At Armoire, we’re casting a spotlight on some of the notable, powerful boss ladies in our community, and what being a boss lady means to them. Read on to learn all about Armoire member, Megan Gustafson Melloy.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Megan Gustafson Melloy and I work at Microsoft as Program Manager/Product Owner. Right now, I own a citizen developer program and an internal tool for how Microsoft launches products.
How do you see yourself redefining women who work?
I have a habit of minimizing my accomplishments, looking for what is next instead of realizing how hard I’ve worked, what I accomplished, and how persistent I had to be to get there. I’m learning that I have overcome many obstacles working in tech. For example, I was once told I wasn’t qualified because of lacking a specific certification. The interviewer then hired their male friend, who also did not have the certification, for the job.
For me redefining my work means continuing to improve myself. Take a class, a certification or even do a little extra work to prove ‘I’m the one to bet on.’ I think if I continue to invest in myself, the future will take me to new places in my career.
What is it like to be a woman working in tech?
Being a woman in tech leads to more visibility with your successes and failures. Every risk comes with the chance for success or potential failure. Recently, I took a big risk and it paid off, but it culminated all my learning from less successful projects to make this one successful.
I keep tabs on how aggressive I am becoming in the workplace and how I am adapting to the culture versus being my authentic self. Over the years, I have realized I can’t know everything, but I can be very well prepared. We all have 24 hours in a day; I think it matters how I prioritize them.
What is the most challenging part about your work and what inspires you to push through?
I am adjusting my viewpoint on what my work product looks like and what success looks like. I think every woman in tech should have someone (for me it is a male mentor) you can have authentic trust with. You need to comfortable being vulnerable with this person so you can have open and honest discussions about what is working and what is not. This has really helped me to push through some of the toughest parts of being a woman in tech.
Who’s your boss lady inspiration?
As a child, I idealized Gloria Steinem. I have her book The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It Will Piss You Off sitting on my nightstand… ready to read when I somehow find the time. We have two women at Microsoft in my larger team Mary Ellen Smith, Corporate Vice President, and Nathalie D’Hers, General Manager, who inspire me on a day to day basis. They both act as a daily role model of what a woman in technology leadership can do. I admire how they consciously care about their work.
What’s your secret to managing work/life balance?
When I am 90% work and 10% life, the pendulum always seems to swing the other direction and suddenly 10% work and 90% life is important. Recently, I had a product launch that felt like a marathon. I learned I need to tell people I care about when my focus needs to be on work. That way they’ll understand I wasn’t ignoring them or caring less, just busy. I haven’t mastered 50/50 quite yet. To be honest, I’m not sure I want to.
Another important thing I learned about myself is that I need full recovery and vacation time to avoid burn out. I mean, who doesn’t?! I think first you need to be aware of what you need, whether that be something as small as getting help on a project or as big as taking a few days off. Secondly, get the support you need to act on that awareness.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew 5 years ago?
I wish I would have known I need to pitch my skills and tell people about the future I wanted. It can take time to craft the perfect messaging and figure out exactly what you want. But trust me, it’s worth every minute. Involve the people who can help you reach your goals and give them ways to help. Brag just a little; it helps.
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing a career in tech?
Keep learning! Each time I have taken time for learning, such as taking a course or learning a new skill, I have not regretted it. That being said, this doesn’t exactly mean it is going to be fun. It is a lot of work, so push through it. I promise it’s worth it!
What do you think companies can do to encourage more women to pursue tech-based careers?
Inspire tech savvy women to develop a passion and jump more into the technical side, even if they are just starting to learn something technical. Have women in interviews! It helps women to see that there is another woman on the direct team that person will work on. Make sure there are women who work at a director level and are senior leaders in your company to show growth and promotion potentials. These women make incredible role models.
Why did you want to sign up for Armoire?
Hmm, less laundry? And I love being able to try something new, and not just wear the clothes in my closet that I’m not particularly loving at that moment.
What’s your favorite part about the service so far?
I appreciate renting clothes that I might not want to invest in because they are bolder than whatI would typically buy. I’m wore a sparkly jacket to my holiday party, so I loved being able to sent something I only need for a single event.
How do you see Armoire fitting into your life as a woman in tech?
I can get into a style rut, and clothing rental is a great way to get me out of it. Being an Armoire member gives me confidence to try new things!
What Armoire outfit do you feel most powerful in?
Jeans, a nice shirt I feel confident in, and a good jacket. I don’t want to be pulling up my pants, adjusting a shirt or feeling vulnerable in something, I want to feel like I rock it!
A peek inside Megan’s closet
Diane Von Furstenberg