Name: Michelle Garrison
Job / Title: Group Director, Corporate Applications Engineering
Industry: Software for Electronic Design (also known as Electronic Design Automation)
Q: What is the challenge that you are most proud of overcoming? Explain.
Michelle: I changed jobs at one point in my career in an attempt to shift to an industry that would allow me to move out of a particular high technology segment. Essentially, I switched from a product revenue producing role to an infrastructure role; it was a difficult environment where my values were not in alignment with the leadership of the organization. For three years I struggled to adjust to the environment, but found my nerves and self-value were shot as a result of the lack of alignment between my own values and that of the organization. I moved on, and into a role that has been extremely successful in an organization that meets my needs. I learned from that experience and took those lessons into my life in a positive way – I can even spot it in others and help them see that it may be time to move on.
Q: How have you grown your professional network? Explain.
Michelle: I changed positions about every 3-4 years. This allowed me to work with a wide variety of individuals over an extended period on time. This has been particularly useful at my current company because I am well known across many departments. This has been a huge advantage. I have volunteered for projects that span multiple groups, joined several women’s organizations and became involved in their programs, and pursued personal interests like cycling and soccer – all of which have further connected me across tech in Silicon Valley.
Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?
Michelle: Mentorship has always been informal in my career. I was fortunate to have various individuals take an interest in mentoring me. About six years ago, I joined a Leader Forum group of 7 women and we have remained intact. We meet monthly. This has been a great source of receiving perspective and insight from a variety of strong women in leadership roles. This experience was the inspiration for starting the Mentoring Circles within The CLUB.
Q: What is your recommendation for choosing a good mentor?
Michelle: Get clear about your goals. Think about what you want to accomplish and look for someone who has those skills or experiences you want to learn from. Don’t box yourself into one topic. You will find that if you select well, there will be much you can learn in the process.
Q: What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career?
Michelle: Vision, emotional intelligence, passion, drive for results and agility. The CEO of my company is an incredible visionary, guides the company toward the vision and is full of passion. Another great leader at my company has incredible business and technical acumen, coupled with emotional intelligence and driving for results. Both are wildly successful, but their skills are very different.
Q: What are ways that you have balanced career, personal, and other interests?
Michelle: I have always maintained a goal of balance in my life. After having my first child, I decided to make choices in my career that would support raising a family, yet provide career growth and challenges. I turned down a few opportunities and changed positions several times to ensure this goal was met. I also adopted a philosophy of protecting my weekend for personal time.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.
Michelle: I’ve become very active in bicycling over the past two years. It started with joining Team in Training when I signed up to ride 100 miles around Lake Tahoe and pledged to raise over $9,000 for cancer research. My last big fundraising event was bicycling 214 miles from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC over two days.
Michelle Garrison was selected for the 2015 CLUB Incubator program based on her extensive professional experience, unique philosophy on leadership and life. We’re delighted to learn from Michelle’s experience.