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We Hired You for a Reason: Owning Your Individuality

Hear from Khari, a Principal Account Executive, an individual and a member of the Black Organizational Leadership at Discover (BOLD) employee resource group. Read his story to learn how he’s made it through 20 years of promotions, why he’s celebrating individuality and how he continually gathers the confidence to speak up.

Khari Towns
Principal Account Executive
Phoenix, AZ
Pronouns: He/Him/His

I’ve always known that I have a strong voice. In the past, I may not have always used my voice, in favor of deferring to leadership or out of fear of agitating an environment. I truly discovered my voice once I recognized that I add value and was told to speak up.  Even though I felt confident, it took encouragement from others to speak up. I still often have to remind myself of the value I bring. When I see others are reluctant to speak up, I try to encourage them to help them share their voice and let them know they’re valued.

I’m fortunate to have been at Discover for over 20 years now. I’ve associated with many types of leaders in our organization. I’ve known key leaders who have advocated on my behalf and helped me work on unique and important initiatives within the organization. Those experiences led to promotions. In each instance, I had a close working relationship with other partners where I was able to demonstrate my skillset and ability to learn. I’ve taken little pieces from each leader and project to form my own working style and impart that information to others.

Letting people express themselves freely not only helps retain employees by keeping them happy, but also spotlights their unique viewpoint. Highlighting their perspective can help the overall business. Celebrating individuality fosters diversity. Diverse thought is key to continuing to push through the everyday challenges we’re faced with.

If you struggle to bring your authentic self to work, remember that we hired you for a reason. You demonstrated capabilities in your skillset that we need. We need you. If you’re not able to be your authentic self, you won’t be fully happy. You need to do you!

Each day, distractions can take away from keeping the main thing, “the main thing.” I’ve always tried to take time to focus and reflect. Through my internal reflection, I’m able to realize my unique qualities and how those can be added to the team. For example, I’m known for being cool, calm and collected with an ability to speak well. At Discover, those qualities allow me to create and facilitate presentations for client engagements, participate in industry events and speak on behalf of our organization.

As a Black professional, I’m excited for the possibility for continued growth and change for the better in 2021 and beyond. People are starting to gain a better understanding of the challenges we still have to overcome. We have come far, but there’s still much more to the journey ahead.


Learn more about Discover’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Black Organizational Leadership at Discover (BOLD) employee resource group.