Invincible & Inspiring
The invincible Melissa Drew dons many caps, all of which are inspiring! A Global Authority in Data by profession, Melissa is also a Board Member, Keynote Speaker, Author, International Consultant, and a Cancer Warrior. A true visionary, she is someone who constantly reinvents herself with aplomb.
“It has been a challenge to pave my own path and not stay in a straight line, which probably would have been so much easier. I am constantly redefining what success looks like and what it means to me, and not relying on someone else to define it for me. That has been both my weakness and my strength,” she shares.
Her other constant has been sheer hard work. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Melissa frequently held 3 jobs to cover rent, tuition, books, transportation, and food. Eventually, she found it better to start her own company helping businesses focus on 2 primary areas – 1. Improving their quality of data to make better informed decisions about cost reduction and 2. Using data to identify new or improve revenue streams.
While seeking her Master’s Degree in Management Information Systems, Melissa received a grant which was used to develop the 1st online public database to capture and store supplier information. This established the inception for automating the supplier and sourcing process and became the starting point to her entire career.
She witnessed the importance of working with Data as the foundation to support real transformation. She achieved global recognition for her exceptional performance, leadership, and influence. She also emerged as a frequent speaker (domestic and international) for conferences and fortune 50 companies and will soon become a published author.
Some of her global honours include:
- Leading Voice in Data, CDO magazine
- Top 25 Global Consultants, Excellence in Leadership, Consulting Magazine
- Women in Technology, Connected World
- Top 100 Pros to Know, Supply & Demand Chain Executive
- Global Leaders in Consulting, Excellence in Influence, Consulting Magazine
- Top 50 Thought Leaders and Influences You Should Work with in 2023, Thinkers360
- Women Thought Leaders to Follow in 2023, Thinkers360
“My passion is I still want to learn more, do more, to experience more, and to travel more. Now that I have 2 daughters, I want to do it all again with them and have someone to share stories with afterwards,” reflects Melissa.
One of her biggest challenges was – how to set up her daughters for success and understand what that really means in our modern world. However, she need not have worried. “When one of my girls was 10, I noticed she was happy, like all the time, like exhaustingly happy. When I asked her one day, why she was happy, she said ‘how can I be happy about anything else, if I am not happy myself’? This taught me that inspiration can come from anywhere, at any age, and at any time.”
What she probably doesn’t realise is that Melissa herself is a role model for many. In 2022, the World Economic Forum mentioned that if we did nothing more than what we are doing today, it would take another 150 years for gender parity to be equal. A vocal advocate for female support groups at work, Melissa adds, “Some aspects are still challenging, such as culture. We have adopted a paradigm where people hire and work with others who are more like themselves. Over time, this has evolved into organizations with unbalanced perspectives where managers believe having an opinion or an alternative thought process are signs of confrontation. Yes, things are changing slowly. We must also realise what looks good on paper does not always translate into providing a comprehensive support system behind the scenes.”
This global perspective as well as self awareness is what has made Melissa a winner even in the toughest of times. In 2022, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was an arduous journey with 5 months of chemotherapy, surgery, and 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments. Yet, she surprised herself in several ways. “I had to become more comfortable with reaching out for support from others, and not just for myself but also for my family. While I did work for most of 2022, I also had to make purposeful decisions using my own prioritization framework. In other words, I turned down requests if it wasn’t going to help me with the goals I had outlined for myself, or if my long term health would be impeded in any way. What I learned the most in 2022, was that my value and contributions were not diminished because of my diagnosis.”
“I am a huge advocate in self-awareness and being comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means I am constantly stepping out of my comfort zone”. Decoding it, Melissa says, “I try not to overthink or over analyze. It is better for me to try something and fail, than not try at all. If I fail, that is Ok because I am one step closer to what I want to accomplish. Perhaps my new motto should be ‘it is ok to fail forward’.”