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Spotlight on Liam

Liam is a fantastic team member, leader, and LGBTQ+ advocate who Co-Leads the Arlington chapter of PRIDE. Learn about how he’s overcome challenges, translated his skills to some surprising places, and what makes PS a great place for him to work.

Liam Whitaker
Liam Whitaker

Can you tell us about any challenges you’ve overcome in your role as Program Manager but also as PRIDE Lead?

Admittedly, one of the most common challenges that I continue to face is the scarcity of resources and now – in the time of COVID-19 – an added pressure to ensure we as an office and a company continue to feel connected and supported. As one of the Global PRIDE Leads, I have dealt with cut budgets like other BRGs and internal initiatives, which has forced us to come up with creative and innovative means for fostering inclusivity and diverse perspectives. Amazingly, the PRIDE Ambassadors have increased involvement across the board with virtual events, newsletters, and other engagements. I’m thrilled to have been a part of this talented network of individuals and the successes we’ve seen since the start of 2020 – the number of chapters is increasing to include our revamped Toronto chapter and other potential expansions and Publicis Sapient received a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index again.

 

What are some of the tasks you’ve spearheaded or excelled at?

During my time at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) I was the sole creator and owner of our project’s Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) which spanned 3000+ lines of tasks, deliverables, and milestones. In my time at the SEC, I also excelled at reading securities law and form requirements (which ignited my interest in the law and subsequent decision to pursue law school).

While it didn’t yield the results, we were hoping for in FY2020, one of the first tasks I took on as a Global Lead of PRIDE was as their treasurer. I was asked to step into the role and help drive a request/recommendation to have PRIDE’s funding increased. Based in historical financial data and the goals set forth by the PRIDE Leadership and Publicis Sapient Leadership Team, it was a task that I felt incredibly strong at both in terms of data-driven decision-making and long-term planning. Believe it or not, I took this experience and directly translated it into crafting my condominium association’s FY2020 budget proposal. Just shows how skills translate to all other areas of our lives if we keep an eye out for it.

 

Can you describe any projects or innovations you have been part of? 

The innovation this year that I was most excited about and happy to lead was the transition of the Arlington Office PRIDE Month to a completely virtual format. I helped lead other initiatives in other offices, but this was my home office and something I was passionate about. I kicked off Project Visibility to start a month-long series of challenges to increase the visibility of not only those identifying as part of the LGBTQ spectrum but also their allies in the office. It was composed of eight challenges spanning everything from introducing oneself to learning about the laws impacting LGBTQ individuals in their state. In the time of COVID-19, I was happy to see the breadth of engagement and connection that was happening during a month meant to celebrate all the love that we share as individuals.

“Publicis Sapient found me in 2016. They won me over with whiteboards and bagel Wednesdays. They kept me with their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; their culture of openness and collaboration; and their focus on bringing in and fostering talent built around innovation and imagination.”

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the events that Arlington PRIDE has managed to put on over the course of my time as Ambassador. There are three that stick out:

  • The first was a panel that we partnered with the Transgender Education Association of Greater Washington to execute. During that panel, we had an audience engaging with questions ranging from clarifying the vocabulary and pronoun usage to how best to parent their children expressing gender non-conforming behaviors/thoughts. It was amazing to see these people – my coworkers – engaging with questions, concepts, and best practices to ensure everyone felt welcomed, accepted, and loved/supported both in and out of our shared workplace.
  • The second was a workshop PRIDE partnered with Viva Women of Color to put on. It covered the concepts of identity and privilege. The participants opened up in ways I couldn’t have imagined. We discussed the role of race and how it interacts with other identities (e.g., class, religion, and sexuality) as well as how all of them contribute to our overall privilege as we relate to others.
  • The third was a passive event that impacted the entire office. It was called the PRIDE Hall of Flags. Throughout the office, the multiple Pride Flags representing gender and sexuality identities were hung with accompanying informational placards. I was in awe of my co-workers scouring the office to find them all and learn about their identities. People posted pictures on Instagram, they asked questions whenever they saw me in the halls, and they acknowledged how much they just didn’t know.

 

What makes working at Publicis Sapient enjoyable for you?

Some may consider it a cop-out, but in all seriousness, the part of my work as a PM that gets me out of bed every day and makes my job enjoyable are my teams. My HRSA team is composed of designers, developers, testers, and fellow PMs focused on pushing our clients into the future to better improve healthcare disparities across the country. My previous SEC team made the most of a complicated contract and attempted to create a new direction/system for public companies to engage with the Federal government. And the individuals who go above and beyond to participate in PRIDE and other internal initiatives outside of their “day jobs” make me proud to work alongside them. I wouldn’t be as creative, effective, or impactful without the individuals – and friends – making up my teams.

Publicis Sapient found me in 2016. They won me over with whiteboards and bagel Wednesdays. They kept me with their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; their culture of openness and collaboration; and their focus on bringing in and fostering talent built around innovation and imagination.

Liam Whitaker
Liam Whitaker
Senior Associate, Program Management
Liam is based in Arlington and currently disrupting the federal government business and IT world alongside the Publicis Sapient team while advocating on behalf of LGBTQ+ employees across the company. Outside the office, he is an avid runner (currently training for his sixth Marine Corps Marathon and looking for running partners) and a student at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School.

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