Black History Month Q&A with Yvonne Scott

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans’ accomplishments and a time for appreciating critical contributions to U.S. history. To mark the occasion, we are featuring several of our African American employees at Sema4. Yvonne Scott, Senior Payroll Manager, delves into the intricacies of payroll in the Human Resources function, why Black History should be celebrated year-round, and more. Read the previous installments of this series by clicking here and here.

What is your role at Sema4?

I am the Senior Payroll Manager within Sema4’s Human Resources Department. My role consists of managing all the components of the payroll process for the entire employee population at Sema4.

What motivates you to work at Sema4?

I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power, and I believe that Sema4 empowers patients by providing them with knowledge through advanced research, testing, and developmental data mechanisms. One that is super important to me is Sema4’s Expanded Carrier Screening because that test alone allows individuals to have the foundation of obtaining informational data specific to their lineage. I really appreciate working at Sema4 because it does not settle for the norm, which is mostly what moved me to want to be here. Sema4 is innovative and breaks past scientific barriers, as it provides patients with timely proven data in a manner that’s understandable, allowing them to chart out their best treatment plans backed by the data.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History is super special to me because it allows everyone (regardless of race) to have an insight into the many contributions that our African American ancestors have made to this country throughout the years. It also gives us the opportunity to applaud the achievements of our Black African Americans, those that we know of, those that are unheard of, and those who have gotten forgotten despite the difficulties they faced.

How do you celebrate/embrace Black History Month every year?

During Black History Month, my family members and I pick a person from Black History, and we conduct research and exchange information about their story. In addition, we try to implement some of the special meals and recipes from our ancestors in our daily routines, and we wear a certain type of clothing in remembrance as a way of embracing our culture. I truly believe that Black History should be celebrated throughout the year, as it provides people (regardless of race or ethnicity) a chance to build a genuine sense of empathy beyond their struggles, triumphs, and daily practices. The Black and African American ancestors’ history should serve as a staple to break the racial divide once-for-all and embrace humanity in its entirety.

What barriers have you had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

I would not consider them barriers. I would look at them as stumbling blocks that I’ve encountered because a barrier is something that prevents movement from one place to another, but I do not feel like I’ve been limited in terms of movement. Hard work, dedication, and ambition are key tools that I carry with me daily as constant reminders that all things are possible. I never settle for less. I’m constantly striving for the best because that has essentially moved many mountains throughout my career.

Can you tell us about a role model who has inspired you?

Ruby Bridges is an African American civil rights activist whom I truly admire and is an inspiration to me. She was a six-year-old, young black female who was enrolled into an all-Caucasian elementary school after being one of six children to pass the entry exam. I can’t imagine how scary and difficult that must have been for her at such a young age, given she had four federal U.S. marshals escorting her to and from school every day. Her bravery is truly inspirational to me because, despite the challenges she faced, she pressed forward and built strength and character all in the face of adversity.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career like yours?

I would advise individuals to want to be well-trained, learn how complex businesses operate, and ensure that they can troubleshoot and resolve intricate projects they may be tasked with. They should build strong leadership skills, paired with excellent soft skills, which will help them adapt to a wide range of people in the industry of their choice. For my role, I would also encourage them to learn as many payroll systems as they can, along with payroll compliance, and build additional technical expertise along the way. My ultimate advice would be never to take anything personally when dealing with individuals and always think outside the box, as there is never a straight line in payroll.

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