Tony Boyle had big dreams when he moved to New York City from Guyana in seventh grade. He wanted to become a highly successful businessman and knew exactly what it would look like when he achieved his dreams.
“I had a grandiose dream moving from a third-world country to America,” said Boyle. “I saw success as working in a skyscraper on the highest floor possible, and I wanted my parents to have to go through security when they came to visit me.”
More than 20 years later, Boyle, now an experienced executive having worked for the likes of Google and Facebook, is living his dream. His career has taken him from a college internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car to recruiting high-end executives for Google. He also grew a team of 20 employees to over 300 at Facebook in response to the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
But it didn’t come easy. When Boyle first moved to New York he struggled to adjust to his new surroundings. “I had braces and a Caribbean accent and all of the worst things you could have trying to assimilate,” he said. A few years later, he was introduced to Delores Roberts, a CFES Brilliant Pathways liaison at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem, and was assigned a senior mentor. He learned about the college and career readiness process and became enamored with CFES’ focus on leadership in the form of public speaking.
“I felt that public speaking was going to be really important since I wanted to be in business,” said Boyle. “I saw it as an awesome opportunity to develop a skill that I knew was going to be essential. CFES gave me leadership, mentoring and presentation skills. The six skills they teach are super essential. They are the right combination for a great leader and for someone to be successful in general in life.”
Boyle eventually became a mentor himself and spoke to younger students about SATs, took them on college tours and helped them fill out college applications. In retrospect, being part of CFES and other programs kept him focused on his postsecondary goals and played a key part in helping him get into Marist College.
“The neighborhood around Wadleigh wasn’t that great and I was fortunate to not get into any serious trouble,” said Boyle, who graduated from Wadleigh in 2008. Having CFES really allowed me to focus on schoolwork and not all the other bad stuff that you can get into in high school. If it wasn’t for CFES, I would have gone down a whole different path of life, so I am very happy I was part of them.”
While at Marist, Boyle found himself revisiting Essential Skills like perseverance and networking when he found himself on academic probation. He started going to office hours, tutoring sessions and the writing center. “It wasn’t easy, but once I tapped into the available resources I did much better. It’s a system that you need to navigate; once you develop a formula, you replicate it every time just like when you start a job.”
That formula worked well for Boyle at his next five jobs and at Regis College where he graduated with a master’s degree in marketing and a 3.97 GPA. Just as he envisioned back in middle school, he moved to a higher floor with each promotion. He almost passed on an offer to work as a technical recruiter for global giant TEKsystems because his office was on the second floor.
“I was like, ‘this isn’t high enough,’” said Boyle who supported financial firms such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase as a recruiter and account manager. “But they paid me $14,000 more than my previous salary, plus commission.” It wasn’t long before he was promoted, followed by another promotion three years later. “They moved me to the 12th floor, so I was like this high enough for now.”
Yet, it never seemed quite high enough. After eight years of experience in agencies and big tech, Boyle took a job with BigSpring, an AI powered work readiness platform, followed by his current position at Google as executive research recruiter. All the while, he managed to earn certificates in Digital Marketing from Cornell; Diversity, Recruiting, Inclusive Leadership and Unconscious Bias from LinkedIn; and in Executive Coaching from NYU, among others.
As he looks back on his career and the support and mentorship he’s received along the way, Boyle says he’s ready to start paying it forward on a higher level. He plans to draw on his experiences at Wadleigh as a CFES Scholar and to his current job at Google to show young people how Essential Skills and mentorship are relevant for life.
“My first two months working at Google were the worst ever because I felt that I wasn’t as good as the team I was working with,” said Boyle. “I didn’t know if I could actually do the job. I felt sick to my stomach every day for at least two months even though I had plenty of experience.”
Boyle said he found a mentor at Google and sought feedback every two weeks, which gave him ideas for how to improve. He also set smaller, attainable goals for himself that boosted his confidence. “Everyone starts at zero. Even the people at the top had mentors, coaches, advisors, people they relied on. You just need to build the right network around you with people who support you, and you will get to where you need to be.”
Boyle says he’s now focused on transitioning into positions that support diverse hires as a human resources business partner (HRBP) or as a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) program manager.
“People in these positions are heavily focused on attracting, retaining and promoting a diverse workforce, and that’s something that I’m super passionate about,” says Boyle. “I’ve been in rooms where I’m the only black person in it. It can be especially daunting for someone starting a new job and they are the only diverse person in the room. My goal is to make sure that the experience I felt – and sometimes still feel – isn’t as crippling for them and to ensure that we are setting them up for success.”