Meet our second She Leads interviewee, Melanie Cipher, Senior Product Manager at Cox Automotive. We appreciate her time and advice!

What would you tell your younger self?

You are not going to end up who – or where – you thought you were, and that is okay – you are going to really like who you become.

What was your major in college and how did you get to the position you are in today?

I started with a middle school education major.  Then I took some time off, majored in English, had a baby and took more time off, and finally got a BGS in Business/Management (in my 30s!!).  Right after I graduated I went on and got my Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  I got where I am today by building relationships and working hard to do my very best every day.  I was in customer support for a long time, and I think the skills I learned there helped me so much in knowing how to talk respectfully to people, solve problems, and be a valuable resource when someone needs help.  It’s not so much about my education as it is about how I present myself and how I treat other people.

What was your inspiration and what helped you become successful? How do you define success? 

Success to me is feeling happy when you look around your life – satisfied and fulfilled and confident.  It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I feel successful and it’s a concept I still struggle with a lot!  But I can look around and see all the wonderful things in my life that I am so very grateful for (a good job, fun coworkers, a great family, my health, my cats, my home, my hobbies…) and I realize that while *my* success may not look like anyone else’s, it’s not about comparing myself to anyone else.  It’s about comparing myself to who I want to be … and then cutting myself a little slack 🙂

How do you balance your work and personal life? Often times one has more importance, and we’re curious to know how you’ve handled the balance.

I am a firm believer in taking breaks – even if I just grab 15 minutes away from my desk to eat my lunch or to take a short walk – and at turning work OFF when I leave for the day.  Some days I work late or go in early, and there are definitely days when I check Slack or email at 9:00 at night, but I try to avoid doing that too much and I try not to get caught up in responding unless it’s an emergency.  I feel like my personal life, my family, my rest time, is so important to keeping my cup full so that I can do a better job when I am at work.

What’s your favorite part of your job and why?

My favorite parts of my job are when I am able to share something new with someone – like doing a demo with a client and showing them a new feature we’re working on – or when I can solve a problem and make someone’s life easier.  I like to make people happy!

What is your favorite hobby? 

I love to read and I love to do yoga – I teach yoga for injury and limited mobility and it’s such a fun thing to get to share with people.

What advice do you want to give the next generation of women leaders? 

Be yourself!   And start now.  It’s so much easier than struggling to figure out who you are as an adult.  People are going to like you for who you really are, not for who you pretend to be, I promise.  It may seem like a crazy idea, but the people who are the most successful, the happiest, and the most fun and interesting are the people who are like “this is who I am and I’m 100% okay with that”.  Stop hiding your light and let yourself be you.  That’s cheesy but so very true!

What’s your favorite ice cream? 

Pistachio, or maybe green tea? I guess green ice cream!

Is there any other information that you think Girl Talk members would benefit from?

I always tell my yoga students that they don’t have to do the traditional, Yoga Journal, version of the pose.  If it feels good, you are doing it right.  It’s not a bad life philosophy, either – do what feels good.  You’re not going to do something that hurts yourself or someone else that way, because that is not going to feel good.  And you’ll know when something is right for you.  It may not look like right for anyone else but you, but that’s what makes it so awesome.

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