Nitcelle Emanuels ascended several rungs on the corporate ladder by 2014. She had earned two degrees from Georgia State: a B.S. in human resources and policy development from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in 2003 and an MBA from the Robinson College of Business in 2011. And as strategic program manager for SAP Ariba’s Global Sales and Services Enablement organization, she was crafting, managing, and executing strategic programs and overseeing training and development assets.
Despite the professional momentum, Emanuels hit pause on her career for a couple years, relocating to Singapore for her husband to take advantage of a job opportunity. The decision to prioritize family was worth it; she exposed her daughter to different cultures and religions, and experienced significant personal growth. But when Emanuels returned to the United States, figuring out her next professional step wasn’t simple or straightforward.
“After taking two years off, I had to build the confidence to re-enter the workforce, network, and forge new relationships,” Emanuels said. “Getting back on track with my personal and professional goals was one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced.”
After contacting previous colleagues, Emanuels landed a position managing the operations of new feature releases for SAP Ariba. When a new president took the helm of SAP’s business portfolio, Emanuels joined the company’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) team, working on projects such as a new D&I framework and strategy, talent acquisition initiatives, and the incorporation of gender empowerment and neurodiversity. That experience set her up for another pivot, and her biggest professional accomplishment to date.
After assuming the position of director of global diversity and inclusion for Dell Technologies, Emanuels dove headfirst into spearheading the Women in Tech platform, a repository of resources for females interested in STEM fields.
“The focus was on broadening access and accelerating the representation of STEM-ready young girls and women,” Emanuels said. “The platform offers a community of support and a network of role models to help grow females’ interest in STEM.”
In order to construct the best product possible, Emanuels engaged with her alma mater. Students from Robinson’s WomenLead program participated in design thinking sessions, and students from the college’s Institute for Insight provided development support. The end result? A platform with the capabilities to provide an arsenal of content including gamified learning, videos, workshops, and a mentor matching tool.
“I enjoyed collaborating with the students as well as with other companies and community organizations. We leveraged those diverse perspectives to demystify some of the myths surrounding STEM careers and help girls understand a day in the life of a computer scientist,” Emanuels said. “I was excited to connect them with role models and provide an outlet for those conversations.”
Emanuels has remained connected to the WomenLead program, and spoke to those students about diversity and inclusion last fall. Since engagement from alumni made her own academic experience at Robinson special, she finds it critical to pay that forward.
“I remember attending a couple of workshops and being able to approach alumni and ask questions about their career journey,” Emanuels said. “It’s important for me to share my story and let students know that, as an alumna, I’m always available to help.”
In March, Emanuels left Dell to become director of Starbucks’ Inclusion & Diversity Policy and Practice team. Current projects include updating processes and using augmented reality in the company’s learning approach. Clearly, the lapse on her resume didn’t negatively impact her career. If anything, Emanuels came back better and stronger than ever.