As we prepare for the 2016 Women in Leadership (WIL) event on May 5th, we wanted you all to get to know our panelists! We will kick off our WIL panelist blog series with Kimberly Appleton, Vice President of Global Sales Operations for OnSemi. Get to know Kimberly by reading her answers to the following questions designed to entertain and inspire.
What was your dream job as a child and why?
I wanted to be a veterinarian for a professional horse racing outfit. Why? What else would an animal-loving, spirited girl with an overactive imagination growing up in Detroit want to do?
What has been your biggest professional challenge as a female leader?
Finding the right balance in professional relationships, especially when 99.9% of your peers and executive team are male. It’s an interesting balance socializing at off-site events (which are plenty in sales), especially when you enjoy a few glasses of wine and you are typically the only woman. Rumors are always out there, so you need to make choices and strike the right balance with how you want to be perceived.
Where did you go to college and what was your first job out of school?
Fight ON! I attended the University of Southern California and was smack dab in the middle of the Rodney King riots my senior year. That situation reinforced my decision to accept my first job with IBM in Austin, Texas an associate Engineer at their printed circuit board plant.
Tell me about your professional career track?
I graduated with an engineering degree, so clearly I was going to be an engineer right? Well, I did that for 2 years at IBM, and then joined Advanced Micro Devices and dabbled in manufacturing systems engineering in the ultra-cool wafer fabs. I joined Motorola in 1998 in the supply chain organization, where I developed wafer fab capacity modeling software. I transitioned into a business unit role to strengthen my business acumen and ended up so frustrated at the lack of pricing discipline that I ended up the corporate pricing manager driving pricing processes and systems across what was Freescale Semiconductor. (Be careful what you complain about). When that project was completed, I was moved into SALES of all places! Scary for an introvert. Well, sales operations and guess what? It ended up being the perfect home for a jack of all trades. After 12 years at Mot/Freescale, I left to take a director level position where I could develop and run my own sales operations organization. I was scared to death. That was 6 years and 3 promotions ago. I joined ON Semiconductor in 2013 as the VP of Global Sales Operations where I am responsible for a 290 person organization. And yes, I was scared to death when I accepted the position at ON as well. Sadly, fear has always been a constant companion in my career, but I’ve learned to use it constructively instead of letting it paralyze me.
What advice do you have for young female professionals?
Feedback is a gift. Treat it like one.
Any advice on how to achieve a happy work-life balance?
Be present. Clearly the definition of balance is different for everyone, but when you carve out family or friend time, be present. Don’t check email or multi-task. Unless you are a brain surgeon, it can wait.