Michelle McComb is the Chief Financial Officer for Datto, Inc., a global, award-winning vendor of backup, disaster recovery (BDR) and business continuity solutions based in Norwalk, CT. McComb oversees Datto's finance and human resources departments.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've learned that everyone has a past, and whatever that past, it molds us into who we are today - be it positively or negatively. I've learned to embrace all the aspects of my life, even the negative ones, to make me a better leader and a more informed person.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the CFO of Datto Inc?
I've had a pretty non-traditional career for a finance person - private, public, large, small, domestic, international, etc - covering a variety of disciplines. I feel this varied background has helped me be far more diverse, and allows me to cover a lot of areas relevant for a rapidly growing global tech company like Datto.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
When I was a kid I had no idea where my Dad worked or who he worked with. It was hard to understand what drove him and put into context the time and balance he had between work and family. I, try to ensure my own family has a better perspective of the various aspects of my career, as both my family and work are both very important to me. I make sure my family knows where I work, the challenges (in as far as I can share them) that I am dealing with and the team of people with whom I work. My family is my anchor and has been there for me in good times and bad. I may not be there for everything but I try to be there for the important moments, even small ones. I also try to be open and honest with them, and the same goes with my work family.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Datto?
Datto is a rapidly growing, emerging tech company, so I knew what I was getting into when I accepted the position, and nothing has surprised me since. There's just a lot to get done. I've always had high expectations, and I'm always thinking I can get more done quicker. The real positive is Datto's culture. I felt at home from the minute I walked in the door as everyone was so unbelievably friendly and made me feel welcome.
What advice can you offer those seeking to establish their own business?
I've never had the opportunity to start my own business, but from my own experience and inspirations, my observations are that you have to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, that you trust and empower you to do great things. I'd also say to watch the money carefully and invest it wisely. The cash never goes as far as you think it can (and always trust it to a good accountant / finance person).
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Balancing family with career is the single biggest challenge for women in the workplace. Based upon my experiences, I believe women have a tougher time fulfilling their career aspirations and balancing the needs of their family, and being comfortable with the decisions that impact career and family, as there are always trade-offs.
What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
She definitely has some interesting and inspiring perspectives. We've had some similar experiences. I grew up in Utah, where women were not praised for being career minded. I have an older brother who could not be more different from me, and I recall on my graduation from university my father saying ' too bad you are not your brother and your brother's not you!' He meant I was a career aspiring young person that would be better suited as the male provider, but as a female I could just marry some successful male. Little did he know that pushed me forward to rise to my full potential regardless of sex! I think regardless of being male or female you should always strive to be your best and embrace who you are!
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I can't specifically say that I've had any formal mentors in my life, but what I've done is pay attention to people I've admired - watching what made them successful and listening to feedback that was given to me. I also took note of negative behaviors in leaders and managers around me and try to avoid those behaviors.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My mom and my Aunt Carol are female leaders whom I admire. My Aunt was an inspiring school teacher, and my Mom . . . well, she raised me. They both helped shape who I am today by always supporting me and never questioning me when I took risks with my career. In fact, they always told me that I could succeed at whatever I set my mind to. I hope I can similarly inspire my daughter to be whomever or whatever she wants to be.
What are your hopes for the future of Datto Inc?
I have high hopes for Datto. It's a great company with a talented leader, a great group of employees, a leading product and bright future. We've doubled in size year after year and I think that whatever we set our mind to, we can accomplish! I'm just pretty happy to be along for the ride and to be part of creating something cool.