This blog post is included as part of the “Her Story” series, which celebrates the stories of pivotal women in our students' lives that inspire, motivate and embolden them. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the ideas, views or opinions of LAAF.org.   


A Beacon of Success

Jessica Patton

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Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream and board member of Verizon, Nordstrom and Okta, embodies all of the qualities of a legacy leader. I attended Howard University with Shellye’s son, Kheaton Scott, and we became good friends. When I moved to the Bay Area with my husband to attend the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Kheaton insisted that we make his family our own and that is how I got to know Shellye and her husband Scotty.

From tips on her blog about work-life integration, to taking calculated risks and being heard in business, to mentoring women and people of color to help them capitalize on opportunities, Shellye is consistently uplifting others. As a woman of color, Shellye is a beacon of success for individuals who have traditionally lacked equal access to leadership positions and she speaks openly and honestly about her experiences.

I admire Shellye for more reasons than I could fit into a single blog post. Shellye has particularly influenced me in three areas:

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  1. Shellye makes the time to help. Amidst multiple board memberships, speaking engagements and family commitments, Shellye has opened up her home to my husband and me multiple times for a sensational home-cooked meal. When I have reached out for help, Shellye has done whatever she can to help me including providing pointed advice on equity splits and facilitating connections to leaders.

  2. Shellye’s productivity hacks have improved my quality of life. Shelly’s blog is full of time saving tips. A few of my favorites involve optimizing your commute, such as preparing for a presentation by recording your speech and listening to it on the commute, or putting on clear nail polish before a drive to optimize drying time. My absolute favorite tip is getting a shorter haircut to gain extra hours of productivity (this is particularly meaningful for people with textured hair). While I haven’t done a big hair chop, I definitely cut my hair shorter and more often to reduce time lost.

  3. Shellye is proof that challenges of any size are surmountable. A week after a terrible car accident and a surgical heart procedure, Shellye wrote about the importance of having a village on her blog. She did not spend her recovery time in sorrow but instead spent the time thanking her friends and family for their support. Shellye is open about the fact that her husband has been battling terminal cancer for over 7 years. As his wife and primary caregiver, Shellye focuses on the opportunity to live every day to the fullest instead of focusing on sickness. Shellye is a true beacon of strength and resilience. Through her, I have come to understand that the trick to overcoming challenges is in the approach.

I plan to carry Shellye’s leadership legacy forward through the areas mentioned above but also by:

  1. Setting higher goals. Shellye knew she wanted to be a CEO at 16 and continued to press toward her goal until she reached it. By setting big hairy goals and sticking with them, I know that I will achieve more for my family and for the world.

  2. Mentoring others, especially women of color, and supporting my village of family and friends whenever and however I can.