Photo Courtesy of Michelin.
2020 marks 24 years at Michelin for Experience Product Manager – Marketing Cloud Product Owner Sharda Mohammed. And thanks to the company’s global purpose to create a better way forward, she’s never been bored.
Michelin invests more than €600 million in research and development each year, making their products continually interesting to work with. At the same time, to find a better way forward, Michelin is committed to building a workforce that reflects the communities and markets it serves, leveraging the unique talents, skills and backgrounds of all employees to drive innovation and exceed customers’ expectations now and in the future.
In return, Michelin offers employees a broad range of opportunities to learn, develop, contribute and find purpose at work. Michelin was selected by Forbes magazine as one of its Top 10 "America's Best Employers" in 2019 and was ranked 15th by Minority Engineer magazine as one of its "Top 50 Employers" for 2020.
Driven by many of Michelin’s employee development opportunities, Sharda has worked in different roles across customer service, communications and product marketing, and as Michelin’s Director of Diversity.
Now, she’s reached heights in her career that she’d never imagined possible when she joined Michelin, leading a diverse Digital Transformation team that spans the globe, working in 10 regions and over five business lines.
“The opportunity to be in the Digital Transformation team has revealed strengths that I didn’t even know I had. I never thought I’d be on a panel of Women in STEM, but there I was,” Sharda said. “The wealth of knowledge I have been exposed to is incredible and I have been working on adrenaline and passion for over four years.”
So, how did she stand out and create an evolving career at one company? In a recent interview, Sharda shared with us the ways she developed her career and advocated for new roles, the routines that help her achieve success each day, and how she’s overcome obstacles as a woman in tech. She also shared more about what makes Michelin a special place to work — and why she’ll be working there for years to come.
How long have you been with Michelin? What about it made you first want to join?
I have been happily and gratefully employed at Michelin since 1996 – 24 years this year! I originally wanted to join because I (at age 24) wanted to be part of a company whose product and logo was everywhere… I saw the Michelin brand name and Michelin Man all the time! Plus, I learned from a very young age from my father (while he kicked the tires back in the day) that Michelin tires “are the best tires in the world”.
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at Michelin, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
I started off in customer service for six months – those six months still are with me. I know the tire “lingo,” the product information (I can still recommend the best tires for a fitment) and most importantly, the importance of our customers!
After six months of customer service, I liked the product so much that I joined the internal sales team. As an Internal Sales Representative, I managed the car dealer relationships and sales for close to five years. After that, I worked in Product Marketing. Then, I worked as an Area Sales Manager, as a multi-lined Communications Manager, as Director of Diversity and currently in the Digital Transformation global team.
The two roles that matched my personality and brought the best out in me are the current role of Experience Product Manager and the Director of Diversity role. The role of Director of Diversity was heavily aligned with my values and I felt that I was able to contribute to a workplace environment that allowed people to be who they are. I carry this role with me at every meeting, still.
The opportunity to be in the Digital Transformation team has revealed strengths that I didn’t even know I had. Michelin has allowed me to not only apply my marketing and sales knowledge, but learn something very new. I never thought I’d ever be on a panel of “Women in STEM,” but there I was! In addition to learning a new technology, I had to lead the global deployment of Marketing Cloud and the lead management process. This meant leading a diverse team across the world and working with 10 regions and over five business lines! The wealth of knowledge I have been exposed to is incredible and I have been working on adrenaline and passion for four years.
What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day?
First thing: I say hello to everyone that is on this journey with me! Last thing: I get excited to go home and see the family! (Well, there is not a true first or last thing because work and life flows in and out of all waking hours).
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?
Good people, good managers, HR partnership and my drive. I am thrilled to have been able to have several careers under one umbrella — I’ve been in Sales, Marketing, HR and Digital. Without wonderful employees around me, I would have not lasted this long. Without good managers to give positive criticism and coaching, I would not have developed as much. Without SP support and open mindedness, I would not have been able to change my teams. I am very grateful for each and everyone who has played a role in my daily life at Michelin. Michelin has nurtured my strive for change and impact.
Being a woman in tech can often come with a set of challenges. What obstacles have you had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle (yet I truly perceive it as a strength) is my directness when I am new to a team. In this delivery-focused environment, it is imperative to stay focused and make accomplishments every step of the way. I succeed with that, but most definitely have to ensure that the team members know where I am coming from. Does it make a difference that I am a woman? I believe yes, but only at the beginning as people would expect a softer spoken, reserved, and agreeable person. Once it is realized that I am direct due to my drive for results and efficiency, people can see that I am still kind.
How is Michelin supporting and empowering women to pursue tech careers?
Michelin is open to reimburse continued education courses, invests time in development and allows for career changes.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at your company?
The People. The Values. The environment that allows for me to be authentic. These will all help me continue to stay. However, I see Michelin’s modern view towards empowerment, agility and drive to digitize as additional reasons for me to continue my journey with Michelin.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
Michelin values resonate across the world. I could be in East Asia, the Middle East or in Mexico and not understand the language or culture yet, but once I walk into a Michelin office, I am home.
Also, it’s really a lot of fun selling a better way forward to consumers and customers! Tires are so important. Food and travel are exciting! All the new business ventures we have acquired lend so much opportunity.
What were the best qualities of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Risk-taking. Full of integrity. Visionary. Results-Oriented. They helped me develop and progress through very candid discussions and constructive feedback. They see me bigger than I see myself.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Know and understand your audience.
What do you love about working at Michelin?
The people and the pride in the global brand.
What motivates you?
Impact on the people and impact on the business and staying competitive.
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