Titans are leaders. Shakura Salahaladyn is a bright, shining example.
A 2018 graduate, Salahaladyn earned a bachelor’s degree in interactive web management after a distinguished four years at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. During that time, the McNair Scholar earned the African American Student Leadership Award and was president of the Multicultural Education Coalition.
The first-generation college student and Milwaukee-area native is now working as a systems analyst in digital development and operations for corporate information technology at Kohler Co., the Wisconsin-based manufacturer that employs more than 35,000 people worldwide.
With a few of her colleagues, she helped launch the Kohler BLK Catalyst. BLK Catalyst (pronounced as Black Catalyst) is a business resource group now with a leadership team of nine. The effort began earlier this year and, despite the interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, has Salahaladyn looking back with amazement of what’s been accomplished in such a short time.
“The leadership team is comprised of nine people. After our kickoff event we had about 150 people interested,” she said. “There are people who are black who wanted to be part of the ERG. There are other nonblack people who just want to be super active. Then there are others who are people who just want to be educated, progress on their journey to become an ally to the black community.”
The centerpiece of the group’s mission statement is a strive “to make Kohler a more diverse and inclusive workplace by increasing black employment and upward mobility at all levels of the company.” This is done through a variety of events and endeavors, from film discussions to fundraisers to gatherings with other like-minded groups and community organizations.
Goals include educating the Kohler workforce, making the company more diverse by increasing black employment and upward mobility, strengthening the community outside of the walls of Kohler facilities and more.
Along with one of its founding members, Salahaladyn is BLK Catalyst’s vice president. She traces her ability to take on such a responsibility right back to her days on the Oshkosh campus.
“I took a lot of the skills from (UW) Oshkosh and my extracurricular activities there, like just being a leader,” she said. “Extracurricular activities are about more than the social aspect of college–these skills carry you far. They don’t go away. That experience and that work is invaluable.”
Though still early in her career, she’s learned just how important skills picked up outside the classroom can be after graduation. That’s a message she said she’d most want to convey to Titans working their way through this fall semester.
“Those other personal leadership-building skills, that’s the stuff that really carries you far. That’s what makes you stand out from the next person with the 4.0 GPA,” she said. “You can sit in class and learn everything you need to know, but trust me, these companies are looking for someone who is more well-rounded.
“These companies can teach you the technical skills, they can pay for you to go to this training, they can pay for you to get your masters, but they cannot teach you to be an effective leader. They can’t teach that.”