Michelle Arieta

Cues and Views

Passionate HR leader Michelle Arieta, in brief.

Michelle Arieta

Home: Pacifica, CA.  Birthplace: Greenbrae, CA.  Profession: Human Resources.  Organization: Domino Data Lab.  Title: Chief People Officer.  Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.  Significant other: My husband, best friend and partner in crime, Franco.  Alma mater: UC Berkeley (B.A., Biology).

Describe your professional role: At the heart of it, day in and day out my role is in the service of employees and, in turn, is about how supporting employees provides support for our overarching company strategy.  What’s been your big (or biggest leap)? Moving from HR related sales early in my career to HR and in house talent.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Hobbies: Camping (we have a pop-up camper), hiking, cooking, surfing.  Last book read: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  

What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Driven.  Moral compass: Summum bonum, Latin for “the highest good”.  For the Roman philosopher Cicero, the aim of all ethical deliberation and action.  How do you define a perfect friendship? All in, patient and forgiving. What is your greatest joy? Spending time with my kids doing something new for the first time.  Learning together.  What is your greatest fear? Mice.  I really don't like them.  Apart from that, as a working mother, I worry about balancing all of it and the sacrifices made and yet to be made.  What is your guilty pleasure? Bottomless guacamole and chips.  What is your go-to workout? A very long walk on the beach with our labradoodle, Chewbacca.

What was your first paying job? At sixteen, as a lab tech at San Francisco State.  What was your favorite college course? Anthropology.  What was your favorite childhood toy or game? Trading Post, a made up game where my sisters and I traded small treasures with each other.  Great training for future negotiations.  Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? My paternal grandfather.  What’s the best advice you received growing up? Keep your word.  This becomes harder and harder to do with competing priorities, but relationships are about maintaining honesty and loyalty.  What’s the best advice you received in your career? Always do the right thing (even when it is hard).  

What message do you want to send out into the world?

“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible.  And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others” (Amelia Earhart).  I want young girls and women to act young and often and not be afraid of failure, just because it has not been done before by someone or even a woman.  

What widely held belief do you reject? That being uncomfortable is a not good thing.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  This will help you grow, push limits on divergent thinking and bring others along with you.  I wish I had understood this sooner.  What mega-trend most excites you? Pay transparency.

What title would you choose for the movie about your life? Marathon: The Five-Minute Mile. Who would you like to spend an evening with, in heaven? My dad.  As a kid, what did you first want to be when you grew up? A marine biologist. What advice would you give your younger self? Go slow to go fast, it’s not a race.

Personal mission: Inspiring and enabling leaders to be ‘force multipliers’ within their organization, in order to help create and strengthen culture.  Favorite quote: “If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?” (Vince Lombardi).

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