“How we recover is how we grow as individuals and businesses.”- Michelle Bajwa
Michelle Bajwa is Co-founder of Integris, Managing Partner of ApprenticeIT and Director of Human Resources at Bizratings.com/360score.me. Over the last 20 years, Michelle evolved from software systems design and integration to team development and management with a focus on positive interpersonal interactions. In addition to cultivating her teams and businesses, Michelle’s passion extends to the broader empowerment of women through her position on the Board of Directors of Womanspace, a non-profit dedicated to the support of victims of domestic violence.
Michelle leads an active lifestyle as a runner and enjoys meditation, yoga, hiking, and volunteering for various community-centered and charitable efforts with her family.
Changing Paths from what your parents want you to do with your life.
Michelle was getting pushed down the science path by her parents. She wasn’t very passionate about it and felt like it was torture. Michelle’s interest was in English, Creative Writing, and Poetry, so switching from science to liberal arts rocked the boat of her family. After debating this, she convinced herself even more that she wanted to switch her major to pre-law. Michelle started her career at a law firm just as companies were getting access to the internet. AOL started at $19.95 on a CD.
Everyone at the law office had a computer on their desk but no one was using it to network. Noticing a ton of money being wasted on the purchasing of legal paper and printing, she was able to let them know that this can be done on Microsoft Word to save the firm time and money.
Looking back 5 years, Michelle was on the forefront of Document Management & Automation.
Michelle realized she enjoyed the technical aspect of providing IT support more than the actual mechanics of law. Michelle and Rashaad (husband) got their first “taste” of business when Rashaad got a speeding ticket and asked Michelle’s boss if they could barter services.
In return, Michelle and Rashaad would set-up a peer-to-peer (P2P) network and get the firm on the internet. Everyone in the office could share one internet access point for the same cost. The momentum was catching on with Yahoo and search terms, stocks, weather and more.
Building trust as a young-women was hard to do in an old industry. Being in the IT industry however would prove to work in their favor. Finally focusing on results, the process, and educating the customers on their own workflows, Michelle was able to prove herself by holding herself accountable. A big part of IT consulting, is not just checking boxes, but truly understanding the customer and what they need to get done and helping them get there.
Maturity comes with time and progression over successes and failures.
1. Their edge in the business was that they were pleasant to be around, easy to communicate with, and got the job done.
2. By being a perfectionist and sweating every detail, failure came really hard. The shift happened when they realized to take emotion out of it and learn from those failures and shift their prospective on how to get better.
3. When working in a customer service industry, you have a job because they are frustrated. It is your job to stay calm, research solutions, and execute on them.
4. Learning how to manage a team is the second hardest part of building a business. Transparency and Patience is how to best manage everything. “How we recover is how we grow as individuals and businesses.”
5. To Maintain Work Life Balance- Surround yourself with a really great support system. The mothers around are juggling 5-6 things at any one time. We are really good at micro-tasking and being transparent about when we can’t deliver.
6. Have patience with yourself and if you don’t have the answer, know how to ask for help.