Melody Mai never knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. But by accepting the challenges that were thrown her way (and by accepting a little help from her Fairygodboss), she is now the senior director, program management at Eventbrite. Mai shared her winding career path to where she is now, then gave us a little insight into what she considers good leadership — and how she learned to be a good leader. Then, she gave us her no. 1 tip for women who want a successful and ever-changing career. The main takeaway? Even if you don't have a clear vision of your perfect role, do something that gets you closer to your dream everyday.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Melody Mai
Senior Director, Program Management at Eventbrite
San Francisco Bay Area
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I was one of those people that never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Somehow I landed a role as the e-commerce store manager for Macromedia.com (now Adobe), which ultimately led me into finding my passion and strengths as a program manager. Throughout my over 10 years at Macromedia and Adobe, I went from directly managing projects to managing the team to expanding my scope of leadership beyond e-commerce. I ultimately ended leading the program management function for our web and e-commerce teams.
At some point, I decided I wanted to join a smaller company and get the chance to build a team from the ground up. I naturally fell in love with the Eventbrite product because I had once been part of a dance group who could have used the platform for their ticketing needs. Ever since then, I’ve been with Eventbrite — the company has grown from about 100 employees to more than 700 global “Britelings”!
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I recently spoke at the Women of Silicon Valley conference about how to leverage change to grow into leadership. While never easy, it was those times of change that became the key pivotal moments that allowed me to step up and grow as a leader. I was proud to share my story with hundreds of other women in technology and inspire them as they navigate their own leadership journeys.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Often, a natural progression for leaders is to first grow within a discipline that they are most familiar with. Not too long ago, my boss challenged me to take on solving challenges for our QA engineers, something that I felt was completely outside of my wheelhouse. At first I resisted, but I’m grateful he encouraged me to try. Through this experience, I realized that I can be an effective people leader without having any experience in the discipline. It was about active listening, seeing the bigger picture, advocating for their needs and empowering those with the expertise to lead as well. This experience gave me the confidence to know that I am a leader and very capable of tackling whatever comes my way.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
My boss from Macromedia/Adobe, Robin Ducot, was my Fairygodboss. She was the one who recognized my strengths early on and guided me throughout my career. As my boss, she gave me the autonomy that allowed me to thrive and develop into a leader, yet supported me when I needed guidance. She believed in me when I didn’t know I had it in me to succeed. I am where I am today because of her!
What do you do when you’re not working?
Most of the time outside of work, I’m with my three kids. However, I also try hard to squeeze in time for myself where I’m either practicing capoeira with my capoeira group, working on my next Zumba class routine to teach or just getting a massage!
If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
What is your go-to karaoke song?
"Killing Me Softly" by Fugees.
What is your favorite movie?
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
"How to Survive on a Deserted Island."
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
My shopping vices include bags, shoes, accessories, cookbooks and crafting books. If I won the lottery, I’d buy a vacation home in Hawaii.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Take steps towards what you want everyday, no matter how small the step. And if something is in the way, take steps to overcome it. Because when you look back a year from today, you’ll see that those small steps add up and what was once considered unattainable may no longer seem that way.
Why do you love where you work?
Eventbrite is very committed to developing a culture of positivity, autonomy and acceptance of who you are and what you bring to the table. As a woman and a mother of three, I feel supported every day to know that I can continue growing my career while balancing the day-to-day challenges of motherhood.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.