UAH alumna shares strategies for career success

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UAH alumna Talitha Hampton-Mayo is a project manager at AstraZeneca and the vice-president and president-elect of the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

As a well-established professional in the pharmaceutical industry, Talitha Hampton-Mayo ('09 MSE CE) has attended many meetings. But she can still recall the one with Dr. Mark Bower, then dean of UAH's College of Engineering, about whether she should attend UAH for her graduate degree in chemical engineering.

"Dr. Bower cleared his calendar that day to learn more about me and help me work through my academic options - he never once pushed UAH on me," she says. "Because of that experience, I felt that UAH was the place for me."

And the decision has since paid off. "My UAH degree has absolutely opened doors for me," says Hampton-Mayo, now a project manager at AstraZeneca. "A graduate degree, particularly in engineering, signals that you not only have the commitment to your discipline, but that you have the mental toughness to see an objective to completion."

While at UAH, Hampton-Mayo relied on the wise counsel of her co-advisors: Dr. C.P. Chen, Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, and Dr. Emanuel Waddell, Associate Professor of Chemistry. "They pushed me and encouraged me to try new things," she says. "I would not have finished without their guidance."

Early career professionals of all ethnicities and backgrounds must learn how to be flexible and creative and develop a brand that positions them for success.

Talitha Hampton-Mayo
UAH Alumna

She also found support as a member of UAH's Minority Graduate Student Association, where she met her future husband David Mayo ('08, MSE). Thanks to the efforts of faculty advisor Dr. Adriel Johnson, Hampton-Mayo says the group created a sense of community that "allowed us to encourage each other, push for academic excellence, share best practices, learn from more experienced members, and mentor those coming behind us."

Today, Hampton-Mayo does the same for up-and-coming career professionals. As vice-president and president-elect of the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, she is both a mentor and a leader. "Early career professionals of all ethnicities and backgrounds must learn how to be flexible and creative and develop a brand that positions them for success," she says.

She offers these business strategies for getting ahead:

  • Develop and manage your professional brand. Executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals do not accidentally wind up at the top; they create a brand that takes them there.
  • Cultivate a network that is always expanding and includes a diverse mixture of people, careers, experiences, and ideas. The more exposure you have and the larger your network is, the greater the probability is of someone knowing the great work that you are doing.
  • Be BIG and LEAN IN. Hampton-Mayo's mantra? "If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu."
  • Give back. There are a lot of people who have helped you get to where you are, and you have a responsibility to do the same for others.

Last but not least, make a difference. "Every day that I come to work," she says, "I know that doing my best work contributes to a better life for someone else."

 

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