why we have the issue of systemic racism. It’s not because a lot of people like mistake this as Republicans or conservatives but I was watching this this documentary, I think called 13th and….
It’s a great documentary.
[00:24:04] Ray: Yeah. And I’ve mentioned that a lot of decisions were made by Democrats and Republicans alike, from the eighties maybe even before that, but definitely the eighties, the nineties and this is why I think there were much harsher penalties on cocaine versus crack. It might be the other way around. And that was mainly to punish, you know, like black people. We had last summer a panel of folks from the Black Business Students Association on to kind of elaborate on this point that the size of prisons were designed, one of our guests told us, based on the number of black students enrolled in third grade at like these elementary schools. And so, you know, these roots kinda run deep. And my point with that is the equity part of DEI is making sure that no matter what background you come from, whether it’s a racial inequality or an economic inequality to give these people, like you had said, equal opportunity.
[00:25:10] D’Juan: Yeah. So, that 13 was incredible documentary. And I won’t speak too much on it because it would, we could talk at length about that. Yeah, absolutely agree with you.
[00:25:22] D’Juan: I want it to be crystal clear that DEI work is not political work. Of late, we’ve seen people try to ascribe to, or associate liberalism with equity, with inclusion. And that’s not the case. Again, as a mission, it’s an ethical and a moral imperative that we do this work and consider the humanity of the people that we’re working for. The way that I consider leadership is people don’t work for me. I work with the people, right? Like we consider the humanity of the people that we’re looking to serve. That’s it. I get that we all have our own perspectives and we come from different places. But to say and to minimize the efforts, to ensure that someone who feels well, who’s dealt with gender dysphoria and at some point decides that they want to undergo a gender reassignment. It’s odd to me, even now that people get so spun up about something that really doesn’t affect with them.
[00:26:33] D’Juan: I just wanted to make sure that was crystal clear. The work is not political.
[00:26:37] Ray: Yeah, thanks for clearing that up. What advice do you have for people who are trying to encourage DEI at their own companies? Especially if like companies that are maybe smaller or medium size that don’t have an official DEI position or a team that works specifically to encourage this.
[00:26:58] D’Juan: So, I think a couple of things, number one, make database decisions. That seems easy to say, but you really have to know what questions you want to ask so that you can get the answers you need to make informed decisions. If you’re at a smaller organization, say if you’re in an organization of, I don’t know, 50 people.
[00:27:20] And that organization is a mom and pop shop. For example, it’s unlikely, or it may be more difficult for you to really have a significant impact on the diversity piece, meaning representation across all lines of intersection. So, gender race, all those things, but you can make significant strides in the equity piece. You can make significant strides in the inclusion piece. He’s are three legs of the stool and people lumped them together because it, DEI, it sounds cool as like offending, but they’re all three different pieces. So, on the equity piece, you can ensure that there’s pay parity something that’s pretty simple, but we know that’s not the reality in most places, small business or not.
[00:28:07] We know that pay parity is not a thing. You can make sure that you have inclusive practices for whether it’s people with handicap, like how do you ensure that individuals who have disabilities have access to do the same things that the people who you don’t, for example if you work at a job and you want to ensure that all your employees can, get to work and all these things, but you have an employee who’s in a wheelchair.
[00:28:36] Being in a wheelchair is not a death sentence. I know plenty of people in wheelchairs who are way more fit than I am. They are stronger. And so again, putting your own biases on the others and making these assumptions are just aren’t good things to do. So, if you’re at a small organization put a lot of effort into the equity and inclusion piece and create an open workspace where people can actually communicate freely. If you had a larger place, you got to do all three. If you have a publicly traded place, there are some other taxes that he, that you can use really have to make sure that your leadership is on board there. And I think Mellody Hobson. She was, she really did a great job last year when she became a board member of Starbucks, I believe.
[00:29:20] And she made a splash by saying, Hey, executive compensation is going to be tied to our DEI efforts. On its face, that means that there’s going to be some effort going forward, but we don’t know what the teeth look like underneath that statement. Are we saying that we just have to increase the numbers of diversity or does this mean throughout the workforce?
[00:29:42] It will be representative of, whatever you’re trying to just mirror it. But that’s what I would say. It depends on the size of the company that you’re in that would dictate what are your approach and also making database decisions.
[00:29:54] Ray: No, that’s a good point. And it sounds like no matter the size of the company or the scope, publicly traded, privately held you as in the DEI department, but you even as an individual can also contribute to DEI in your own way.
[00:30:12] D’Juan: One more thing I just thought about as you were talking, I want to make sure that this is my philosophy is to do this work as a team. My organization at associated were more than 4,000. I serve all of them. And at the end of the day, everything time, I meet someone I want to remind them that we are doing this as a team.
[00:30:33] If you’re looking at me and my team to be responsible for all the change, that’s going to reflect what we want. We will not be successful. This effort can only be accomplished with critical mass, meaning the majority of an organization.
[00:30:48] Ray: So, it sounds like DEI from what you’re saying is obviously going to be a group effort, so then going from team to maybe individuals because right now we’re in a pandemic. A lot of us are virtually together, but maybe apart in our own rooms, what can individuals do to contribute towards DEI? Even if it’s not on a professional level.
[00:31:12] D’Juan: If that individual does not already have a strong sense of building relationships, that will probably be top of line. Understand how to build relationships. but the kind that matter the time where people are willing to concede something to you and to trade something else, those types of relationships will pay dividends.
