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HERstory: Cassidy Blackwell

Director, Strategic Projects, Public Affairs, Airbnb

Cassidy Blackwell is the Director of Strategic Projects on the Airbnb Public Affairs team. In her role, she is responsible for leading proactive strategic initiatives that not only support the advancement of global policy goals but also, by extension, greater business objectives. Cassidy has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Brand Innovator’s 40 Under 40, and a finalist for the Sage Group’s Marketers Who Matter.

How did you break into leadership?

I broke into leadership by advocating for myself. There was a point in my previous role in which we were looking for a replacement for a leadership role. I decided to speak up and advocate for my consideration for the role instead of an external candidate and it was well-received by the company’s leadership.

How do you design a rewarding career?

What you’ll find is that you are your own best advocate. You’re also more in charge of your own destiny than you might realize. By taking ownership of your goal setting process, you’ll be able to better set your own metrics of success and grow into the roles and skills that you desire. 

What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?

Not just as a woman in tech, but as a woman of color in tech, I find that I am more attuned to matters of inclusivity and belonging in setting strategies.

If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

It may be cliché, but everything turns out as it should. I try to live with no regrets. Even the things that went sideways, I learned from them. Without them having gone sideways, I may not be where I am today.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

Being able to turn a passion into a thriving career. Years ago, I had a path set out based on what I thought my life should look like. Then, I decided to deviate from that and pursue a lesser-known path, beauty blogging, which turned into a new career. 

Allowing myself the space to explore and learn, and doing what I wanted to do, rather than what I thought I should be doing, are two of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.    

Share something interesting or valuable with the community.

Follow your heart and do what you WANT to do, not what you think you should do. I love this video of Rhapsody in Blue from Fantasia2000, in which this idea is brought to life.

Thanks to Jes Kirkwood who conducted this interview in April 2018.

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