What was the most significant moment in your career?
I had been a VP of Marketing at a very small startup and was suddenly being heavily recruited for the much larger role of General Manager of the Americas for a company five times as large. I felt overwhelmed by the opportunity and the need to make a good decision, and was faced with doubt about my abilities to step up. I called a longtime friend and mentor who had also transitioned from VP Marketing to GM (and then to President) and spoke the truth: “I’m not qualified to be a GM.” I will never forget his response. In about 10 words, I recognized a fundamental difference in how men and women tackle these types of life-changing events. He said simply, “No one is ever qualified for their first GM role.” I forgot my hesitation, took the role and have never, ever regretted it.
Why did you join Inflection?
During the interview process at Inflection, I was so very impressed by the caliber of people – not just the “what” they’re doing, but also the “how.” Accomplishing, growing, inventing, building – these are incredibly motivational and wonderful to experience at a company. But, when you can do this from within a context of creating real, meaningful, and positive change in the world, when your values align so tightly with the values of your leadership, that opportunity is too important to pass up.
What advice would you give to a woman who is considering pursuing a career in your field?
I would advise women, regardless of career field, to find trusted, accessible advisers, both within their ideal industry and outside of it. These advisers don’t need necessarily to be full mentors, but must be able to effectively and honestly listen, understand your worth, and then advocate on your behalf. These advisers should be well connected and often called on for their advice so that when opportunities arise, your name is the first on their lips.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Conflict does not have to be bad. If you can approach the conflict with empathy, truly listen, and keep solutions in mind, you are likely to find a better approach than simply forcing people to do what you want.
Interested in working on Michele’s team at Inflection?
Check out our open positions.