‘Who I Work for Is As Important to Me As What I Do’ — How Lucid Lured Me Out of Retirement

Sponsored by Lucid Motors

Margaret Burgraff

Photo courtesy of Lucid Motors.

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April 12, 2024 at 9:50PM UTC

After two years of retirement, Margaret Burgraff saw a posting for a job that intrigued her — the VP of SW Quality and Validation at Lucid Motors, a company with a mission to inspire the adoption of sustainable energy by creating luxury electric vehicles, centered around the human experience.

“The company and charter felt like a natural fit for me, which was a lure out of retirement,” shares Burgraff. 

Coming out of retirement to rejoin the workforce may be a more unusual path, but it worked well for Burgraff. “We all have a different energy and different ambitions, my pathway was successful for me,” she says. 

For others who are defining their own career path, she advises, “learn about yourself, what you are good at and let that be the thing that guides you. Do your very best to make an impact that you (and your mom) can be proud of at any company you go to. And, at a certain point, if you don’t believe that you are where you are supposed to be, talk to people in the company who can do something about it.”

At Lucid, Burgraff has followed this advice herself and found a role and company where she can make an impact that she is proud of. “Lucid has become public and is maturing out of the startup phase into a bigger company,” she explains. “Every day I need to focus on maturing the company in addition to the product. This is a whole new level of focus above what I have had to do before, including identifying talent gaps, growing those talent gaps, identifying and patching inefficiencies, implementing new processes and changing for scalability.”

In this article, Burgraff shares how she has excelled in her role by relying on her open, direct and informal leadership style that focuses on building trust and respect with her direct reports. We’ll also learn her best advice for moving into leadership, most valuable career mistake and more!

What is your overall approach to work? 

I want the work environment to be a place where everyone feels welcome to contribute to the best of their ability every single day. I try to be approachable to anyone in the company who needs some guidance, motivation or help to connect the dots.  I like to add some levity into the work day — it is important for people to have fun, to laugh and enjoy being people together.  

What’s been your most valuable career mistake? 

I see mistakes as learning opportunities. At one point, I got hired unseen by a manager. I was flattered to be considered for the role unseen and forgot that I needed to ensure that the manager was a good fit for me, too. Once I took the job, the manager was very unavailable to me and took zero interest in even explaining what the role was. I was totally dependent on my new employees to get up to speed. I learned from this experience that who I work for is as important to me as what I do

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing an individual or team that you think has been particularly effective? 

Listen, listen, Listen. Create psychologically safe spaces and listen. Many times, someone can appear to not be working out in their role, and it is very easy to jump into performance management mode without understanding the root cause of the issue. When you create a safe space for your employees, you get employees who are willing to go the extra mile for you, who you can trust to have your back and the backs of everyone else in the organization. I equally reward my employees for enabling each other to be successful as they are at being successful. 

How do you think about making sure your direct reports feel well-supported in their lives both in and out of the office? 

I take time to get to know my employees on a personal level; I genuinely care about them as people and the wellbeing of their families. I want an environment where there is enough trust that my employees can come to me as soon as they realize they have made a mistake, knowing that I am going to roll up my sleeves and work to resolve the mistake with the employee. Most mistakes are a learning opportunity, I want my employees to take risks, to learn and to grow.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for other women who are moving into or want to move into leadership? 

Once you know what you want, figure out the stakeholders who can make that happen. Openly share with them what you want, listen carefully to their response and then take action to clear any barriers and confidently move toward your goal.  

While building your team at Lucid, what did you learn that surprised you most? 

A wonderful part of Lucid’s culture is that we quickly embrace someone as part of the team once we see eagerness and the talent that someone has to bring to the company. We are growing fast and have many needs, so it is important to identify the needs of the company and insert people into roles where they can be part of the solution.  

Photo courtesy of Lucid Motors.

Speaking of building a team, what do you believe is the No. 1 thing managers must do when onboarding new employees? 

Managers should work with employees to create a 90-day plan with 30-day and 60-day goals. They should also be present and available for the new employee. The first 90 days are critical.  

In my case, I knew my manager before I started at Lucid, which is a major benefit since the trust between us was already established. Trust is a key ingredient between a manager and an employee. Most employees join a company for the company name but leave due to the manager. A successful onboarding can go a huge way toward ensuring successful integration for the employee and retention. 

Want to start your own journey at Lucid? They’re hiring! Click the following link to browse open roles.

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