"Take an active interest in someone and be a mentor. Or on the flipside, ask someone you respect and admire to mentor you. We are all accountable for and responsible for our actions, our decisions and ultimately our careers – but we need help and guidance along the way."
What do you enjoy most about working at the USPTO?
The people that I work with every day! There is something just so very special about this agency. There is an energy that is just palpable the moment you walk in the door. But honestly, also the career growth and opportunities that I have had. I have never felt not challenged and if I’ve gotten close to feeling like it’s time to try something else, that “something else” was always there. And someone was usually there helping me along the way. I have had some incredible mentors that have taken a genuine interest in me, and that is just invaluable.
What is your view on the importance of women entering STEM fields?
It’s absolutely critical to the success and future of any business or competitive organization. Having more women, and frankly more diversity in any group of people maximizes the creativity, innovation and overall success of that group because the unique perspectives of that diverse population will be heard and considered. Better decisions will be made, better products will be designed and ultimately, we will breakdown the stereotypes that exist for both men and women in the workplace. My hope is that one day, this question is no longer asked and it’s just accepted that the STEM fields are open and inclusive to anyone who has the interest, drive, desire and work ethic to do it!
The USPTO has a higher rate of women leaders than in tech sectors such as Silicon Valley. Why do you think this is the case?
Workplace flexibility, our leading edge hoteling programs and our employee compensation and benefits all contribute. But I think that’s just scratching the surface and it goes much deeper than that. From my own experience over the past almost 25 years, what has kept me here are the relationships that I have established with my supervisors and the confidence they gave me to be successful, through their words, encouragement and support. There is a generosity here at the USPTO that is gender-neutral. People want you to be successful and they take the time to help you develop and grow in your career. And that generosity translates into growing successful future leaders.
What advice would you have for young girls and women starting out their careers in STEM?
Stick with it! And don’t let anyone tell you engineering is just for the boys. And when it gets hard, stay strong and advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teachers or others around you. Find a mentor, or someone who has had similar experiences and ask for their guidance. Actively seek leadership positions, have a positive outlook and be resilient! We all make mistakes, stumble along the way and sometimes lose our balance, but don’t give up! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going!
Take an active interest in someone and be a mentor. Or on the flipside, ask someone you respect and admire to mentor you. We are all accountable for and responsible for our actions, our decisions and ultimately our careers – but we need help and guidance along the way. Actively seek out learning opportunities. I learn something new every day from everyone around me – from those above me, my peers, my kids and those who are still coming up in the ranks and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an open mind to all of those learning opportunities that are happening every day all around us!