Roku Inc. Vice President, Global People Business Partner Ericka Tate embraces the support she’s found in other women.
By Ericka Tate, Photo by Jennifer Lindberg Studio
When I think about being a part of Austin’s community, gratitude is first on my mind. I first joined this community because I had a dream of something different for myself and my family. Despite the great life I was living in San Jose, California, I held a different value system than the community I was living in. I craved and wanted more. I was stuck in the race of only working for the best companies. Climbing the ladder of success quickly, remaining focused on getting more and more of the stuff that held little value to me; while deep inside, I knew that my values and my heart did not align to the community that I was in. I knew I had to make a change and lean into what was in my heart.
I wanted more family time, and I was not finding a job that matched my needs. Wanted to be present in my life and have my job as something I did, not who I was. And I wanted to stop making sacrifices for things that ultimately did not matter. I knew I needed to find a community more aligned with who I was. The journey I went on to make this change was not an easy one.
To most I had it “all.”
I worked for a great tech company, owned my own home in one of the most expensive places to live and had the world’s most adorable 9-year-old son. As a single woman, these were accomplishments like no other. Yet I dared to dream of a life that included my son walking to public school with his friends, like I did as a child. I dreamed of leaving work at 4 p.m. without judgment to make his basketball games and school performances. Dreamed of knowing my neighbors well and inviting them over for barbecues and birthday parties. I dreamed of moving to a place I could afford to live in and still travel and enjoy life while planning and saving for my retirement.
Thankfully, I found that in Austin. I found so many great and unexpected things that helped my dreams become my reality. I found people generally had interest in getting to know me and offering up advice on the best places to eat, shop and even a list of their favorite doctors. The community welcomed me, and I knew I had made the right decision. The city has a vibrant vibe, and I enjoyed exploring all that it had to offer. I knew that my values were more aligned with the Austin lifestyle, and this was the place for me to raise my son.
However, it didn’t take that long before I met some of the more unpleasant sides of this community. California, especially the Bay Area, is an extremely inclusive environment, but I learned that not all of Austin is the same. My son was confronted by a kid at school who made a racial threat against him; I faced coworkers who simply didn’t like me for no apparent reason. I know with the good comes the bad. But I wasn’t quite prepared for all of it.
Thankfully, I reached out to those who originally welcomed me. I found such reinforcement and solidarity in the women of Austin. They had my back, showed up for me. They supported me, not only with their words, but with their shared experiences. Since then, my community has grown with people from all over. But there is no loyalty; there is no helpfulness and no encouragement like what you receive from a woman from Austin. In my experience, they truly want to help and be there for their fellow woman. I’m not sure what I would do without them, and thankfully I don’t have to find out. Being an Austin woman means so much; I’m so grateful to count myself as a part of this incredible community.