[00:31:35] I think it’s an incredibly important that whoever wants to go into this space, they have to know that they will be on a continual journey themselves to learn. I have been I would say at a novice, I’ve been a spectator for years of DEI. This is my first formal opportunity to serve in this capacity. And I have not put down a book, learning more about what this means, and this is more than just trends.
[00:32:07] But also reading books that don’t necessarily speak to who I am as a person, I have to read books to understand how do other people see the world such as I can communicate with them. You have to have a deep sense of humility to know that you’re not going to be right. And even if you are right based on facts alone, you have to be willing to say the truth. Like even if you present someone with facts, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to see you as right. I don’t know the psychological term for it. I wish I did. But knowing that, that is the case it’s incredibly important that you just recognize that.
[00:32:44] So I would say humility, relationship building, and just being as we would say, a student always.
[00:32:52] Ray: Yeah, that’s great advice. And I would say, if you do come in with that type of mindset, it also helps in eliminating some pre assumed biases that you may have of people that you know is probably not healthy to carry going forward. Cool. Are you ready for the lightning round one?
[00:33:11] D’Juan: Let’s do it. Let’s do it.
[00:33:13] Ray: Typically, we ask our guests a book or podcast rec, but earlier you brought up a TV series. So, I’m actually going to ask you what’s a TV series that you’ve watched during this extended shelter in place.
[00:33:30] D’Juan: Oh, man, I’ve watched way too much TV. Okay. Lovecraft Country I watched that was like probably my 2020 most favorite in a weird way.
[00:33:44] Ray: What is that about?
D’Juan: It is about, c’mon Ray, what a tough question. What is Lovecraft about? It’s a mix of like sci-fi and historical references to 1950 Chicago where racial issues co-hiding, I don’t know, I can’t tell you what it’s about but I can tell you that if you get past the first 20 minutes it is pretty dramatic.
[00:34:15] It’s good. After that Lupa, I’m all in on that. I love that. And I watched a lot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That’s a real big throwback classic beast on HBO. And I just been watching a lot of that too.
[00:34:32] Ray: Nice. What’s a habit that you picked up during the pandemic, a new habit?
[00:34:39] D’Juan: I become a runner. So, I bought a treadmill and before I bought a treadmill and it was nice outside, I would run. I was running maybe 12 miles a week and I don’t like treadmill runs, but it’s too cold outside. So now we have a treadmill and I am running and I’m kind of enjoying it. So, I know we run a lot in the military and I’ve never run more than three miles at a time ever.
[00:35:10] 3.1 miles, I’ve done a 5k. Uh, I ran five miles and I felt damn proud of myself. Like, man, I finished the run and I felt good. I didn’t feel like, Oh, my gosh, when I passed out, it just felt like, wow, this was great. So, I picked up running. Okay,
[00:35:28] Ray: But I guess on the treadmill versus the icy streets of Chicago, understandable. Awesome. And then what is your favorite class that you’ve had so far at Haas?
[00:35:39] D’Juan: Right now? I’m really enjoying strategy.
[00:35:43] Ray: Do you have LeBlanc? I do. He was our teacher as well. Yep.
[00:35:49] D’Juan: He’s a tough one, right. To kind of guess. He makes you read a ton, which at the same time of just pivoting into a new role, reading a ton makes things difficult in its own way, but I really appreciate the way he challenges the thoughts.
[00:36:05] And honestly, you think you get where he’s going and he’ll literally pivot on you. And you’re like, wow. Okay, well maybe I should think about, that’s probably my favorite class. Before I came to Haas, I knew that I wanted to. Unfortunately, as embryos, we can’t like officially declare our concentrations, but I’ve unofficially declared.
[00:36:27] Mine has equity, fluent leadership and strategy. And I’m a part of the IOI, which is a leadership Institute for inclusion, leadership Institute, a co-curricular pursuit. And then GLB is my first strategy course. Like I did the right thing. This is, this is why I’m going to stay. I’m going to do this.
[00:36:49] I’m going to be a strategist. I’m going to be a, you know, a leader who cares about equity. Like that’s what I want. Yeah.
[00:36:59] Ray: Yeah. And I guess just to wrap this interview up, what advice would you have? Well, let’s say you became the Corey to someone else who was interested about Haas. What would you tell them?
[00:37:13] D’Juan: I would tell them to lean in and be curious about other opportunities.
[00:37:18] I think in my experience, the people that I surrounded myself by, they were very big on chasing the ivy. And I wasn’t really big on that. I just wanted to make sure that I was a part of a good institution. And so, I would tell them to lean in big on culture and fit. I think there’s nothing more important than that.
[00:37:40] I’ve visited a few other institutions and I just didn’t feel that it was for me. If I hadn’t gone there would I had gotten a great education. Absolutely. But I guarantee you, I probably wouldn’t have been doing all these extra things. Co-curricular pursuits, for example, I wouldn’t do all of that stuff because I wouldn’t feel like it’s mine, but Haas like it’s mine. And so I would tell them to lean in and big on culture.
[00:38:08] Ray: Amazing. And you are a shining example of that D”Juan. Thank you for coming on the podcast today.
[00:38:15] D’Juan: All right, man. I appreciate you. Thank you guys so much for having me.
[00:38:19] Ray: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of here@haas. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a rating and review.
[00:38:26] Check out our website links, show notes and other episodes. This episode was produced by Ranjani Murphy with help from Bradley Friedman on the edits. I’m Ray Guan. And we’ll see you next time here at Haas.