Sharp’s Mehryn Corrigan: “Take the time to listen; Learn about each of your team members and what their short- and long-term career goals are”
…it’s just about taking the time to listen. Learn about each of your team members and what their short- and long-term career goals are. Knowing this and aligning them with opportunities that provide them with a chance to grow towards their desired path is, in my experience, the most important thing that people are looking for. Leveraging their strengths and allowing them an opportunity to improve on their weaknesses is what teamwork is all about.
I had the pleasure to interview Mehryn Corrigan. Mehryn is the Associate Director of Strategic Alliances at Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America. As Associate Director, Strategic Alliances, Mehryn takes new initiatives on product categories and solutions that involve partnerships with other manufacturers by developing both the path to market and the programs to support that effort. She represents a cross-divisional resource that helps to operationally support multiple functions within Sharp. In addition, Mehryn supports the outsourced operations and logistics projects for Sharp distributors across all commercial channels, as well as the sales operations for distribution in the professional display category.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I actually started my career in merchandising in the fashion industry. It was an incredibly fast-paced business that really taught me a great deal about analytics, business planning and negotiation. I was interested in transitioning to IT because of the innovation of the business. I might be wrong, but I started to feel like fashion could only re-invent itself so many times and I just needed a change. I found an opportunity in Product Management in IT distribution and I felt that not only would my strengths be of great value, but I would have an opportunity to grow personally. I never imagined I’d find myself in the IT industry, but I absolutely love it because it is so fast paced and cutting edge.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
In my leadership role, I’ve been given the opportunity to have three interns support me in the past few years. Each of them had completely different backgrounds and strengths — one from USF St. Petersburg, focused on entrepreneurship, another from USF Tampa seeking their Masters in Business Analytics and another from University of Tampa, focused on Marketing. Each of these people made a major impact on our organization. I’m proud of each of their contributions and feel I was able to offer some mentorship on their respective career paths. Each of them has found early success in their careers and I’m confident that they will be future leaders in our industry. Embracing millennials and empowering them can provide great benefits to not only to the individual but those surrounding them. Each of them brought me a great deal of energy, creativity and inspiration and I’m so thankful for that.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I can tell you there were quite a few. Being given the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them in an environment that doesn’t punish you for it is something I was very fortunate to have. When I was a shoe buyer in the fashion industry, I was given the opportunity to review a brand called ‘Crocs’ during a product planning meeting. At the time, I knew nothing of them and just didn’t see it as a fit for our audience from my perspective, so I passed. Boy, was I wrong! It taught me a great deal about perspective, needing to evaluate things from all angles and knowing your audience. Passing on them was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are not many companies that can say they have been in business for over 100 years, let alone one that is focused on technology. Sharp is an inspiration in that we continue to constantly focus on innovation and our product portfolio has evolved so dramatically over the course of our long history. I was proud to have represented Sharp at CES 2019 and was inspired not only by the innovation represented but the vast range of products we bring to market across the globe — from home kitchen products, to 8K digital signage, PC’s, robotics, broadcast, smart pet products, smart office, air purifiers — the list goes on! It was absolutely incredible and an example of our motto ‘Be Sharp’, which I interpret as always being on the cutting edge.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
As Associate Director of Strategic Alliances, I partner with other companies to create innovative solutions. I’m currently working with Microsoft to bring out a new product called the Windows Collaboration Display. This product is one that will disrupt the collaboration space. It is ultimately meant to address the problem that, on average it takes 10 minutes to start a meeting — what a waste of resources! With many of the reasons for delays in meetings being attributed to connecting to equipment within a room or enabling a video conference call, this product will not only address that, but it also has the ability to monitor the meeting space with an IoT sensor. Our Windows Collaboration Display has the ability to provide our customers the information to know how their meeting spaces are being used and how meeting spaces are performing for those that use them. Optimizing space, lighting, temperature, and air quality is something that will become more and more important as organizations continue to dedicate additional resources to collaboration due to things like remote work or more team based projects.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I don’t know that this is a male/female thing necessarily — it’s just about taking the time to listen. Learn about each of your team members and what their short- and long-term career goals are. Knowing this and aligning them with opportunities that provide them with a chance to grow towards their desired path is, in my experience, the most important thing that people are looking for. Leveraging their strengths and allowing them an opportunity to improve on their weaknesses is what teamwork is all about.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
In a large team, it is helpful to always have a delegate or two to back you up and is able to begin taking on leadership responsibilities. In my experience, having two is helpful because each may have different strengths to bring to the table. I started my career on the other side of this equation and it gave me motivation to grow. In a way, it set up a competitive environment, which for me is where I perform best. As a manager and even as a soccer coach, I’ve seen the other side, where some people enjoy and thrive in that competitive growth environment and some don’t. Either way, it’s important to understand where people are coming from and keep communication open and consistent.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Growing up, I was really busy playing travel soccer and I used to spend a great deal of time in the car with my dad. Over the years, he gave me great advice on how to deal with obstacles and constantly fed my competitive spirit, helping me feel like anything was possible and within reach. I remember being upset about not making the cut on an Olympic development team one year. I was upset and wanted to leave, but he made sure I followed up and asked the coaches what I could improve on for next year before we left, which was a lesson in and of itself honestly. Then, in the car on the way home, once I had my wits about me, he told me not to blame the coaches — it was my fault that there was ever any doubt in their mind that I had the talent to be on the team. It was up to me to eliminate any doubts that these evaluators had next year. It was personal and I was so motivated I could feel it in my teeth, so I put everything I had into it and ended up making it the next year. To this day, it is one of my proudest accomplishments and I don’t think I would have found that passion if it wasn’t for my dad.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.” It’s a pretty simple quote that I came across early in life and its something I always refer back to when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed. Spending any energy on stressing just takes away from the energy you could spend on actually taking action and getting things done.