Latia Harris recently joined Box as the Head of Belonging, also leading Strategic Programs and acting as the Chief of Staff to to Jess Swank, our Chief People Officer. Latia has a diverse career background having begun her career in sales, but found her career calling on the people side helping organizations reach their full potential. Learn more about Latia below:
First things first, tell us about yourself!
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York (#GoBills), but have made Texas home for almost 15 years (not consecutively). I’m a mom to 2 year old twin girls, Claire and Emerson, and married to my best friend and biggest advocate, Mark.
Being a first-generation college grad has shaped so much of my journey. Professionally, I’ve done everything from sales, to learning and development, to HR business partnership with multi-billion dollar business units. I’ve had an absolute blast along the way and learned so much from each experience. I am thrilled to take on this new role at Box, and continue my work helping people and organizations thrive through creating a more diverse and inclusive culture.
When I’m not working you can catch me at a local coffee shop jamming to Beyonce or my latest audiobook!
You started your career in sales. What inspired you to pivot to the people side of the house?
I was working in an industry going through immense change and became fascinated by the importance of getting the “people stuff” right for the business to be successful. In typical Latia fashion, I went all in and quit my sales job to do a full-time MBA focusing on Human and Org Performance. While I’ll always be a seller at heart, the people side has been more interesting and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined.
What drew you to Box?
All of my career has been spent in very large companies, so I knew I wanted something different for my next move in order to really be able to see the impact of my work. Box had been on my radar for a long time since I used the product personally and professionally, plus a leader I really respected was over at Box. What really sold me was when I began researching the culture and the values, I knew pretty instantly there was a potential match. I had never seen “Bring your __ self to work” as a value and I knew this would a great place to do DEI work.
What are your top priorities in your new role?
Box had a solid diversity, equity and inclusion foundation when I joined, so for me it’s about continuing to build upon that. Overall, I want to be sure my team is helping Box to 1) build a diverse workforce to support our long-term strategy, 2) advance a culture of inclusion and belonging, and 3) enable Boxers to take accountability for DEI at all levels (as individuals and as an institution).
As many organizations, like Box, make the shift to a hybrid workforce, what do you think will be key to sustain an inclusive workplace?
I believe we need to collectively pause and questioning how we work so that we can be intentional in the hybrid experience. We now have to think about scaling cultures in an environment where are we aren’t purely in office nor purely remote. The opportunity is making sure everyone can still have an equitable experience where they can participate as their full self and be successful regardless of where they are working from. While there is a lot to figure out and companies will have to learn along the way, I think it’s a really exciting time, because we will question norms that probably excluded people in our previous ways of working.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given?
Dream BIGGER. It’s very easy to create our own limiting beliefs about what may be possible, especially when you come from an underrepresented group. That advice helped me be bolder and be my best self professionally because I believed more was possible. I'm not saying there haven’t been roadblocks and hardships, but people experience you differently when you believe you’re supposed to be in the room.