Growing Our Team + Maintaining Balance: Michelle Delcambre (Women @ Okta Series)
At Okta, we celebrate our employees’ unique backgrounds, accomplishments and all that we’ve learned along the way. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing a blog series in which we’ll celebrate the women we get to work with every day, and hear about their proudest successes, and honest advice.
To kick us off, we sat down with Michelle Delcambre, our director of global talent acquisition, to understand how she ensures we find the best of the best for our growing team and manages a fulfilling “work-life blend” which she refers to as a “well-orchestrated game of Tetris.”
Tell us about your role here at Okta. I lead a really great team of about 25 people in the US and our EMEA offices. Our team is focused on hiring across all of the departments here at Okta; ensuring that we hire the right people to make other teams successful. My group manages all of our hiring strategy and execution, as well as our employment branding and university recruiting efforts.
And what about outside of Okta? I often describe my life as a well-orchestrated game of Tetris — trying to flip and move pieces all the time so they fit perfectly into their allotted spots. I am the mother of two very rambunctious boys, ages five and seven. My husband and I like to travel and I maintain a pretty active lifestyle and fitness schedule. I’ve juggled the PTA board for my oldest son’s school, have served on the Parent Committee at my younger son’s school and manage logistics for a couple of sports team carpools. It’s important for me to feel involved with them, and also in that community. My sons play soccer, basketball, and baseball, as well as swim, so we have a pretty hectic game schedule.
I’ve learned a lot and see some interesting things in recruiting over the last decade, so I’ve also been working on documenting some of the trials and tribulations of my experience in recruiting in tech here in the Bay Area to launch a blog series. There are interesting challenges in recruiting related to hyper-growth, measurement and how to get the most out of your teams, so I’ve started with sharing a few things on LinkedIn, and over the course of this year, plan to launch my own blog.
Sounds busy! People talk about work-life balance — how do you find that balance? I actually hate this nomenclature. I like to refer to it as a “work-life blend.” We’ve become so available because of technology that it’s become easier and easier to be connected to work outside of the traditional working hours. That creates the danger of feeling compelled to be connected to work ALL the time, which isn’t really a healthy situation for the employee or employer. So, I consider it a blend.
I work fairly traditional hours for the most part, and have some basic flexibility to be able to get my kids to and from school easily and also participate in a carpool. I’m pretty diligent about my calendaring so I can carve time out to respond to emails at certain times throughout the day and can feel good about addressing urgent and time-sensitive matters “after-hours” because I have the flexibility to be involved in the day-to-day of my family life when I want to be. If I need to zip out for a school event midday, I can do that without any issues, and can make up for it during other parts of the day. I like being able to blend the two worlds together in a way that suits me, and also suits Okta, so I can avoid feeling like I am giving too much or too little to either.
How does Okta support this? Okta has been fantastic. There are quite a few working mothers here that help to set the example that it’s possible to manage a career and a family gracefully, so it’s been nice to have role models internally that help me to know I’m not alone. I appreciate the fact that I have goals and work that needs to be accomplished, but I’m not chained to a desk from 8-5.
As I mentioned before I am in the office for fairly traditional hours, however, that’s not a “measurement” or a thing people seem to notice. I’m measured by my output and the quality of my team’s deliverables — that kind of focus on the things that really matter helps to drive the business forward. It creates an environment where it becomes easier to focus on the work I am doing and feel proud of it without sacrificing other important things in my life. Okta really focuses on the impact my team and I are having on the business and that’s refreshing.
What advice would you give other people with career ambitions and families? There are two things I’d say that are really important. The first is to be real with yourself about what you can accomplish in any given day. Set attainable goals, and hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to fall into a situation where you want to “do it all,” and then get derailed because “doing it all” isn’t a reasonable expectation for anyone.
The second thing is this — hold yourself accountable for at least 30-60 minutes of “me-time” every day. Personally, I use a meditation app and work out daily to accomplish this, but there are lots of ways to do it. Just make sure that you carve out time for yourself so that there’s enough fuel in the tank to tackle work and personal life. If you feel overworked, stressed out, or like there aren’t enough hours in the day, take 20 minutes to get centered and find a calm place — then get back at it!