Susan Saideman

Board Member, FIRST Washington


Susan G. Saideman has accelerated growth by launching positive change in global enterprises like Amazon and Mars. Most recently, she led Amazon’s European fashion business based in London with 400+ staff in 6 countries. Saideman was integral to the launch of Prime Wardrobe in the UK, Germany and Japan and improving product pages through machine learning. Prior to Amazon, she led businesses for Mars, Mikasa, Campbell Soup and held positions in Strategy and Finance at Campbell Soup, PepsiCo and Bain & Company. She came back to Seattle in 2019 to pursue her passion for encouraging more girls and underrepresented minorities to pursue technology educations and careers.

Saideman also serves on the board of directors of FIRST Washington. In her service for both FIRST Washington and Harvey Mudd College, she hopes to inspire the next generations to embrace careers in technology and to create a more diverse environment.

She graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in economics and Harvard Business School with an MBA. She lives in Seattle, Washington where she enjoys cooking, entertaining, running, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given

Don’t try to be perfect. It is an impossible goal and you will always fail. Be comfortable with not knowing everything to make decisions, make recommendations or answer questions. Learn what different situations require. Trust your intuition to close the gap between the information available and making that decision or recommendation.

2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given

I was told to stay in finance roles and not try to switch to a career in general management as I would likely become a CFO of a large company if I continued in finance. I was told that changing was risky and that I might lose the strong positive momentum in my career. I decided not to listen to this advice as I wanted to find out if I enjoyed being a General Manager with P&L responsibility and if I would be good at it. I did not want to regret not trying. I found that I enjoyed general management and have since had a successful career as a general manager in different companies in different consumer categories achieving more than I ever imagined. I have loved my career and being a GM.

3. What would you tell your younger self?

While it is important to work hard and do your job well, it is also important to network and meet other people. Build strategic networks inside and outside your company. Others need to know you in order to think of you when opportunities arise. And, others can provide advice that helps accelerate your impact. It also feels good to help others. Don’t be shy. Remember to help other women. Also, don’t forget to invest in the areas outside of work that you are passionate about – friends, family, fitness, giving back, hobbies, travel, whatever. You will need to set your own boundaries and priorities to ensure a full and happy life.

4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?

Anything is possible in the future with technology as an enabler. The world is becoming smaller and more transparent enabled by technology. With the increase in transparency, there is an increase in accountability and equity. And, as we attract more diversity to the world of technology, there will be more innovation and challenges solved.

5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

The girls that I am meeting through my work attracting more women to technology careers. They are fearless and interested in making a difference in the world while staying true to themselves. They believe anything is possible and are excited about the challenges ahead of them. They ask challenging questions and are ready to work together to help make a positive difference in the world. Their energy infuses me with hope for the future and the innovations they will create.

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