HITEC Emerging Executive Alumni Success Story Featuring Sarah Adair
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Posted by: Salina Rivera
Through interviews with alumni of the HITEC Emerging Executive Program, each month we reveal to you real-life inspirational stories of success and the impact their participation in the EEP program has had on the trajectory of their career.
1. What advice do you have for the next cohort of Emerging Executive Program fellows?
Act like you belong in this program. Someone, and likely more than one person, from your company sees your potential as a leader. Own it! Also, don’t feel different. You are different, it’s what makes you special and desired. Embrace that difference.
2. What is your most memorable Emerging Executive Program moment?
Doing a fireside chat with Anne Marie Azzi (Senior VP, Bank of America) at my cohort’s graduation. The connection and inspiration I received in return was astounding, plus it was the most daring professional choice I’ve made, sharing pieces of my journey with such a large audience.
3. What made you decide to share your story?
As part of Microsoft’s cultural transformation, they are retraining all their managers via a course called Managers Reboot. One of the outcomes of the course is defining your purpose and while mine didn’t change, it did expand to include telling my story. I was confused on why that was important, until I started the process. I gained the courage to share by practicing vulnerability, sharing my story with others, learning from their perspective, and leaning into the support of my cohort and leadership community at Microsoft. The process of getting on that stage was as valuable as the experience and connection I received from the audience afterwards.
4. Best piece of advice given to you by your mentor?
Reading a Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williams, after a particularly shocking experience as a new female leader. I wasn’t sure I could or how I would show up after that, and this book gave me the perspective I needed. My mentor also advised I get assistance from others, helping me identify the specifics.
5. What Is today’s single most important goal?
As leaders, to understand who it is we are becoming and having the audacity to face our fears in growing out of who we are today. With all the change technology is bringing to our planet, people, and businesses – our existence depends on it and as Anis Nin once wrote, “life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”.
6. How will Microsoft benefit from your participation in the HITEC Emerging Executive Program?
I’m more confident from the training and exposure to examples of female and LatinX leadership I can relate to. The inspiration and belief in my ability to lead has helped me on the never ending journey of being authentic, vulnerable, and brave. I also have a larger external network of leaders for when I find myself at a crossroads or lost, broadening my perspective outside of Microsoft’s culture and the Pacific Northwest. Quite valuable with my focus of driving transformation.
7. What is the most powerful word in your dictionary?
Courage. I like to learn and from my experience, courage is critical to growth. It takes courage to see and choose to live outside of the invisible boxes we find ourselves in, created by culture and societal expectations. And it takes courage to be self-aware and change our perspective when things aren’t what we’d have them be – so we can run towards the light when it storms.
8. What are you doing to give back?
Volunteering with the HITEC Foundation Scholarship Committee and working to expand formal leadership training at Microsoft to those in non-management roles, believing it makes us better contributors, partners, and human beings.
9. What is next?
Finding ways to help us see the invisible boxes we get stuck in and ensuring the ceilings of today become the floors for our daughters and nieces. Managing a larger organization so I can serve more people and create a larger impact in our world.
10. Sarah Adair fun fact?
I don’t speak Spanish and after joining HITEC last year, I’ve been inspired to learn! I also teach at a local Resort, helping 4-6 year-olds enjoy the great outdoors on skis.