Khalil Corbin on how the arts helped shape him — and led to his communications career
Before joining Elastic, Khalil Corbin worked in the public sector, doing non-profit work with kids on probation — and writing for music blogs on the side. At Elastic®, he found an opportunity to write — and grow his career.
“I realized how much I enjoyed it, but I was looking for opportunities to expand my writing capabilities" ,Khalil says. “So I did some research and talked to my mentors and people I looked up to, to find a career that was closely aligned to my long-term career goals.”
That turned out to be communications. He previously led internal communications at another tech company before joining Elastic as a Senior Manager, HR Communications in late 2023. In his role, he works to educate Elasticians about all of HR’s initiatives across benefits and compensation, DE&I, recruiting, workplace, and more.
Khalil joined the company after discovering it through a friend that has worked here for five years.
“I knew about the Source Code,” he says. “But for me culture is to be experienced. Typically I’m the only Black man, or Black person, on my team.”
“I see As, YOU, Are lived out very consistently. That’s the one that is most inviting and helps emphasize the culture.”
As, YOU, Are is our Source Code tenet that emphasizes celebrating everyone’s differences and coming to work exactly as you are. As someone who is typically the ‘only’ on his team, this resonates with Khalil.
“I’m enjoying the open conversations. Especially with my leader, we can have those conversations. That’s something I really love about the culture.”
Part of Elastic’s celebrations of different people is the Blasticians ERG annual Black History Month events in February. This year, Khalil is helping to project manage some of the events, and will also be participating.
“It’s important to be celebrated and recognized,” he says. “I'm standing on the shoulders of those that fought for me to be here, in the same way we fought for women's rights.”
“When we acknowledge and recognize cultural months and celebrations, at least one new person can understand the impact — we’re a global company. One person can learn something new about why it's important.”
Elastic’s goal for Black History Month this year is: To educate internal and external audiences by showcasing the impact of art within African American culture and the African Diaspora.
For Khalil, the arts — music, in particular — have always been a big part of his life.
“The arts have been the thing that has helped me navigate life,” he says. “I picked up radio and music work because it’s my inspiration. Music was my safe place, and served as a tool that helped to expose me further than my circumstances when things were not great.”
It’s also a motivational tool for Khalil, who used the arts to motivate himself when he was playing sports in college.
“Music is part of warm ups; it helped me to prepare and stay disciplined,” he says. “I always looked at certain artists and saw how they got to the top of their game. It was some sort of discipline that got them there, and all I needed to do was follow the keys to success that the artist left behind in their songs.”
And it’s that discipline that helped Khalil take the leap into HR communications. That, and his mentors.
Khalil’s godmother is the Chief People Officer at a top company, he says, and she’s always served as a mentor to him.
“I saw her, as a Black woman, go from the military to getting her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and then climbing the ranks,” he says. “She’s someone who shows me that it’s possible to achieve your dream and grow from life’s circumstances.”
Khalil continues to stay disciplined — and give back. The arts helped shape that part of him, he says.
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