September 25, 2023

In the Driver’s Seat: Q&A with Darnell Lee, Director of People Operations

Meet Darnell and learn how his role at Social Driver has has a positive impact on the company culture

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Our Team

Welcome to In the Driver's Seat, the Social Driver Q&A series with members of our incredible team.

Darnell Lee, is a rockstar when it comes to operations, HR, and company culture. His positivity is infectious and his ability to create some many incredible benefits and policies landed Social Driver on Mogul's Top 100 Companies with Inclusive Benefits in 2022. Read on to learn more about Darnell, his contributions to Social Driver, and what makes it such a great place to work.

Name: Darnell Lee

Title: Director of People Operations

Location: Washington, DC

What do you do at Social Driver?

Well, here at Social Driver, I'm the Director of People Operations, and let me tell you, my first priority is our people! I help connect our team members with the resources, support, and opportunities to continue their personal and professional development. Whether it's finding the perfect candidate for a new role, ensuring everyone has access to their systems, or just making sure our work culture is thriving, I'm here to keep things running efficiently and smoothly.

What do you like about your specific job at Social Driver, your day-to-day, your role?

Every day is a new adventure. Whether it's brainstorming with our brilliant minds, organizing fun team-building events, putting together training workshops or screening new potential Drivers (candidates), I'm here for it all. And let me tell you, no two days are ever the same.

When you're working on a project, what do people usually come to you for help with or what are they typically looking for expertise in?
Around here, folks often swing by my “virtual” office for a variety of things. They come to me for strategic thinking, planning, executing, and implementing changes, operational needs and HR-related questions or concerns.  

But it's not all business. Sometimes, people just need to vent or share a laugh, and my remote door is always open for our team. Difficult challenges and circumstances occur in the workplace and I pride myself on being a voice that is supportive, encouraging and inspirational. I’m here to lend an ear, provide a virtual shoulder to lean on, and maybe even share a funny meme or two! 

Can you tell me about a particular project you've worked on recently that you enjoyed or are particularly proud of?

Certainly! Recently, I had the privilege of spearheading an initiative that brought a breath of fresh air to our Social Driver team. I called it "Fast Lane Fridays”!! Back in January, knowing that the summer months would be here before we knew it, I wanted to give our team members a chance to recharge and refocus their energy. So, I hatched a plan to grant them an early day off on certain Fridays throughout the summer.

The idea was to create a mini oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation. It wasn't just about time off; it was about fostering a work environment that promotes well-being and work-life balance. Watching our team embrace "Fast Lane Fridays" and come back on Mondays refreshed and ready to conquer new challenges has been incredibly rewarding. It's a testament to the power of innovative workplace initiatives that prioritize our team's self-care and productivity.

So, "Fast Lane Fridays" has definitely been a project close to my heart, and I'm incredibly proud of the positive impact it's had on Social Driver and I’m already looking for ways to innovate this initiative for Summer 2024! 

Do you consider yourself an expert in any specific area or skill related to your role?

Well, I wouldn't say I'm the ultimate "know-it-all" in any specific area, but I've certainly gathered a good deal of experience and skills over time that I bring to the table.

In my role, I've had the opportunity to dive deep into various aspects related to People & Operations and I'm always eager to continue learning and growing. I've had the privilege of collaborating with some incredibly talented folks who've shared their insights, and I've had my fair share of both successes and learning experiences over the years.

So, while I wouldn't claim to be the absolute expert in any one thing, I'm confident in my ability to contribute effectively and help guide our team!

What drew you to Social Driver, and why were you interested in working here?

It was definitely Leslie Albrecht, our VP of People & Operations. From our very first time speaking during my phone screen, I could sense that this was the perfect opportunity for me. Leslie and I instantly connected, and we shared a good laugh over our shared philosophy on managing people and operations. Her openness to embracing new initiatives, processes and ideas was the icing on the cake for me. It was clear that Social Driver was a place where innovation and collaboration were not just encouraged but celebrated, and that's exactly where I wanted to be.

What have been the highlights of your time at Social Driver so far?

So many…where do I begin? Let’s see… Introducing No Meeting Fridays once a month, of course, Fast Lane Fridays, as I’ve already mentioned. But also playing a part in expanding our benefits program to better support our team's needs. Revamping our recruitment and onboarding procedures to ensure a smooth and welcoming experience for new team members. And collaborating with our internal employee resource groups (BOLT & DEIJ) to create inclusive, collaborative, and, most importantly, fun events for our amazing team.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for someone considering joining Social Driver?

Absolutely! Joining Social Driver is a wild ride so buckle up! Just kidding… Here are a few tips from HR! 

Social Driver places a strong emphasis on our core values like “Putting people before everything else,” “believing we can do better,” and “going beyond what’s expected.” Make sure your own values align with the company's to ensure a perfect fit.

Help nurture our positive and inclusive workplace culture. Respect your colleagues, celebrate their achievements, and foster a supportive atmosphere.

And stay up-to-date with industry trends and developments. A well-informed team member is an asset to our clients and our organization.

Do you have a favorite Social Driver value?

I hate to sound cliché, but honestly, my favorite Social Driver value is “Putting people before everything else." It's not just a slogan here; it's the heartbeat of our organization. It's a reminder that, beyond all the projects and deadlines, it's the people – our team, clients, and community – who truly matter. It's a value that keeps us grounded, compassionate and focused on what's most important in our work and in life.

On a more personal note, what do you read, listen to, watch, or consume to feel inspired and motivated?

I find inspiration and motivation in a variety of ways. I'm a big fan of TED Talks; there's something about those concise, powerful talks that always sparks new ideas and perspectives. I also enjoy diving into leadership-related podcasts and resources to keep honing my skills and staying on top of industry trends.But it's not just about what I consume; it's also about staying connected with others in my field. Social media is an incredible way to engage with other professionals, share insights, and learn from their experiences. It's a dynamic resource to keep the inspiration flowing and stay motivated to keep pushing boundaries and making a positive impact.