Chibuenyi is featured as one of WoSV’s Resilient Allies, a series of men of color who exemplify allyship and have overcome significant systemic barriers in the tech industry themselves.
Chibuenyi Griffith is an Associate Workday Specialist at Salesforce. As a high school senior, like most of his classmates, he was uncertain of his next steps post-graduation. The thought of investing four years and going thousands of dollars into debt to study a field that he may or may not have interest in scared him away from the traditional college path. He wanted more time to explore his options before making a significant time and financial commitment. He wanted to choose his own adventure, a different path to success.
After six months at a tech-vocational program through a non-profit organization called Year Up, he earned a six-month internship at Salesforce.com as a Technical Writer. For the first time, he had confidence in himself, a sense of purpose, and a future to look forward to. After the internship and the Year Up program concluded, he was thrilled and humbled to return to Salesforce.com to launch his professional career working in the HR department as an Associate Workday Specialist. His team maintains the Workday platform, which enables the Employee Success team to effectively manage all employee cases such as payroll, benefits, compensation.
Outside of work, Chibuenyi enjoys running, poetry, and fashion. He is eager to mentor others who are about to embark on similar journeys as the one that he has previously traveled.
1. When did you know that you wanted to work in tech?
I wasn’t sure what to study after high school and that’s when I was introduced to a non-profit organization called Year Up. Year Up is a one-year rigorous technical training and career readiness program that invests in thousands of opportunity youth annually across the country. The program is comprised of six months of college-level courses and professional training known as the “Learning and Development” phase, followed by a six-month internship at a Fortune 500 company.
About three months before being placed in an internship, I stumbled across the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco during one of my early morning runs. At that point, I didn’t know much about Salesforce, but I was so enamored by the building that I paused my run to get a better look at the gigantic tower. As I attempted to jog around the building to get a 360-view of the exterior, I was stopped by security.
That morning, as I stood facing the building, looking up and trying to peek at the top of the Salesforce Tower, I made myself a goal that in three months, I no longer wanted to be standing outside looking up and thinking, “Wow this building is huge!” Instead, I wanted to be walking into the building, saying, “Yes, I work here!” As cheesy as that may sound, through all of my grit, hard work, and determination, I made that early morning goal a reality. Joining Year Up gave me the confidence that I needed to be able to picture myself launching a career and working at a tech company.
2. Who is a role model that you look up to?
I look up to Nick Vujicic. Here is a guy with no arms and legs and yet, he still finds a way to make something out of his life, and manages to find happiness in his life. He is a great reminder that there is really no excuse to not show up as your best self each day.
3. Where is your hometown?
4. What is a struggle that you’ve faced and how did you handle it?
Towards the end of my senior year of high school, I became homeless, after parting ways with my parents. It was the loneliest and lowest point of my life.
At the time, I was attending a College-Prep program at Diablo Valley College. Some nights, after the end of the day, I would stay at the school’s library until closing time, then I’d settle in for the night at one of the elevators, trying to stay away from both the campus security and the cold night weather.
On the nights when I had to work, I would take shelter in a rented car after getting off work. I was homeless for about three weeks until my manager at work noticed my suitcase. After a sad, pathetic attempt to hide my situation from them, I finally admitted that I had no place to stay. My manager took me in, allowing me to stay at her place. A few days later, I started a vocational tech program called Year Up. Through the program’s help and resources, I was able to find shelter in San Francisco.
5. What is something that you are immensely proud of?
I was born a sprinter. Track and field was my sport (especially 100m & 20m dash) until my mother dragged me into long distance running. After months of training, I was able to run my first marathon (26.2 miles)! I was so motivated by my own ability to achieve this intense goal that I ended up running another full marathon the following year.
6. What’s something that’s been on your mind a lot lately?
I’ve been thinking about the most efficient way to balance school and work.
7. Favorite food?
Garri and soup (a traditional Nigerian dish).
8. Favorite book?
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine.
9. If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?
A movie director!
10. If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?