WITI Women Spotlight - Michele Lada

WITI News Staff

October 12, 2022

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Michele Lada, a Senior Director of Sales at Equinix, leads high performance teams focused on transformative and digital first sales strategies in the San Francisco Bay Area within the high-growth sector of Strategic Large Enterprise. Michele is passionate about mapping her clients’ transformational initiatives against market conditions and opportunities while coaching the dynamic organization critical to successful outcomes and happy customers. Prior to joining Equinix, Michele held sales leadership roles at Netrality Data Centers, Lumen, and Level 3 Communications with a long track record of handling complex, global clients with a white-glove customer-first approach. Michele has a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and has perfected Eastern Carolina style Pulled Pork BBQ. In her free time, she enjoys entertaining in and renovating a Victorian farmhouse while saving all the rescue kittens in Napa, CA.

Q: How do you take your whole self to work?
When I moved into leadership, I failed several times trying to be all things to all people. When I started sharing my own vulnerabilities, I found true connection and collaboration with others and our team became more powerful for it. Reminding myself that the team is mightier than any one individual allows me to express my strengths and simultaneously amplify those of others.

Q: Is perfection possible?
Absolutely not. The pursuit of perfection remains a struggle for me personally, but I have some wonderful mentors who help me focus on the path forward instead of the rear window. Many women hold themselves to unreasonable standards set by society. We are more critical of ourselves than we would ever dream of being with others. I focus on giving myself as much grace and encouragement as I would offer another. Your best self IS good enough and likely someone else’s inspiration. We can’t allow the impossible pursuit of perfection to impede forward progress for ourselves, but more importantly, for those we lead.

Q: Freedom- What choices did you feel were your own?
For much of my life, I followed a path set by the expectations of others - parents, teachers, significant others. Though I was fortunate enough to have a successful career from the onset, I usually put the wellbeing of others in front of my own. It wasn’t until I went into leadership that I realized I had a responsibility to be happy and healthy for myself AND as an example for others. The career and life choices I have made in my forties have shown me how fulfilling life can be when you make the right choice for YOU.

Q: If you could start over, what would you do differently?
If I could, I would find a mentor and my own voice earlier in life. Being an introvert grappling with perfectionism, I struggled with self-confidence, especially in the male-dominated tech sales world. My first mentor, Sonja Williams at Level 3, allowed me to not only feel truly seen but also to see my own potential through her eyes. This had a lasting effect that ultimately led me to move into leadership. I often wonder what I could have accomplished by now if I had embraced that potential earlier in my life.

No matter where we are in our careers, finding mentorship, whether formal or informal, can open our minds to further embracing our strengths while objectively evaluating opportunities for development. While each of us is in charge of forging our own path, it is energizing and inspiring to know how many people are willing to help if you just ask. The possibilities are endless when you surround yourself with people invested in you and your goals.

Q: What was the best advice you ever received?
In a poignant conversation, a colleague told me that if one doesn’t take on challenges that are bigger than they think they can handle, they will never know their limits. Any initial perception you have about yourself is a false ceiling on your own ability. Prior to this conversation, I had never thought about failing as an opportunity to truly define my personal baseline. Without knowing that, how would I know what I need to do to grow? This had a profound effect on how I think about facing potential challenges.

Q: What books are on your nightstand? Or podcasts do you listen to?
The book that shaped my leadership career has been Radical Candor by Kim Scott. It gave me the playbook for coaching and giving and receiving feedback. In the past, I required leaders who worked for me to read it so we would all have a common approach to building and maintaining a high-performance organization. During the pandemic, I started walking several miles a day with Audible books to keep me company. The one that resonated deeply was Presence by Amy Cuddy. I still refer to it and recommend to people today.

With the Bay Area California traffic coming back, I rely on podcasts to keep me engaged and entertained. Smartless and Work Life Balance by Adam Grant are on rotation. However, my current favorites are All-In and This Week in Startups which help me get into the minds of our tech-savvy Silicon Valley clients! For fun, on super long road trips, I listen to My Favorite Murder and any country music station available.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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