It takes guts to chase your dreams. But for Shaunelle Chester, it can take a whole lot more than that to reach them.
Her dreams took her from her home in London all the way to Newark, New Jersey, when she was just 19 years old to pursue a career in marketing. That leap of faith was only the beginning, though — to succeed, it would take hard work. To adapt to a different country and its educational system, Chester had to start at square one.
She had to enroll in a community college to prepare for the SATs, an American college admissions exam that was new to her because in the United Kingdom, the university application process is based on different exams. While she studied, she also had to work full-time to support herself and build up her resume.
Even after two years of working hard in to earn a scholarship to Rutgers University, she still had farther to go on the path to achieve her dreams. She wasn’t like most of her peers at Rutgers — not only was she a few years older, but she was also completely new to being a student in the U.S.
So when she decided to apply for an internship at Unilever before her senior year, she worried that someone with a higher GPA would get it instead. But the application process turned out to be nothing like she expected.
That’s because Unilever uses a unique tool — a pymetrics assessment — during their hiring process.
In the same way that something like Netflix uses data science to offer someone personalized recommendations, pymetrics uses neuroscience and data to help new recruits connect with jobs they’re most likely to succeed in.
Rather than making a judgment call based on a resume, pymetrics uses games to assess a candidate’s inherent cognitive and emotional traits — like planning and risk-taking — allowing applicants to connect with their passions and demonstrate their strengths.
For someone like Chester, whose background isn’t exactly traditional, this allows the applicant to get on equal footing with their peers.
Getting diverse applicants a foot in the door was actually the whole reason pymetrics was invented.
Dr. Frida Polli started out as a neuroscientist, but she decided to switch paths and attend business school. As a 38-year-old mom, she didn’t fit the mold of the typical MBA student even though she knew she had something unique to bring to the table.
“My 30-page-plus academic resume told me nothing about what I could do in the business world, let alone that I could be a tech entrepreneur,” she says on the website.
Using her neuroscience savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, she created pymetrics as a way of leveling the playing field. And with the help of The Rockefeller Foundation, pymetrics is continuing to expand its impact to include at-risk youth as well.
It’s working, too. “Blind” hiring processes, like those being created by pymetrics, are creating new possibilities for applicants who might otherwise be overlooked. In fact, many of the companies that use these tools are more diverse than ever before.
It’s also helping students looking to delve into new career paths expand their horizons. After her assessment, Chester was able to connect with a role at Unilever that was the perfect fit. It was a role focused on food solutions and meeting consumer needs — a job that she hadn’t even considered, let alone heard of.
This tool would ultimately set Chester on the right path. Her enthusiasm and drive as an intern made a real impression; upon graduation, she secured a full-time job offer, finally embarking on the marketing career that she could only dream of years ago as a teenager in London.
No matter where you’re from or who you are, we each have a unique set of talents to offer the world.
While a resume could tell you where Chester had been, no resume could capture where she was capable of going. A tool like this made all the difference, opening doors that might have otherwise remained closed.
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot — or will not.