EMBA Student Mona Khalil, From Tesla to Inclusion Recruiting at Linkedin

EMBA student Mona Khalil Mission District San Francisco

What things influence who you are? Can any of those things make you feel powerful and/or powerless? During presentations about her journey to her current role of Senior Program Manager for Inclusion Recruiting at LinkedIn, EMBA candidate Mona Khalil asks these questions of her audience. 

Part of Khalil’s current role involves building strategies, consulting, and aligning cross-functional teams on diverse hiring.  She examines questions such as: What does it mean to be acknowledged in this community? Who is not represented here?

“While at all these companies, I kept asking myself, after all this labor, what makes me invisible in this environment? 

While at Tesla, she founded and served as president for Tesla’s Intersectionality  Employee Resource Group (ERG), whose mission is to promote personal empowerment for individuals where the social categorization of (mixed) race, class, gender, age, sexuality, ability, and other characteristics meet. The advocacy group aims at empowering employees to show up to work as their whole self, without deconstructing their identity to achieve professional and social workplace equality. 

Khalil’s path to a professional career, then back to school for her Executive MBA is a direct result of her hard work. In addition to creating an employee advocacy group, she acquired an advanced project management certificate at Stanford while at Tesla working as a Sr. Project Manager for Global Business Operations.

Now at LinkedIn, Khalil’s vision also aligns with the company vision—to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Khalil grew up Guyanese-Egyptian in Los Angeles, first-generation American. Experiencing both exclusion and inclusion within social groups separated by race, she fought to leverage the Puente program for Mexican-American/Latino students, which served as a resource to increase college enrollment for Latina students in her high school. Khalil also attended the University of California-- San Diego, then volunteered for the Peace Corp, traveling to Morocco to serve.

While at Tesla, Khalil was mentored by Warsan Shire, a British writer, poet, editor and teacher born to Somali parents in Kenya, East Africa. Shire, who wrote the poetry for Beyonce's visual album "Lemonade," encouraged Khalil to publish her own poems first book. Khalil uses her poetry book, "I Write Letters in My Thoughts," as a talking piece to share her unique experience and encourage others to break systemic cycles of silence and trauma in order to pursue their education and careers. 

In advocating for historically underserved communities, Khalil is on a mission for social justice that speaks to the Lasallian roots of Saint Mary’s College. Founder John Baptist De La Salle lived during a time of great social struggle during the reign of King Louis XIV, "The Sun King," in Paris in the late 1600s. He did not have a map for his future journey.  Because of his hard work within the existing social structures in Paris at the time—including Catholic institutions and schools—many poor children who would not have otherwise had an education were able to navigate societal systems that were not built for their success. Like De La Salle, Khalil is a trailblazer. With no road map to show her the path, she has taken many risks.

“Whereas I'm very technical, Mona sees things from a global perspective. She helps you see things with a broader view,” said EMBA student Rolf Guntert, executive vice president, Sales, Guntert and Zimmerman. Guntert serves the student body with Khalil as a class representative for their cohort. 

"I'm a huge proponent of advocating for the black community, and the latinx community, and the LGBTQ+ community. Even though I don't identify as these communities, they mean so much to me. But then it also makes me step back and ask, "Well, who's your community? My way of creating that was through an Intersectionality ERG because I can't isolate my identity, and the way we talk about diversity is this constant isolation, said Khalil.

Khalil's mother was born in England. Shortly after, she was raised by her grandparents in Guyana before returning to England to pursue her formal education. Her mother’s family moved to Canada before making their way the U.S. Khalil’s father moved to the U.S. on his own, working in a factory to start.

“My parents met in Los Angeles and got married. The plan was to have my father pursue his education while my mother was the financial breadwinner. The plan was they would later switch so my mother could pursue her education," said Khalil. “This never happened.”

Khalil's work falls in line with the College's core Lasallian values of inclusion and speaking up for those who don’t have the privilege of doing so. When Khalil speaks, she commands the room. Her personality uplifts and inspires. She is vulnerable, honest and brave in advocating for those who may get hurt by speaking up within existing power structures. 

"There are many chains in my family I want to break.  I am not just doing this for me," said Khalil. "I'm not doing this just for my grandmother or my mother who were once in similar situations. They both are women who put their head down and don’t speak up, because they don't want to ruffle feathers, they know there are consequences to speaking up. I’ve become the complete opposite of them well aware the ramifications still apply to me.

"I know that by being quiet, I'm not helping anybody. I want to do the work that helps liberate, so getting people to write, getting people to hear other people's story, getting people to share."

“Mona Khalil is a true Gael. She cares deeply about serving the needs of others; she is a creative and articulate individual, a poet. Mona is also a fun and engaging personality, and we are very proud of her work on inclusion recruiting at LinkedIn,” said Professor Natasha Munshi, Executive MBA program director.