Name: Melinda Nath-Richter
Title: Consulting Technical Manager
Melinda has worked in the IT industry since 1997 and has continuously developed her skills in various professional positions, from software engineer to systems analyst. She was promoted to Consulting Technical Manager at Oracle, where she has successfully contributed to multiple customer projects in collaboration with a global team over the past 14 years.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Melinda's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The biggest challenge for me is myself: not getting lost in details, building trust and finding the right time to delegate.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I believe that leaders are chosen by the people. Therefore, the reasons that led me to this position are as diverse as each individual I have worked with.
However, I'm assuming it's a combination of the following
1. short term: leave your own comfort zone and try completely new things
2. medium term: concentrate on matters where you can effectively bring about sustainable change
3. long term: discipline to follow through on a plan
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a working mom, I don't sleep much. At the same time, I am not conditioned to rely on any routine, which I think helps build resilience and stay open to unexpected events and options.
So my morning could either start at 3 a.m. with a coffee on the way to the airport. Or ideally with yoga, preferrably outside at sunrise for sun salutations and a plate of fresh fruit, especially if you can pick it from a tree.
I make it a point to enter all appointments in my calendar, including personal commitments, so that I don't neglect them. When I turn on my computer and first check my schedule, I identify missing tasks and necessary people to contact.
For lunch, when I don't have a business meeting, I like to recharge my batteries with a walk and get some vitamin D from direct sunlight and just a light snack.
From the afternoon to the evening I work in a results-oriented manner with the goal of achieving something visible to share at the end of the day. Finally, I check and note all open tasks for the next day.
Dinner is my meal of the day, I love to treat myself and balance what I haven’t been able to take in. I also try to remember a highlight of the day that I value and want to pursue.
Before I go to sleep, I tune into my own private temple by checking whether my body feels healthy. If my mind feels restless, I’ll revisit the to-do list for the next day and try to acknowledge that not all can be solved immediately.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Help for self-help can only be provided to a certain extent. It's important to recognize when to let go and allow everyone to follow their own path. The best thing you can do is to stay true to yourself and consequently be surrounded by supporters who will stand by you to get the job done as a team.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Surrounded by idiots (Thomas Erikson)
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Challenging yourself is the best investment. I internalize better when I put things into practice myself to understand fundamental and related problems.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
It was a product portfolio presentation event that required people with different skills. Given the tight schedule, I quickly realized that networking wasn't on the agenda.
I was the first and last on site that day, handling logistics and simplifying processes by making decisions where possible and giving team members the opportunity to connect and engage with each other. Based on the feedback, long-term strengthened working relationships were a successful outcome.
Even if this is not in your job description, I’m convinced it’s a healthy reality check for a manager to temporarily switch with the assistant. To remind everyone not to take everything for granted and to be genuinely grateful for each and everybody's accomplishments.