#LeadLikeAWoman with Sue Garrity

Senior Director of Information Systems & Technology at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

In my experience, we need role models. It’s difficult to work toward equity when you don’t see faces that look like yours at the table. I don’t like to generalize, but I’ve found teams with women working more swiftly and efficiently.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is the ability to bring together a team to make something happen. Sometimes the “something” is small and sometimes it has tremendous impact. But bringing the team together to accomplish something meaningful is the key.

Who has influenced your idea of leadership?

Definitely my maternal grandmother who marched for women’s right to vote when she was a young teacher. As a widow, she went to the school superintendent to ask why she wasn’t being paid as much as the male teachers – she was told that was because the men had to support their families. And, we still have work to do on the issue of equity in pay.

Also, my mother-in-law who never met a project she wouldn’t take on – she’s still on point with that at the age of 85 after spending her retirement years coordinating Food Bank distributions, tutoring students at the elementary school, going on mission trips and being the Spartan women’s basketball and volleyball teams’ biggest fan.

Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What do they add to the table?

In my experience, we need role models. It’s difficult to work toward equity when you don’t see faces that look like yours at the table. I don’t like to generalize, but I’ve found teams with women working more swiftly and efficiently. Viewing your time as a critical resource as you combine full-time work, supporting and nurturing a family and community volunteerism comes very naturally.

How are you leading in your career/community?

In the past I’ve served on a committee reviewing technology changes for our school district, led my daughter’s Girl Scout troop for 13 years and volunteered in a number of ways at the school and in my church. I led a team that raised funds to restart a freshman boys’ basketball team in Bath.

On a larger scale, in 2013 my indoctrination into the world of libraries began – we didn’t have a library in Bath and the township authorized funds for an experimental Library Center staffed with part time employees. As one of the founding members of the Friends of the Library (a 501c3 if any of you have money you’d like to contribute!), I worked with a team that ultimately won millage funding for an actual public library in Bath. That was November of 2017; shortly after that I was appointed to the library board and served as President. It’s a huge honor to work with a diverse team of community members to create a library from scratch. We have a fabulous staff and seeing the impact they are having with their programming makes me incredibly proud.

Oh – and then there’s work! I’ve been at the Michigan Chamber since 1992, and my role has grown with our technology use. As the person managing technology implementation projects over the years I’ve worked to set an example for positive change. Without change it’s difficult to grow – personally or professionally. It’s exciting work, with new challenges around every corner, and it’s my job to help our team learn to use the ever-evolving tools they have at their disposal. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I’m lucky to have enjoyed a variety of great vendor relationships over the years; I’m a proponent of nurturing those relationships to lift all of us up. And bit by bit, I’m seeing more female faces in tech companies!

What is the best way for someone to contact you?

Regarding Chamber or technology matters, sgarrity@michamber.com; regarding library matters, sgarrity@bathtownshippubliclibrary.org.