Mary Lachapelle is the Director of Growth & Partnerships at Tech Talent South. With the goal of championing growth at the intersection of business development and community engagement, Mary cultivates relationships with corporations to meet their talent recruitment, training, and staffing needs. She also leads strategic outreach initiatives to build our diverse talent network. In short, Mary creates opportunities for the advancement of corporations, regional markets, and individual careers in technology.
As a relentlessly cheerful and results-driven collaborator, Mary believes that adversity is an opportunity to achieve positive change at scale. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she played a crucial role in helping Tech Talent South pivot from providing in-person training in 12 cities to offering remote programs nationwide. Mary led a team that grew TTS’ early talent pipeline by over 5,000%, providing underrepresented recent college graduates from around the country free access to technical training and career advancement. She spearheaded the launch of our Veteran’s Tech Accelerator, a program that provides tuition-free training to military service members and spouses. Currently, she is leading the charge to expand TTS’ corporate partnerships, engaging with more than 60 companies looking to grow their digital workforce.
Mary has been recognized as one of the Silicon Bayou 100, the 100 most influential and active people in tech and entrepreneurship throughout Louisiana, for two consecutive years. She holds a Bachelors's Degree in Philosophy and Digital Media Production from Tulane University and studied Fine Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
What is your current role at TTS?
As Director of Growth & Partnerships, my objective is to scale our corporate partner and talent pipelines. Why? We are experiencing a global talent crisis. There simply aren't enough trained professionals to meet the demand for a digital workforce. That's where Tech Talent South comes in. We find brilliant, diverse talent with an aptitude for greatness, equip them with technical skills, and place them in roles with corporate partners that value inclusion. We're essentially matchmakers, connecting smart people with innovative companies. A big part of my work is strategizing ways that we can partner with these candidates and corporations to build impactful, lasting relationships.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
At first, I wanted to be an oncologist. At 13, I realized that I was too squeamish to work in medicine and decided to become an artist.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?
It's all about the people. Revenue, taxes, occupational licenses, marketing, administration, bookkeeping, sales - all of these things are important. But the truth is that, without people, we have nothing. Prioritizing the people you work with and those you serve is the first step in creating an impactful and sustainable business. If you miss this, you're missing everything.
What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
Pre-pandemic, I was on the road a lot. My favorite thing was creating a mini workspace wherever I landed - in a coffee shop, hotel room, airport restaurant. During the quarantine, I'd have to say it's having my cat, Muffin, nearby to make a guest appearance on Zoom calls.
What does success mean to you?
Success, to me, means growth. The idea of success can be tricky and a little deceiving if we are working with the wrong mindset. By focusing on an idea of perfection, we become trapped by the need to perform and we surrender our worth to our inevitable human imperfection. When we focus on our identity - on whom we want to become (kind, honest, patient, authentic, trustworthy, etc.) - success becomes much more sustainable as we can create small, daily habits that move us towards this ideal. This way, we can measure success by our journey towards the expression of our identity rather than by our works alone, which are destined to fall short of perfection.
What is something that you're proud of in your business experiences?
I am proud of Tech Talent South's willingness to prioritize inclusion. We have done incredible work to impact our underserved and underrepresented communities through strategic outreach initiatives, tuition-free training, and career advancement opportunities. In addition, we have created an internal task force to continue our corporate team's growth in this area and change the way we do business to prioritize this work. We have also partnered with organizations to produce events focused on elevating women and BIPOC in tech by motivating people to move from dialogue to action. I have been deeply humbled to be a part of these initiatives and am proud to work for a company that champions these efforts.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I speak the truth to myself, even when I don't believe it. It's easy to fall prey to discouragement and self-doubt. Life is wrought with adversity and we live in an imperfect world; struggle and failure are inevitable life experiences. In these moments, I remind myself of the truth that, although I am imperfect, I am enough, I am loved, my worth is unchangeable, and everything is temporary. I look for opportunities to learn from my experience and chart the course for change. When I struggle to get to this place on my own, I surround myself with others who can encourage me in the truth. We're stronger together!
What have you learned about yourself over the past year?
I learned that I am incredibly resilient. 2020 presented everyone with a cocktail of challenges and the difficulties that we faced brought everything within us to the surface - the good and the ugly. 2020 was a healthy reminder that I can not only endure all things but also grow from them. The year also taught me that some of the most beautiful transformations can come from the most formidable circumstances. When I look at who I was in January 2020 and who I am today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I overcame and how it has changed my life for the better.
What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love? Or what is your personal or professional motto?
Be the change. Do the work, one step at a time.
What's your favorite thing to come home to after a long day?
I look forward to cooking a delicious vegan meal, snuggling with my cat, Muffin, and watching a film.
What does the world need more of?
The world needs more love - love of ourselves and love of others. If we all extended more patience, kindness, humility, honor, forbearance, grace, and honesty to ourselves and to others, the world would be a better place. But this starts at home; until we learn to love ourselves, we will always struggle to treat others with love. Love isn't a feeling; it's an action. This is a daily choice we make to create a better world for ourselves and for others.
What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without in your workday?
My daily "quiet times" make my work possible. I block my calendar for a couple of short periods each day, allowing myself the space to catch up, brainstorm, get organized, strategize, and center myself between meetings and commitments. Some of my best work happens in this space I've created for myself.
Name a woman (or women) past or present, whom you admire or look up to.
I am inspired by so many incredible women! I admire my previous boss, Tammy Kern, for her integrity, loyalty, and compassionate heart. I look up to our Founder & CEO, Betsy Hauser, for her strength, vision, and leadership. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, has inspired and empowered me to build wealth and work to put more money in the hands of women. I am also deeply inspired by the women closest to me: my friends, family, and colleagues. Their daily demonstration of strength, beauty, compassion, wit, creativity, empathy, faith, and love motivates me to live to my fullest potential.
Tell us what you're currently consuming / favorite book, podcast, newsletter, artist, etc.
Newsletter: Darling Media.
What's something (or someone) who grounds you?
Finally, what would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?
"Life" is being in a constant state of change; embrace it and decide whom you want to become. Time passes faster than you could imagine. Stop to appreciate the small moments, create freely and express yourself, listen more than you speak, learn for curiosity's sake, reject perfectionism, and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to build deep, meaningful relationships. At the end of the day, it's about the people and the love you give. When in doubt, choose to love.