Anneliese Olson, General Manager and Global Head of Home Printing Solutions at HP Inc, has been with HP for nearly 25 years, in large part because of the work family she’s found there. “HP is a family unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced before at other companies,” she says.
She recently shared with Fairygodboss what, exactly, this kind of camaraderie looks like: “I had just been promoted into management when I was thinking about starting a family,” Olson recalls. “I had so much worry and stress about being pregnant and out on maternity leave that first year and how it would affect my career. Looking back, I laugh at the worry I put myself through because it was a complete non-issue. My manager and team were supportive of me and I was able to pursue my passions both at work and at home.”
Olson told Fairygodboss about how she decompresses after each work day, why her mom is her hero — and she also offered some super applicable career tips for job seekers.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been in my current role for just one year. Prior, I ran HP’s PC business for seven years in APJ, based in Singapore. I made the shift to lead Home Printing globally as an opportunity to take what I learned from being part of our HP PC transformation and apply the learnings to help transform our Print business. In total, I’ve been with HP for 24 years with roles across segments, different geographies and different business models for PC, Print and Services.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
To start, I check my calendar for the day, take a quick look at email for hot topics, and get the day going. At the end of the day, I save my commute time home to do a 1:1, often not with a direct member of my team/staff — to talk live about something going on with our company culture, top talent or the business directly. Then it is a short podcast to finish the drive home — usually TedTalks or WorkLife with Adam Grant (which provides provocative concepts and helps me decompress).
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of HP?
HP is a company that’s reinventing ourselves constantly; however, we’re grounded in the original vision of our founders. Every time I see Bill’s and Dave’s [our founders’] offices (yes, they’re still intact here on the Palo Alto campus), I feel both very humble and proud. I take it upon myself — now in a senior role — to keep that vision of reinvention alive.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about HP that you think they should?
The camaraderie among the HP executive leadership team, as well as up and down the organization and across geographies, is something truly special. People at HP have a loyalty to the brand, business, and especially to the people here — and that doesn’t always exist in other places.
There is also a heritage and knowledge base that exists at HP because of the loyalty of long-term folks both in the business and work we do. Personally, I believe that my colleagues are my work family; they’re a group of people — around the world in different roles — who I can call at any time for support both at work and in my personal life. HP is a family unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced before at other companies.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
I’m a communicator, and I have a lot of passion in both my work and in helping people unlock their own potential. This translates into my strengths for my job, including my ability for driving authentic, transparent conversations with all levels of the organization. I can pull things out from the shadows; for example, I can get the sacred cows onto the table for discussion, have real development feedback discussions about what is holding someone back in their role, and essentially ensure we are naming the problem whenever possible. My self-motivation, my dedication, and my experience empower me to take on the hard challenges.
What about outside of work?
Two things especially. Finding interesting music and putting my amateur DJ skills to practice gives me “cool mom” status with my kids. Also, I can host a kick-ass, multi-course dinner party at home.
What are you trying to improve on?
In my leadership role, it’s my job to cut through the clutter and make decisions that impact how my team operates. I’m continually focused on making decisions faster, as well as making it a priority to tackle the hard things first vs. saving them for the end of the day.
What’s your favorite mistake?
I had just been promoted into management when I was thinking about starting a family. I had so much worry and stress about being pregnant and out on maternity leave that first year and how it would affect my career. Looking back, I laugh at the worry I put myself through because it was a complete non-issue. My manager and team were supportive of me and I was able to pursue my passions both at work and at home.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of myself for jumping at the chance for moving my family andI to Singapore with the HP PC business. It was a new team with new players and I had no history with any of the execs, the press or customers/partners in the region — but we made it all work. Personally, and professionally, it was an amazing move for us.
What do you love most about HP?
I literally can bring my whole — hard working, crazy, loud, committed, results-driven — self to work every day at HP.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
Lots! For music, I’ve had Childish Gambino — “This Is America” — on repeat since it came out. I love his style and approach to highlighting issues. Also, Amber Mark is one of my favorites this year. She’s a self-trained musician and songwriter. ”Lose My Cool” is my favorite on her 3:33am album.
I’m also reading two books currently. “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish (easy read) and “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Harari (more challenging read).
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Make sure to use your network of mentors and sponsors in your search. Your results speak for themselves, but sponsors and advocates can speak even louder.
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
My mom. She was a 3rd generation Idahoan raised on a farm who went off to university, graduated in Education, and went to the “big city” of Boise to teach English. She is well-read and wicked smart, and had a broad set of experiences teaching junior high, high school and university.
My mom was a single mom for a while so our family didn’t have much money, but we always knew about the world. It was because of her that I became an exchange student in Europe at 18, before going to university; that year abroad living with a family, learning and traveling in new cultures and learning a new language not only stretched me out of my comfort zone, but showed me I could figure out how to do anything. My mom encouraged and fostered that trait in me, while anchoring me in sports, church, the outdoors and the idea that it is smart to remain humble.
I live by the mantra “to whom much is given, much is expected” because of my mom.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
“You can have it all, just not at the same time.” Also, “Make sure you take your seat at the table,” which is one I use almost every day.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Trust and belief in me.
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