Copper and Brass Sales is celebrating Black History Month by shining a spotlight on some exceptional employees and sharing their inspiring journeys. Through these engaging interviews, three employees narrate the ups and downs they’ve experienced in their lives as well as how thyssenkrupp Materials NA became a fundamental part of their life journeys.
Today, we would like to highlight Keith H, our UX Architect. Keith has been with Copper and Brass Sales for just over 18 months, initially brought in as a contractor.
Keith stood out by working hard in his role as a contractor before he was ultimately brought on as a full-time Copper and Brass Sales employee. His role in developing the user experience for our customers’ online experience initially started by doing more technical user behavior research and low-fidelity concept work for the eCommerce website. Eventually, he was asked to branch out into high-fidelity work and lead the continuous improvement of the user experience within the eCommerce platform.
When asked about this as a career choice, Keith revealed he originally intended to become a civil engineer. During his freshman year in college, he took a coding class as a prerequisite. Keith did so well that the professor talked him into changing his degree to computer science. It was an intimidating choice to make at the time, and he was concerned about his lack of connections in the industry. He also feared not having a potential mentor to guide him in the field. Regardless, Keith took a leap of faith and changed his focus.
Keith started his career as an intern doing coding and development work. Although it was not required of him, he continued to increase his competency and acquired a UX Certification. Through hard work and a few introductions from his network, he had the opportunity to work on a UX project and present it to executives at a potential employer at the time. Impressed by his expertise, they quickly hired Keith as a full-time team lead on the project.
Looking back, Keith acknowledged that during his tenure with that employer, he maneuvered through one of the most challenging experiences of his career. He was the youngest on that team and was treated poorly. He felt he needed to put in a lot of extra effort to earn respect. His hard work paid off, and he continued to capture the attention of the executives. He eventually landed a mentorship with one of the most powerful leaders in the company.
While Keith faced some conflict early in his career due to his age, he feels fortunate not to have experienced any racial discrimination in the workplace. Keith speculates that perhaps people have outgrown racial discrimination within the corporate world, though he can only speak based upon his own experiences. As we talked about the topic of Black History Month, he revealed some struggles that he faced growing up in an all-black neighborhood within an interracial family. These challenging experiences afforded him a thick skin and helped him learn how to communicate with all different types of people. Despite these difficult childhood experiences, he never let them weigh him down.
Primarily raised by his grandparents in Detroit, Keith spent a good amount of his time helping his grandfather at his mechanic shop. Keith attributes his work ethic to his grandfather, who worked tirelessly Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm for 40 years. Whenever he wasn’t helping at his grandfather’s shop, he was sent to play sports by his grandmother. While we don’t share the last names of the employees we spotlight here, Keith’s family name is well known in the city of Detroit. Keith is related to a well-known professional boxer and that was one reason why everyone in their family was expected to work hard — they had a reputation to live up to! Additionally, being surrounded by competitive kids in his neighborhood also drove his ambition and competitive, sports-focused nature. Keith’s interest and success in different sports resulted in scholarships that paid for his college education.
It’s evident that Keith’s childhood experiences shaped the outgoing, responsible, open-minded, and fearless personality he has today. Many of his traits seem to enhance his understanding of user behavior and help him create exceptional experiences for all those involved in projects he’s part of.
Keith is happy with the career path that he chose. His experience in computer science introduced him to the UX field where he has spent the last 13 years of his career. Keith’s goal is to move into a management role where he’ll have the opportunity to mentor designers and foster the entire team to create the best customer experience possible. His ultimate life aspiration is to develop an application of his own, turning his vision into a reality.
Keith’s story reveals someone who thrives in demanding situations and loves to take on new challenges. Keith often mentioned how lucky he was to meet the right people at the right time. He never shied away from creating an opportunity for himself. In our opinion, he rightfully earned each opportunity that came along. Like the Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Copper and Brass Sales is fortunate that Keith joined our team and we’re grateful to have had the chance to share his inspiring story with you through our celebration of Black History Month.