Michelle Peluso: Achieve Work/Life Balance, Even in the C-Suite

May 22 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: Redefining Marketing

Posters on telephone poles, billboards on the highway, commercials during prime time, sponsored social-media stories: These are all forms of marketing, but I’ve begun to notice a little more about what attracts and keeps loyal customers. It isn’t ad placement or celebrity endorsements; it’s authenticity. Millennials, who are quickly becoming the biggest and most powerful consumer group, can sniff out counterfeit realness with one swipe. Whether you’re a one-woman show or part of a billion-dollar brand, remember to stay true to yourself, to your values. Respect your clientele by being honest and treating them as more than a data point on a spreadsheet.


Have you ever seen a marketing campaign for a tech company that was geared toward women or moms and known immediately that not a single gal was polled before rollout? That’s super-frustrating, right? As we well know, women have been integral to the tech world in all aspects, from tech PR to IT, and our influence is, well, influential! Thankfully, one longtime tech giant realized that long ago. At IBM, women have been contributing to the success of the company and to the advancement of information technology since darn near its inception. In fact, since the 1930s, IBM has employed women to serve in a variety of roles, soon accruing so many female employees that it created the IBM Women’s Education Division.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Michelle Peluso, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at IBM

While we could spend a whole month talking about some of the fabulous women at IBM, one in particular caught my eye and I’m thrilled to share her story with you. Michelle Peluso is the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at IBM. The century-old company with nearly 400,000 employees and a value of more than $140 billion is what professionals would call a holy-cannoli-that’s-a-really-ginormous-and-almighty company. You know, the technical term.

But in the modern age, even a well-established company like IBM has to be flexible and focused enough to speak to consumers in a way they can connect with. It's no surprise then that Michelle’s role at IBM is entirely new. She’s the company’s first-ever CMO. Let’s travel the path of how a girl from Middletown, N.Y., got to such a prestigious seat. From starting her own travel-focused company in the late 1990s to working as CEO for both Travelocity and online-shopping company Gilt, Michelle has always emphasized the importance of her management style. While at Travelocity, she’d keep employees keyed into company decisions and respond to emails within 24 hours. She’d hold brown-bag lunch meetings and walk the halls just to be present.

That purposefulness translates to her home life too. Michelle took 10 weeks of maternity leave when she had her daughter, all while still ruling as CEO at Travelocity, something that expectant mothers working for her took note of. At IBM, she’s clear about dividing professional and personal time, and makes sure to leave the office by 5 p.m. Now that’s some work/life balance every woman should strive for.

Michelle credits her father with instilling her remarkable work ethic. While she says he never gave her direct career advice, he did something much more powerful: He led by example. His keen interest in his employees’ well-being helped grow his environmental-engineering startup to a 300-person company. And when he decided to tackle a new venture, more than half his former employees sent him their resumes. The most important lesson Michelle learned from her dad is that caring about those who work for you can go a long, long way.

Being agile is critical to business success. Go to www.OnTheDotWoman.com for our four tips on upping your management game.


We love when our Woman to Watch inspires our quote of the day. Take these words from Michelle Peluso to the office:

“Be bold, embrace risks, do the hard things and just have grace. Pick yourself back up.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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