Ambitious fourth-year students at University of California Berkeley, Sean Drimmel and Jeff Li, both Business Administration majors, always knew they wanted to find the connection between the business world, where they hoped to establish their careers, and their gay identities.
Drimmel, now a consultant at Capgemini Consulting, and Li, who does Financial Services at Ernst and Young, have already found success, but wanted to help other aspiring LGBT professionals find their dream job.
That’s when a conversation between the two friends turned into an idea, leading them to join forces to create Out 4 Business, a campus organization that aims to inspire and develop the next generation of LGBT professionals at Berkeley with 50 active members and growing.
429Mag: How did Out 4 Business begin?
Sean Drimmel: I knew I wanted to do something with the gay and business community. Until now I had only done things that represented one or the other.
Jeff Li: For me it was a few things. For one, I wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality coming to Berkeley. I wasn’t out and needed more role models. Then I stumbled across Queer at Hass, which is the graduate version of Out 4 Business. I was told only MBA (Masters of Business Administration) students could join their organization. So I networked and decided to create something on my own. A major catalyst was a career panel I attended. In spring 2012, I started entertaining the idea of creating my own organization, and last June, committed to doing it.
429Mag: What kinds of services does Out 4 Business offer?
Drimmel: We do work shops with professors and company tours…
Li: We also do company relations; research which ones are LGBT friendly, what assets LGBT people bring to the table. We provide resources and training to students who are interested in business and broader LGBT social issues. For example, how do you feel comfortable in the work place and why is it important to be open. We learn how to voice these issues and bring them to the table.
429Mag: What is a concern that an LGBT professional might have?
Drimmel: For example, whether or not to put gay on their resume. We tell them to do what makes them comfortable. We want to empower LGBT people.
429Mag: Can you give an example of a success story of one of your members?
Drimmel: Jeff’s intern, Blake, came to him and expressed he was interested in business, but had little contacts. Blake knew he wanted to do something related to healthcare and business—but on the corporate side. We taught him how to write a resume, network, and talk to professionals. He eventually landed a position at Price Water House Coopers, one of the big four accounting firms, and now he’s doing advisory.
Li: Our members, who wouldn’t necessarily have the contacts, have gone on to interview at Delooitte, Pandora, and dot429.
429Mag: What were the challenges of starting your own organization? How did you promote it?
Drimmel: The name and logo were difficult to come up with. The name in particular because we wanted something inclusive that would reach out to the audience that we wanted to have.
Li: For promotion we reached out to faculty professors, minority businesses, different organizations. We were featured in The Huffington Post, Echelon and The Bay Area Reporter.
429Mag: What’s next for the organization?
Drimmel: We’re doing a panel in April about LGBT rights in the work place with a broad representation of companies such as Google, Facebook, Visa, and Safeway.
Li: Right now we’re focused on staying on top of communication and sharing the cause with people. Once we got the ball rolling, people were hearing about us and companies were reaching out to us that didn’t even know that we existed. They wanted to help and sponsor us. It makes us proud.