Name: Nicole Bartow
Job / Title: Senior Litigation and Labor Counsel
Company: Atmel Corporation
If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?
Don’t try to change who you are. Instead, emphasize and capitalize on your strengths. Determine how to use those strengths in the face of any given career challenge.
Why did you choose to be a lawyer?
I chose to be a lawyer after participating in speech and debate in high school. I enjoyed the process of learning and mastering a subject and then presenting it (and then repeating the process again and again with new topics). Plus, I love to win.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Find and fill a need – for example, mastering a substantive specialty and becoming the “go to” authority on the subject. Or, positioning yourself to fill an upcoming void (e.g., where leaders in one area will be retiring soon) so you are the natural “next wave” for that role. These strategic moves can make you indispensible and also offer the opportunity for rapid career advancement.
If you had it to do all over again is there one thing you would have changed?
I would have taken time off between college and law school to travel, work and accumulate diverse life experiences, rather than going “straight through.”
From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?
The explosion of the Internet of Things.
What has surprised you about your industry?
The dearth of women working in the industry, especially in technical and sales roles, and at the executive and board levels.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
I was very fortunate to find a great mentor in my third year at a firm. This person was a male partner in my group, and we worked very closely together for seven years (until we each took different career paths). He gave me a lot of responsibility on matters; much of the time I was in “sink or swim” situations, which are motivating for me. He also helped me navigate the large firm politics and was my champion at the firm.
Now that I have almost 20 years of experience of my own, I’m enjoying serving as a mentor, both to other lawyers (mostly through The CLUB’s mentoring opportunities) and to other non-lawyers in my organization. Serving as a mentor has increased my own confidence and awareness, as I’ve had to reflect on my own career and experiences and realize that I have a significant depth and breadth of experience.
What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career?
An ability to get others engaged and focused on achievement and providing their best effort; genuine appreciation for contributions; passion, drive and vision; integrity.
What advice would you give to someone looking to grow in her career while making time for her family?
Launch your career in a supportive environment; it’s hard enough to juggle multiple priorities without trying to do so in an unsupportive environment. Get good help on the home front and show your appreciation for that person/system (whether that is a spouse/partner who takes on a majority of household responsibilities or a dedicated nanny or daycare provider or something else). Outsource tasks that aren’t the highest/best use of your time – e.g., via Google Shopping Express, TaskRabbit, and other resources.
What are ways that you have balanced career, personal, and other interests?
I have declared certain priority items as “sacred” and schedule around those items, even when difficult to do so. Also, I have viewed the areas of career, personal and other interests as fluid, spending more time/effort in one area at certain times, but have reassessed regularly so that any “imbalance” doesn’t become the norm.
My first job was selling patio furniture.
I have been a Stanford Football season ticket holder for 22 years (Go Card!).
What do you like to do to unwind?
Exercise! I have a weekly workout schedule that covers strength, flexibility and cardio. These workouts are sacred to me – there are very few things that I will let disrupt this schedule. On the weekends, I enjoy walking The Dish and bike riding on the Stanford campus with my wife and three kids.