Seven Questions with CrossCountry Consulting’s Michelle Balash
Our women in technology blog series is one way to showcase the wisdom and experiences of women who are making strides in their industry, their company, and their role. This year, the blog series specifically highlights the 2019 Aragon Women In Tech award recipients!
Learn about the success, obstacles, and advice that these women have to offer.
Today, we hear from Michelle Balash, Workday National LE Sales Leader at CrossCountry Consulting, a business advisory firm that provides customized finance, accounting, HR, risk, operations and technology consulting services. Michelle was the 2019 recipient of the Aragon Research Women in Technology Award for Sales—during this time, she worked at IBM as a Major Sales Leader.
Read on to learn more about Michelle, and her perspective on very important topics related to women in technology.
1) Please describe yourself in three words:
Passionate and radically candid.
2) What do you find most interesting about the technology field in which you work?
How it is forever changing. Technology has changed every aspect of our lives—from communication to "a day in life" scenarios at work. Just as soon as we feel caught up, it changes again. I am passionate about the future of work and the impact that technology has on the potential for digital transformation. In my line of work, the fundamental aspects of human resources and financial management are constantly changing and it is up to me to help my clients redefine what a "better experience" looks like. People drive transformation, not technology. Period.
3) How do you find work-life balance?
Very carefully. I admit, sometimes I give myself a grade A here and other times a grade D. As a mom, a wife, a friend and an insanely driven human, I tend to get caught up in trying to be the best in all categories of my life. I have realized that in order to truly manage work and life I need to give myself certain "passes" and to listen to the aspects that need more attention that day. Technology is both a blessing and a curse with regards to flexibility and "always on" communications. Multi-tasking is a gift, but I realize that giving all aspects of life truly dedicated time is what make the balance whole.
4) What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Embracing my personal professional style. The technical definition of radically candid is: "caring personally while challenging directly with kind and sincere guidance". I realized long ago—through many bumps and success stories - that communication style and listening skills can make or break your career. For various reasons, being taken seriously as a young professional female impacts all of us differently. For me, I had to learn to embrace the uniquely female challenges in the workforce versus run from them, and continuously advocate for my point of view and that of my team's. My way—through being radically candid.
5) Are there enough opportunities for women in tech? How would you assess the progress women have made in the tech industry?
No. Period. Overall, I think there have been positive advancements in certain roles for women in technology. However, as I look around the table in my industry, there is a huge gap for senior female sales leadership positions. For one reason or another, this has been slower to progress. I have always tried to recognize “moments that matter” in my career. I had one a few weeks ago when I heard my current COO at CrossCountry Consulting, Amy Bjarnason, use the term "radically candid" in a recent town hall! Surrounding ourselves with amazing key female mentors will empower others and keep the movement alive. I am also inspired with every interaction with my company’s "Network of Women Committee" and believe that the stronger the internal network is the more empowered we can become.
6) What are some things you think should be addressed on macro, peer, and education levels to encourage women to feel empowered in the tech industry?
Diversity and Inclusion matters. Embracing differences matters. To quote an incredible female superpower, Kirsten Phillips, "empowered women empower women." It is almost empowering to just accept that there will be bias. Address it and move on.
7) Please provide a women in tech “call to action”!
Find a Mentor/ be a Mentor. Strength is in numbers. Every challenge brings an opportunity to do something and learn something. Just remember, someone is always watching. That someone could be inspired. Be their inspiration. Create a “moment that matters.”. #challengeaccepted
Want to be part of the WIT action at Transform 2020? Register to join our WIT Panel session and watch the 2020 Women In Tech Award winners accept their awards!