WIL AZ 2017 Panelist Interview: Mi-Ai Parrish, President & Publisher, The Arizona Republic

Posted by Amy Fowler Stadler on 6/7/17 12:19 PM
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What was your dream job as a child and why?

Funny, but I was never one of those kids. I worked a ton of different jobs, starting as a baby-sitter when I was 9. Toy store clerk, pre-school assistant, florist, ice cream shop, survey-taker, pizza parlor waitress – to name a few. I was a writer, editor and photographer in high school, but considered it a hobby.

What has been your biggest professional challenge as a female leader?

Not the biggest challenge, but a funny one from early in my career: I applied to be editor of the college newspaper, which was very competitive. I had close to a 4.0, was set to graduate in four years (which no editor of the newspaper had ever done), was a resident assistant, and in a sorority. The guy who was my main competition argued that I was a “hypercompetent girl.” He said that I seemed like someone who would “freak out” if my grades dipped, and quit in the middle of the year. The board offered me the job, contingent on quitting the sorority, which was sort of absurd. I got great grades, an awesome job, was out in four years. No freak out. No sweat.

Where did you go to college and what was your first job out of school?

University of Maryland. I had an internship at a newspaper in Norfolk the summer before my senior year. They offered me a job at the end of the summer, so I actually started there before I was “out of school.”

Tell me about your professional career track?

I started early in journalism. I was that dorky high school yearbook editor; editor-in-chief of the college newspaper; assistant business editor at 22 at the Virginian-Pilot; spent six years at the Chicago Sun-Times in various editing roles; worked as a projects and features editor at the Arizona Republic; launched the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and ran arts and features; then ran projects and investigations and features and visuals at the Minneapolis Star Tribune for four years; made the leap to the business side as a president and publisher of the Idaho Statesman at 35; moved up to the Kansas City Star as president and publisher for four years, and got to come back to Phoenix as president in 2015.

What advice do you have for young female professionals?

Be prepared to say what you want when someone asks. Take on challenges. Be open to learning. Step up for something you’re interested in, even if you haven’t done it before. Be a good egg. Brush yourself off and stand up when you get knocked down. Be kind. Especially to other women.

Any advice on how to achieve a happy work-life balance?

Always working on that, but I really try to model good behavior. I try hard to not bug people on their time, not send notes in the middle of the night, not call people on the weekends, to make it clear that I want them to be able to spend time with their families, to celebrate successes that aren’t work-related, to provide opportunities for advancement and fulfillment.

Topics: Women In Leadership