Growing within your career is not guaranteed but like many senior professionals, you have to start somewhere. Jerome Wright, Director of Reds Youth Academy, proves that diligence and persistence are key components to leveling up in your career.
Jerome got his start with the Cincinnati Reds as an intern working in the Reds Community Fund. He was tasked with leading community outreach and providing support during youth programs. 10 years later and he’s managed to leave an impressive mark with the Reds team that has earned him a position where he is able to make decisions and build programs that best benefit the community. However, reaching his role as the director of the academy was not an easy journey. “In sports, I’ve noticed that they rarely hire externally,” said Wright. “Which is why it was important for me to work hard and keep my head down when I first started at the Reds.” One of Jerome’s most valuable lessons has been pushing to always be the hardest working person in any room he’s in, which has constantly set him apart.
It’s evident that self-doubt can deter anyone from success or it can hold you back from reaching your full potential. Jerome was able to overcome this barrier, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took years for him to gather the courage to speak up and use his skills to build actionable solutions within the organization. “When I was in college, I was mister popular, I was confident,” said Wright. “When I got into the work environment, due to lack of experience, I was shy. I wish I would have immersed myself earlier and showed my skill set, my personality, and have been authentic to myself early on.”
Fast forward to three promotions later and Jerome has become one of the most vocal people in the room, challenging people when he disagrees and sharing his expertise. Now, Jerome uses his voice to support MLB’s diversity initiatives and acting as a clear example of why diversity is important. As the company continues to grow, so does their understanding of the importance of diverse opinions. “I think it’s important for someone in my role to truly be investing and giving back to the community.” said Wright. “Working as a minority within the MLB, it’s important for me to give back and offer help. Any qualified person, male or female, black or white—I want to help them find a place on our team.”
Getting a solid job opportunity at any age is quite the accomplishment, especially for a young Black man. Jerome tries his best to answer every cold email and every LinkedIn message that he receives regarding opportunities with the MLB. Building a network for young people and people of color remains a large part of his career, which is what keeps him so invested in his role with the Reds.