Charismatic, passionate and sincere are three words that come to mind as I think back on the latest Meet Team Sprout interviewee, Michelle Bess.

Michelle joined Sprout a year ago when we were looking for a new team member to lead and help reinforce our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as well as bolster our recruiting efforts for the operations team.

In her short time here, Michelle has already put her charismatic, passionate and sincere personality to work, making big strides throughout the organization to increase collaboration, add phenomenal talent to the team and further Sprout’s dedication to creating a workplace where everyone feels comfortable and able to flourish.

Name: Michelle Y. Bess
Department: Operations
Started at Sprout: August 2016

What’s your role at Sprout and what does it entail?

I am a Talent Specialist recruiting for the operations team and I lead all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives here at Sprout. This comes to fruition in many different ways, but a majority of my time is spent reviewing applications, speaking with candidates and hiring managers, framing the vision around DEI at Sprout, and working closely with leadership and our DEI advisory board to examine ways we can enhance our efforts.

What’s your most memorable accomplishment or favorite project you’ve worked on since joining Team Sprout?

Every January Sprout holds a kickoff meeting to share plans and goals for the year ahead with the entire team. I was asked to present our DEI roadmap at the 2017 meeting and that opportunity has been one of the most memorable experiences I have had at Sprout so far. Even better than being able to give the team a glimpse at the great work we had planned for the year, was the positive response from my colleagues following the presentation. I had numerous people come up to me after to say how excited they were that DEI is a priority for Sprout. To know my passion is shared by so many of my team members empowers me to continue my work and aim even higher.

Part of the DEI plan you presented this past January included a new initiative around monthly DEI Guild Meetings. Can you share more details about this initiative and how it has progressed so far?

Our DEI Guild meetings are open to all Sprout Social employees and occur monthly. At the meetings we discuss a number of topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion which to date has included, identity, women in tech, defining common language, and hearing about the experiences of our LGBTQIA peers in the workplace. The most significant aspect of our Guild meetings is creating a safe space for people to dialogue about some typically taboo topics, ask questions, and build relationships across differences and departments.

What three tabs are most likely to be open on your browser on any given work day?

You are probably going to think I am pretty boring, but the top three would be Gmail, my calendar and Google Sheets. I like to keep my days and work as organized as possible so Google Sheets is a must—my whole work plan is in there. Other than those three tabs, I also usually have a trending DEI article open.

Where in the office do you do your best thinking?

Since I am often speaking with a handful of candidates each day, I spend a lot of time at my desk. However, when I need to take some time to be on my own and think, I will find an empty conference room and turn on classical music.

As a Talent Specialist, you’ve spoken with hundreds of people during the job search process. What advice would you give to a candidate applying for a role at Sprout?

General advice for applying at Sprout, or any growth-stage company, is to first take time to think about your skill set and identify what type of work gives you the most energy and excitement. Not everyone is meant to join or enjoys working for a growth-stage company. While it can be easy to get drawn in by the opportunity to innovate, growth-stage companies are also always changing. You have to find comfort in discomfort. This type of environment may not be right for you, and that is ok, but be sure to look at an opportunity holisticly before jumping in.

What’s your morning routine?

I wake up around 5 a.m. and take advantage of our free Divvy membership to bike to the gym. Following my workout, I come home, get ready for work and head to either the bus or train to commute into the office. I really enjoy spending my downtime on the commute reading an article on DEI or productivity, and of course getting my morning dose of news from theSkimm. At some point during the morning I also make time to get a cup of coffee (they say coffee fuels the soul, right?), yogurt and a cashew macro bar.

Let’s play a quick game. It is an oldie, but goodie. Share two truths and one lie about yourself.

  • I have run a mile in 5:50
  • I was born in Germany
  • I am the oldest of five kids

Can you guess which is the lie? Find out at the end of this post.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love spending time with my 6-month-old nephew. I truly believe spending time with children helps you reimagine the world and experience life in new ways. Aside from spending time with family, I am also the President of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Junior Board. Most of my responsibilities as President relate to working with members of the Board to create and implement fun and engaging programs that help raise money for the library foundation to support programs like One Book, One Chicago, Teacher in the Library, and the Summer Learning Challenge.

What is your favorite snack in Sprout’s kitchen?

Welch’s fruit snacks, hands down. I eat a pack everyday after lunch.

What was your lie from our game earlier?

That I ran a mile in 5:50. I actually ran it in less time.