Michelle Guthrie: One of the Finest Leaders I Have Ever Met

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I have had the good fortune to lead, and be led, across four continents, in a variety of public, private, and social benefit domains. I am a Major in the US Marine Corps, in which I have served for 15 years, from attending boot camp in Parris Island, to being deployed to Afghanistan. I was a US Congressional fellow. I chair a social enterprise that aims to provide jobs to refugees. I have been involved in a variety of non-profit efforts, such as Team Rubicon, where veterans use their skills to provide disaster relief. For the last four years, I have been employed by Google. For nearly two years, I worked directly under Michelle Guthrie, advising her on Strategy and Operations in the Asia-Pacific. I observed, supported, and advised Michelle as she led diverse teams in Tokyo, Shanghai, Delhi, Singapore, Sydney, and everywhere in between.  Google entrusted her with partnering with some of the largest media conglomerates in the Asia Pacific to co-create advertising revenue. These entities ranged from government controlled broadcasters to traditional print media companies to internet giants.  I watched, assisted – and often just tried to keep up – as she grew the business year after year, despite a range of challenges, including meddling from large communist governments, entrenched interests, and old-fashioned stiff competition. During the past two decades, there has been only one occasion on which I have written a letter to a departing senior describing to them how much I had learned from them.  That person was Michelle Guthrie. That email is here. The content of the email reflected my sentiments about Michelle’s leadership at Google, in 2015, before she moved to the ABC. Those sentiments still stand. They sit in sharp contradistinction to commentary I have read about Michelle’s purported “leadership style” at the ABC. That commentary surprised me, as I never observed Michelle’s leadership style to be anything other than thoroughly insightful, motivating and effective. I know little about the ABC. I can’t comment on what occurred during Michelle’s tenure there. In my experience, however, nearly any leader in the midst of a transformational campaign will struggle to be loved.  This is likely especially true for those who are different because of their gender, ethnicity, and/or background. My only observation of Michelle’s leadership at the ABC was when she kindly told her staff about two food-truck fundraisers for refugees that we were holding, outside of the ABC headquarters.  I do not know what she said to her staff, but the food trucks sold-out both days, and raised over double what they did at other media company headquarters in Sydney, where C-level executives also encouraged their people to participate.  She’s pictured here standing outside with the rest of her staff on a windy Sydney day. That experience completely aligns with everything else I know about Michelle Guthrie. She is one of the finest leaders I have ever met, or had the privilege of working under. I would gladly work in any organization she leads. *The opinions in here are the author’s own and to not reflect those of the US Department of Defense, or Alphabet Inc or its subsidiaries.

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