At Bottle Rocket, our people are our greatest strength. We believe in diversity, inclusion, and racial equality for everyone each and every day of the year. In partnership with Ben Wilburn, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead at Bottle Rocket, we will bring attention to a different group of individuals inside Bottle Rocket and celebrate and honor their lived experiences.
Ben Wilburn (BW): I want to encourage a culture where we can bring our authentic selves to work – as much as we would like to, at least! Who are you outside of Bottle Rocket?
Brandon Hamilton (BH): When I’m not working, I have a myriad of interests. It’s most common to find me at a concert, hanging out with friends, or spending time with family. I’d say piano as well, but everyone already knows I enjoy piano. I don’t have any pets yet, but one day I want to have a husky. Everyone says they’re loud and a handful, but I think it would be okay. I mean, I’m loud and a handful.
BW: Tell me about your work experience. How did you find your way to Bottle Rocket? How did you know Bottle Rocket was a good fit?
BH: One day back in 2016, my mom mentioned this QA Bootcamp thing at some company called Bottle Rocket. I had no idea this company even existed at the time; I just thought it sounded interesting so I signed up for it. I ended up loving the experience and decided I wanted to come work here. I did not get an interview the first time, but I tried again at the start of 2018 and that was when I found my way here. I can’t explain why I felt like BR was a good fit, it just was.
Harvard Business Review notes that being Black in tech requires “mental toughness” with many Black professionals being the only person of color in the room. Does this resonate with you? If so, how does that impact your day-to-day?
I’m used to being the only person of color in the room. So this statement does resonate a bit because it can be a very distracting realization. That being said, it’s not something I let impact me much anymore. We have to do that and be able to throw the thought aside. That’s where mental toughness comes in.
BW: When you reflect on your experiences in the workplace, be it Bottle Rocket or otherwise, which has been the most formative for you? The good, the bad, and the ugly.
BH: I would say that my job before I came to Bottle Rocket was the most formative for me. Not only did it give me a clear idea of what I don’t want to do for a career, but helped me find the work ethic that has helped me to do well at Bottle Rocket.
BW: Finally, if I asked you, “what are two things people can do to support young Black professionals in the workplace right now” what would you say?
I do have two pieces of advice for young Black professionals: Don’t be afraid to be your most authentic self and to take up space. When I say take up space, I mean to have the confidence that you’re in the right place. Make yourself bigger than you think you should be, be outspoken, don’t feel intimidated that you’re the only Black person in the room. Have the confidence to make yourself known.
BW: Any side projects you want to plug?
BH: The charity recital! Everyone knows about it but I will plug it as often as I can! Everyone should RSVP as soon as possible, I have a great program of music lined up for it!