“It's been a fantastic journey for me. There's been so, so much opportunity that's been provided to me."
When he was younger, Darnell didn't envision a leadership path for himself. But as he grew older, he realized the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities he received.
A UPMC employee for over 15 years, Darnell has gone from an entry-level position to the senior director of Environmental Services. And it all began because he received support from his first director and other members of leadership to advance his career.
"They really did take an interest in my aspirations to move up as a leader and take on more responsibility," Darnell says. "That's something that I could probably never thank them enough for because I don't know where I would be if I was never really given that opportunity."
Darnell has moved steadily up through the organization over the years, holding various positions of leadership. He took on his current role in November 2021. He oversees waste management, sanitation, and cleanliness in UPMC hospitals.
As a leader, Darnell tries to be genuine as he relates to employees. He believes his own experience of coming up through the ranks helps him do that.
"It kind of gives me perspective to be able to more empathetically relate to the struggles, the plight of some of our employees, and what they have to deal with on a daily basis," he says.
Darnell grew up in western Pennsylvania and is thankful for the support he received from his family to end up at UPMC. In addition to getting the chance to pursue leadership opportunities, Darnell also took advantage of UPMC's tuition reimbursement program. It allowed him to finish his bachelor's degree and earn a master's degree.
He now recommends the tuition reimbursement program to UPMC employees who want to further their education.
"The cost of tuition, it's really, really challenging right now when you're looking to make the decision to go to school or back to school," he says. "So, I always make sure that that benefit is kind of at the forefront of that conversation because it was extremely helpful for me."
After 15 years at UPMC, Darnell says he's still looking to grow and learn more. He's thankful for his family as well as the mentors he's had who supported him along his journey. And now he's paying it forward by mentoring people both inside and outside of UPMC.
"It's truly a privilege to mentor someone," he says. I was mentored, and now that I have the opportunity to have a mentee, I think it's fantastic that I have the ability to kind of give back to someone else and provide my insight and my experiences that I've gone through."
With the right drive and support, Darnell believes anyone can become a leader. He's glad he had to work at an organization that gave him — and continues to give him — that opportunity.
"UPMC is a part of who I am," Darnell says. "The values that we have are built in now into my own personal character as an individual, as a leader, as a father. So I can't separate the two at this stage. I'm proud of what we do. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish. And I'm proud of the offering that the organization gives, not only to our patients but also our staff members."
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means allowing our employees the opportunity to grow.
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