In honor of the “150 Years of Women at Berkeley” project, Each day until Aug. 18 Berkeley News will host a series of Q&As featuring 18 unsung heroines on staff from all corners of the campus. The series will culminate on Aug. 18 with a special edition of Berkeley Campus Conversations, featuring four remarkable female staffers:
- Cruz Grimaldo, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office
- Sunny Lee, assistant vice chancellor and dean of students
- Mia Settles-Tidwell, assistant vice chancellor in the Division of Equity and Inclusion
- Charmin Smith, head coach of Cal women’s basketball
The ninth woman honored as part of this series is Cynthia Weekley, executive director of the Engineering Research Support Organization at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineeringnews. .
You were nominated for being “absolutely inspirational.” You’ve been known to back up your staff, believe in them and empower them. This has earned you a reputation as a “fearless leader” in ERSO (Engineering Research Support Organization) for having always led the department with professionalism and care. Staff share, “I have been with ERSO for most of my 5+ years at UCB and a large part is due to Cynthia and being inspired by what an amazing boss and overall person she is.” How have you gone about becoming an inspirational and fearless leader? (And if you faced any obstacles, how did you overcome them?)
I’m honored to be considered an inspirational and fearless leader. I don’t always feel that way. My approach has always been to work hard for the people on my team. I listen and care about what is important to them and value their opinions and thoughts. It’s my responsibility to serve them in the best way that I can. I get my inspiration from them.
What advice would you give to other staff members looking to move individuals, teams, units, or improvements forward at UC Berkeley?
I always think about the kind of experience I am creating with every interaction that I have. I try to create experiences of partnership, support and service. I try to understand the core of problems and search for simple solutions by involving others who have more knowledge than me. With this approach, I hope to create value for the team, my unit and for the campus at large.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with other female staff on campus?
I really believe that working hard and smart is the secret sauce. I think it is important to ask questions and not be afraid to say you do not know something; that’s how you learn and grow. And always dress for the job you want, not the one you have!