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How this Head of Business Operations Management problem-solves in her everyday life

by christinecauthen

Bari A. Williams will be speaking at EmpowerHer17. Don't miss a moment! Buy tickets here.

“I’m someone who, if I need to figure out how to do something, I think, ‘How do I back into it?’ I ask what are the things I need to break down in order to reach an overarching goal and back into something rather than just look at it and say ‘Oh, this is where i want to go,’” says Bari A. Williams, Head of Business Operations Management, North America at Stubhub. “I look at the requirements and how to acquire the skill or expertise to get there. I’m a planner. It’s hard for me to live outside of a plan.”

Consequently, Bari has a plan for everything. And her excellent planning skills have helped her to keep balance, happiness and time for the things that matter to her in check.

She’s naturally a problem solver and holds an MBA and a JD. She knew for a long time that because of this she wanted to practice law, but she also wanted to be prepared for any challenge in a business. Bari realized that having both degrees would allow her to do that. Having that law degree gives her a different vantage point when it comes to finding solutions to problems. It allows her to craft those solutions and to know what problems to avoid.

In her career, Bari assesses things to figure out what’s broken and then figures out what would be the best solution and what are the resources (people, processes, product) needed to fix it.

“I just really like problem-solving,” she says, “I think the larger issue for me is law is one way to do it. but those issues can be kind of confining. In business, the basis of everything is legal, contractual or policy, but the crux of how you solve something can be larger problem-solving. For me, it was more important to take the analytical piece and apply it to business to drive impact. Whether that’s revenue or whatever, you want to be more proactive rather than reactive.”

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Off-days

Outside of work, Bari is a huge fan of sports and music — “Anything that provides a live sporting or music experience,” she says.

“I’m a hometown fan, so I’m a Golden State Warriors and Raiders fan. I have been my entire life — so I’m heartbroken they’re both leaving in 2019,” she says.

And as far as music goes, “Who doesn’t love Beyoncé?” she asks, “I went to the On The Run tour, had tickets last year, I was even going to go to Coachella. I love Kendrick, too. And I love Drake. I’m one of those people who really, really loves Drake. I saw him four times at the Summer Sixteen Tour.”

For her, it’s important to make sure she’s building in time for what she needs to do — whatever that might be.

And squeezing in time for these things and more requires one very important tool for Bari and her family.

“I live and die by a shared Google Calendar with my husband,” she says, “We have a good sense of who will do what on a day-to-day basis. Whether that’s what I’m doing after work or what our kids are involved in, we have a pretty set understanding of ‘This is how we’re splitting responsibilities,’ and anything outside of that is easily coordinated. I’m someone who deals well with structure.”

The Daily Grind

In the mornings, Bari wakes up before everyone else in her house and uses that time to be still and quiet, go to the gym, read a book or to just watch some TV. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she’ll wake up around 4:30 a.m. The early mornings work for her because it’s a time when she can do something for herself when no one else is looking for her. She’ll typically go to the gym, because that’s a positive way to start her day.

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She’ll get dressed, head to the gym by 5 a.m., work out about an hour, come home around 6:15 a.m. and hop in the shower. Depending on how hard she went in the gym, she’ll wash her hair and then use the Mielle Organics Bassau Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner to melt her tangles and keep her scalp healthy and tingly about two times a week. It’s one of her holy grail products because it makes finger combing her hair easy. Then she’ll finish getting dressed and either add the same brand’s Avocado Moisturizing Hair Milk to her hair and will either wear it down or put it in a bun.

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On her super dry skin, she uses Neutrogena’s Deep Moisture Cream during the day, which has SPF 20 to protect her against the sunburn she gets. She uses a Dermadoctor Wrinkle Revenge scrub on her face twice a week. She’s not a huge makeup person, though. She fills in her eyebrows with Soap and Glory’s Brow Sculpting Crayon and Gel, puts on tinted lipgloss and goes.

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When she’s at the gym, Bari works with a trainer who also does meal prep. She ends up spending $90 and she’ll get a week’s worth of additional meals from the program that she uses for lunch. That way, she’s not spending extra money and she knows that she’s getting something that tastes good, is healthy and is properly portioned. She drinks water all day long to stay hydrated and to ward off false signs of hunger. Because she’s competitive about games, she turns drinking her 1.5-liter water bottle into a challenge — she’ll play “how long will it take me to drink this whole thing today,” even if that means she’s got to use some of the water to make green tea to switch it up.

After work, Bari picks her kids up from school. During the day sometimes she’ll figure out what they’ll eat for dinner — then when she gets home she has just a few priorities: “How can I get my kids fed, how can I help them decompress, but keep them occupied and entertained, and how can I decompress?”

“My mom was good about messaging to me that it’s like the kids have been at work all day too when they’ve got a full day of school,” she says, “This is a time for them to come home and unwind. My daughter is all about playing in her clothes, my heels and wanting to turn on music and dance. So I have to figure out how to get her fed and still give her time to do that. My son likes word games, so I try to make sure they have free time until their bedtimes (7:30pm for her, 8:30 p.m for him), and then I do what I need to do for the next 2.5 hours before I need to go to bed. Sometimes that’s watching TV, sometimes it’s finishing up work, sometimes it’s writing, but it’s almost always spending time with my husband.”

The Bottom Line

“I feel like, particularly as black women, we’ve watched our foremothers strap on capes and be everything for all people. The majority probably did a bad job of showing self-care, at least in my house.”

But for Bari, she insists on taking time in the morning to figure out what she needs — sometimes that’s hitting snooze and skipping the gym, sometimes it’s reading an article, and sometimes it’s clearing her DVR and binging TV. One morning recently she even sat and watched half of Lemonade before work because that’s just what she needed that morning.

And that’s something we all could learn from.