Co-Founder, Women in Technology Wisconsin, Inc.
TechSpark Wisconsin Manager, Microsoft
Location: Outagamie County, WI
You can never predict how the professional dominoes will fall or which connection will lead to that next great opportunity. Michelle Schuler — co-founder and president of Women In Technology, Wisconsin, Inc. (WIT) — said it’s important to surround yourself with the people you want to emulate. In her case, launching a nonprofit eventually led to a job with Microsoft, something she admits she never could have predicted.
“Surround yourself with people that you aspire to be,” she said. “In these people you will find natural mentors. These mentors will see strengths in you before you see them in yourself. They will help guide you in ways you never thought possible.”
WIT is a nonprofit organization aiming to attract, grow and retain women of all ages in technology-related careers. WIT collaborates with Wisconsin professionals, companies and communities to help women in technology of all ages and stages — from the classroom to the boardroom. It provides leadership development, technology education, networking and mentoring opportunities for women and girls.
Schuler launched WIT in 2015 to help women and girls thrive in the digital economy. Soon after, Microsoft was looking for someone to lead their new community engagement effort, TechSpark, and reached out to Schuler, who is now TechSpark’s regional director in Appleton. With Microsoft’s global network of resources and WIT’s connections to Wisconsin nonprofits, for-profits, academics and government leaders, the two operations collaborate to encourage all individuals to thrive in the digital economy.
“If someone would’ve told me that starting a nonprofit would lead me to my job at Microsoft, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Schuler said. “My mentors encouraged me to follow my vision and create a career around building communities that drive societal impact. They believed in my vision before I could see it myself.”
Schuler is the co-chair of New North, helping to lead a board of 40 executives across an 18-county region who set the direction for the organization, which covers a population of 1.28 million residents. The mission of New North is to be a catalyst for regional prosperity by creating regional strategic initiatives for business and talent development.
“I believe that serving on boards allows me to share my voice with other organizations as they build their business,” Schuler said. “Board service gives me the satisfaction that I contribute to a cause, it allows me to partner with others to make a real difference.”
Michelle enjoys the outdoors with her family and makes the most out of snowmobiling with her husband two adult children. She takes work very seriously but understands the importance of work-life balance.