This is the second post in the Be Your Own Best Blog’s Inspirational Women series. This series highlights exceptional women across a diverse spectrum of occupations and industries, and allows them to share some of their insights with an equally diverse audience.
Meet Gael Tisack
Vice President of Legal and Intellectual Property/Compliance Officer/General Counsel,
Terumo Cardiovascular Systems
I have a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering and a J.D., all from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). I worked as an engineer and then as a manager at Ford Motor Company for 11 years before going to law school, where I graduated with honors. After law school I worked in an intellectual property boutique firm for three years before going in-house. I have been at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems for 12 years, where I have received six promotions and am currently the Vice President and General Counsel. I manage multiple departments including Legal, Intellectual Property, Compliance, Human Resources, Import/Export and Distribution. I also serve as Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary for my company and a sister company Terumo Heart.
How would you define a “successful” career and what needs to happen for more women to achieve that level of success?
Success is having the career you want to have. It is not measuring yourself against what someone else has done but measuring yourself against your own goals.
What is your proudest career accomplishment and why?
I’m proudest of having created the Women’s Initiative Network at my company. It has given women a voice and a network. We have reduced the turnover rate of women from 33% to 12% and increased the women in executive management from 11% to 28%. So many women now say that is why they stay with the company.
Please describe a challenging problem that you had to overcome in your career and the steps you took to do so.
I was promoted from within my company and it was a challenge to get the titles and pay for the job I was doing. Almost all of the executive positions at my company are outside hires. I was performing the General Counsel role and reporting directly to the President/CEO, yet didn’t have the title. It was very hard for me to ask and took me two years to work up the courage to put a case together as to why I deserved it. When I presented it to my President he laughed at me and said he thought I already was a VP. I was my own worst supporter and that taught me an important lesson.
If you could be mentored by anyone, who would it be and why?
I would love to be mentored by Carly Fiorina. She is dynamic and reinvents herself and can make the hard decisions.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ask for what you want. Don’t wait for others to recognize you.
What words do you live by?
“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
If you would like to suggest an inspirational woman for consideration, please e-mail Lisa Mueller at email@example.com.