Maggie Ruvoldt on Work/Life Integration

March 11, 2016

Maggie Ruvoldt

SLC Speaker Maggie Ruvoldt shares how she supports other women.

Maggie Ruvoldt is executive vice president and general manager at 2U, Inc., an education technology company that partners with nonprofit colleges and universities to deliver online degree programs.

Which female leader do you most admire? In what way has she driven change?

Justice Marie Garibaldi of N.J. She is from my hometown of Jersey City, among the first class of women to attend Columbia Law, the first woman on the N.J. Supreme Court and the first woman president of the N.J. state bar association. Everywhere she found a barrier, she looked for and found another way in. She is universally considered to have raised the bar of thoughtful opinion writing on the N.J. Supreme Court. Her legacy also includes the cadre of leaders in the legal community whom she mentored from among her law clerks.

What would you say is the most "daring" move you've made in your career?

I had a moment in a meeting with a former CEO where I challenged him when others didn't. I started with "in my opinion." He shouted that was wrong and I replied that I couldn't be wrong about my own opinion but that we could debate the validity of the assessment by which I arrived at it. It changed the nature of our relationship for the better and I was promoted (rather than fired) shortly thereafter.

What did you learn from that experience?

Being confident in my convictions is worth the risk. Being fearless when disagreeing with leadership is valued. Other than doing something illegal, there is no such thing as a career mistake from which you cannot recover so be bold or go home.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten along the way?

Every day you wake up and see one face in the mirror. That is the person whose opinion is the most important; don't compromise her to impress others.

If you could change one way women support other women on their path to success, what would it be?

Let’s ditch the badge of honor about the sacrifices we made on our way up and advocate for change rather than expecting others make those sacrifices as well. Women can be tougher on other women or more judgmental than we should be. Secretary Albright said there is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. I think there is also a place for women who rather than lead change, require the women coming up behind them to surmount the same challenges, as if it were a right of passage or the price of admission.

What major issue or current event do you think women should really focus on to effect change?

Opening up the inner networks for other women. When you break into the smaller, unofficial network, don't close the door behind you.

Any tips for work/life integration?

You can't have it all – no one can. You can have what's important and you're already dedicating time to what's important without realizing it. Stop apologizing or justifying your priorities.

If you could dine with anyone, past or present, with whom would you dine and what would you like to ask him or her?

Jane Goodall and I’d ask if I could accompany her on a trip to the Gombe Stream Research Center. She's my childhood hero.

What was the last book you read?

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era.

Fill in the blank. People would be surprised to know that I ______

am actually incredibly shy by nature.