Interview with Parisa Mayfield
Driven and passionate, Parisa is a woman on a mission. Her joy draws you in, and her ambition propels you forward. She’s not one to waste time, and certainly did not waste our time in this interview—it’s packed full of nuggets of wisdom.
September 2018 Next Level Alumna
Describe your current role.
I am an HR Business Partner at Starbucks. I support the store development organization, which is essentially how we build our beautiful stores—it’s everything from real estate, construction, design, and facilities. In that role, I support partners (our employees) and leaders, helping them elevate themselves and our organization. This includes talent management, succession planning, org design, change management, team building, employee relations, coaching, and mentoring—all of that, into one. It’s a great role; I really like it.
How would you describe your style of leadership?
I love this question. I would describe my style of leadership in four main pillars: empathetic, relational, curious, and results-driven.
To dive a little bit deeper, the empathetic piece is really about being in someone else’s shoes, understanding their point of view on things—their perspective on why things were or are a certain way.
Regarding relational, I’m just a huge relationship builder. It’s the first thing that I do—try to find a connection with somebody on a personal level. It’s innate in me to want to have that and I think it really helps, not just in leadership, but in all areas of life.
And then curious, I’m just an incredibly curious person and I’ve delved deep to figure out what this really means for me. I’ve always been someone who asks a ton of questions, and not to be devil’s advocate, but to truly understand every aspect of a decision or the way we do things. It helps me make effective long–term decisions. I have true intellectual curiosity.
And finally, results-driven—I’m an incredibly ambitious and driven person. I need tangible results no matter what I do. It’s something that drives and propels me.
Tell us about a pivotal moment or experience in your professional journey.
I think I referenced this experience at the Next Level training. Starting the International Business Intern Program (IBIP) at Boeing is one of the most pivotal moments in my career, but I didn’t realize it until I started working with a coach. I’ve had a coach at Starbucks for the past six months, and she has really helped me unpack new insights. What made IBIP so pivotal is that I realized my calling in that role. I realized that no matter what I do professionally, it has to align to people impact—to change lives in one way or another, on a micro or macro level.
While leading that program, I was working with interns from around the world—people from Brazil, UAE, Turkey, India, Singapore, etc. For them, their single internship experience at Boeing was going to change the course of their career. Realizing that impact and seeing the change in them over the six-month internship was huge. In fact, I just recently met with a few of my former Turkey interns who I have kept in touch with for the past six years and it truly filled my cup.
Starting and leading IBIP it was pivotal because it helped me steer my career moving forward and understand what really provides fulfillment for me.
What’s the most meaningful career advice you’ve ever received?
I had a mentor at Starbucks who mentioned something that stuck with me. She said that as I navigate through my career, I need to focus on two things:
First, reflect on the work, not your title, but the work—what you did and how it made your feel. Really unpack the emotional context of the work—what were the aspects of the work that made you feel a certain way and why? Keep asking why to get to deep root cause. Determine what gives you fulfillment and let that be your guiding light to know what you fundamentally need future roles. So for me, as mentioned in my previous response, what gives me fulfillment is changing lives—people impact. That is what I need in every role moving forward in my career. Of course, I’m constantly recalibrating and reflecting on that to ensure it’s still relevant.
The second related piece of advice: as you look at your skillset and work experience, determine the gaps that you have in your skillset. Let those gaps serve as your guide or compass to select your next position. What exposure or hands on experience is needed to shrink those gaps? Focus on this, regardless of job title. For me, I always felt the need to move up because I am results-driven, and I tied that to job title. I’ve realized that the title really doesn’t matter, what matters is how I’m growing professionally and personally through work.
In order to determine gaps, it’s helpful to know your end goal, or your next step; but even if you don’t have that, you can still identify gaps. In my career for example, I had finance, program management, and recruiting experience. My goal is to stay and grow in HR and I realized that I had a gap in understanding the HR Business Partner role, which is what I’m doing now.
Following this advice provides clarity on what to pursue and why.
How did attending the Next Level Women Leaders training impact you?
This training was pivotal in my career. It gave me clarity in a time when I was really clouded in understanding my purpose and professional career goals. I felt my wheel was off-kilter, and I didn’t know why. Identifying and evaluating values helped me understand why I felt off and to identify what was missing. It has helped provide me with clarity to know how to move forward.
“Impact” only scratches the surface. It was truly life-changing for me and it came at the perfect time.