Getting to Yes, And

Ekpedeme "Pamay" Bassey: Improvising Sacred Spaces


Ekpedeme "Pamay" Bassey

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Kelly connects with the Chief Learning & Diversity Officer of Kraft Heinz, Ekpedeme "Pamay" Bassey about her time visiting a variety of sacred spaces, including her stint taking improv classes at The Second City. Her books Navigating Sacred Spaces, and Let’s Learn Our Way Through It, Shall We are available here.

You have talked about creating a culture of continuous learning and one of the words you use to describe that is ‘ownership.’

“One of our values at Kraft Heinz is "we own it." It really runs through the bloodline of the organization. And when you're talking about being a continuous learner that's something that comes from having a learning habit.  It comes from making a commitment to learn something new, every day, whether it's just for a few minutes and to share that with other people. So you really have to own your own learning and development.”

You wrote a book about a project you gave yourself to visit 52 different houses of worship in a year. What a learning experience that was.

“You never know what you're going to learn when you start. My 52 weeks of worship was based on a grief journey. I kind of was at the bottom of the bucket and I needed to figure out how people in different spaces figure out how to get out of bed in the morning. I wanted to understand what they believed about community and family and worship and all these things that people hold so dear. And what I ended up receiving was just gifts upon gifts learning about other people from different walks of life and learning about myself."

You studied improvisation at The Second City and then applied things like ensemble behavior into your work environment.

“When you're working in an ensemble, you're benefiting from this is my strength, this is your strength, let's work with each other. But also there's this feeling that, especially when we're walking through a situation that's new or novel or weird or challenging, that we have each other's backs. That is so much more powerful than being the shiny soldier who's hilarious and smart and knows all the things because that's not real.”

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