Michiel Arrington, Senior Director of IT, Healthcare Service Corporation (HCSC)

Read the full interview here

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. Where did you grow up, and what were some important early influences for you that really shaped who you are as a leader today?

    A. I was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in a very small farming community in east Texas. In terms of early influences, you learn to solve problems when you’re out in the pasture in the middle of nowhere. Being creative with solutions is a strength of mine. I may not be able to get into the weeds and actually do the work myself. But I can look at things from a different angle and say, maybe we can’t do this, but what can we do?

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. Were you in leadership roles early on in your career?

    A. I was not. I started at HCSC when I was 20, as an administrative assistant. I had a fabulous boss, and she really gave me opportunities outside of my administrative assistant role. I would get bored because there wasn’t enough to do, and I offered to help. So she would give me opportunities. Eventually I wound up here as a senior director with HCSC.

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. What’s the best mentoring advice you’ve heard?

    A. Know your team — know what skill set people have and know how they like to be managed. I don’t like micromanaging, but some of my direct reports over the years have wanted more interaction. And so I have to adjust my management style to the way my team needs me to manage. You have to know your people in order to be able to successfully drive change through your organization.

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. What’s the most common mentoring advice that you give to other women?

    A. You need friends at work who can give you feedback. Maybe they’re the ones who say, don’t send that email. The other thing is to ask for additional opportunities within your areas of interest. But I see a lot of people who don’t know what they’re actually interested in.

    They know they want to advance, but they don’t know how or along what path. So you have to know yourself. That may mean you take some personality profile assessments to learn what your interests really are, and then talk to your leadership about those interests, and that you’d like to pursue opportunities in this area. But knowing yourself is key before you have those conversations.

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. What is your advice to the workhorses of the world who may not feel comfortable trying to get credit for their work?

    A. That was a struggle for me. I don’t need lots of recognition or to shout my name from the rooftops. I do feel like my work speaks for itself. But one thing I’ve learned through the years is that all of your work is not always visible. So during your performance reviews and check-ins, make sure you share what you’ve accomplished, including things that are outside of your role.

    It’s important to show how you’re adding value, and to document that. I encourage people to keep track of their accomplishments throughout the year, even if it’s just bullet points. That helps because otherwise you’re going to forget.

  • Michiel Arrington

    Q. Are there other important leadership lessons you’ve learned that inform your leadership style today?

    A. Treat your people like people. People make mistakes. I have made mistakes. I had one scenario when I very first started working here. I was on a conference call, and my boss’s boss was on the call, as well. I made a sort of flip, sarcastic comment. She came back and told my boss that she never wanted me to participate in another conference call again.

    That could have been the end, but my boss knew me, and knew what I was capable of, and so she just continued to give me opportunities. So when your employees make a mistake, treat it like a mistake and move on. You have to be willing to give them another shot.