Fairygodboss of the Week: Sherry Harmon
Photo credit:Sherry Harmon
Fairygodboss of the Week: Sherry Harmon
Chief Revenue Officer ModuleQ
San Francisco, CA
Nominated by: Johanna Maska, SVP Communications and Marketing Karmic Labs
Johanna’s Nomination for Sherry:
Sherry was nominated by Johanna Maska. Here are the wonderful things Johanna has to say about Sherry: “I met Sherry through a mutual friend when I was looking to transition into technology. Not only did she lend her connections, her advice, her expertise, she also became my dear friend. Sherry is a mentor above any I've worked with. Sherry has led companies from nothing to extreme fortune. She hires excellent people and helps them achieve their dreams. She's passionate, focused, and a person I would absolutely love to work for. From Sherry, I’ve learned great habits, productivity, and life lessons: how to love what we have, how to be grateful for our friends and our family, how to strive for more. Sherry surrounds herself with a wonderful community and I'm lucky to be among it.”
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
SH: My father was an orphan and my mother came from a farming family in Michigan. Both felt that they were born lucky to have given to them a college education and careers that spanned the globe. I was born while they were in college. My Dad joined Dow Chemical, then a family owned start-up, after completing a Chemical Engineering Degree. My Mom was a teacher. Our family grew and my Dad’s career bloomed. We moved every two years as Dow Chemical grew and he took on more responsibility in different parts of the world.
We lived in some of the top cities in the world the world, yet flew back to the farm in the summer to pick pickles. As my father’s daughter, I was taught that I could do anything and that I should do something remarkable. As my mother’s daughter, I was encouraged to make my own career. What they both didn’t tell me is that the world would not think that a woman could do everything. While this lead to some surprises in the workplace, being that naïve may have looked like courage.
After completing a Master’s degree I went to work at Digital Equipment Corporation where I had interned. It was a rough time for college graduates and most of my friends could only get jobs as secretaries. I felt lucky. At Digital Equipment I held many roles over the period of 9 years. This was a great time in the technology arena. I was doing things that I would never have dreamed of like outfitting Dennis Conner’s winning Americas’ Cup boat with a navigation system and then participating in the next Americas’ Cup in San Diego.
Back in that day, growing revenues from $50k to $400M business was a thrill until I was transferred to Palo Alto. I had lived everywhere but never had I encountered anything like Northern California. Opting in on a new journey, I decided to join an early stage software startup with a focus was on disruptive software for knowledge workers. Two acquisitions and 3 successful IPOs later, I had not yet reported to a woman, but I have worked with men who were very generous with their knowledge. It would have been lonely without the many talented women I hired and worked with. That does makes me smile.
FGB: What was a challenge you overcame?
SH: Work has presented me with many challenges, but I like to solve problems. The tough times come with the randomness of everyday life. Just keep looking forward. A few years ago I was faced with how I might make a difference and took up the cause of college scholarships for disadvantaged young people. The barriers are very real and sometimes heartbreaking.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
SH: When you are a working mom, you stress about the time not spent with your kids. When my daughter graduated from High School she told me that I had showed her all the possibilities that she might have in this world. That was a great relief!
FGB: Who is one celebrity - dead or alive - that you’d like to have dinner with?
SH: The best thing I could imagine is dinner with my Grandmother who is no longer alive. I have so many more questions for her. She was one of the first women in this country to get a Master’s degree and she ran the school district in her community. At age 55, she and my grandfather took in my father as a foster child. He was 12 years old. My grandmother was my famous in her community. She wished that everyone could enjoy reading and passed the passion for books and music to everyone she met. Her name was Nina and she had a sparkling 105 years of life. I am lucky!
FGB: What is your favorite song?
SH: Learning to Fly - Tom Petty
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
SH: Le Mans. There is very little talking, just the sound of engines and tires. I play it while I am working on Excel.
FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?
SH: "The Boys in the Boat" -- It's a little like a startup team.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
SH: Tires. It’s like buying shoes for my car!
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
SH: Meg Waite Clayton! Meg is a successful attorney reinvented as a bestselling author. She writes about women, what they face and how they change the world. She inspires me to never stop. Her most recent book, “Race for Paris” inserts you into the life of two reporters who write about the liberation of Paris from the Nazis.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.