• Amber McClave

    Amber McClave
    Vice President, Operations/General Counsel 

    Describe your role as VP, Operations/General Counsel.

    This role can be summed up as “wearer of many hats.” I work with the executive team to establish company goals, policies and vision globally. Each vice president then works directly with his or her departments. I’m ultimately responsible for our information technology, corporate services (accounting/finance and contracts), human resources and facilities departments. The leaders in each area are the true experts in their fields and execute the company’s goals and strategies. My role is to give them what they need to succeed. Sometimes that means redirection on how to reach a goal. Oftentimes, it simply means listening, communicating direction from the VPs, and supporting their work. Now that I’ve transitioned from the legal side to the operational side and we own our own building, facilities management is front and center. I’m learning there is always something going on with a 65,000-square foot building!  

    What is the hardest part of your job and how do you tackle challenges?

    With so many facets to this role, focusing on any one area and giving it the attention it deserves is a challenge. I’m usually pulled in a few different directions at the same time, so I’m always compartmentalizing my day and trying to focus on an issue long enough to add real value. Meditation has been life-altering for my focus and well-being, so I try to schedule it daily.

    How do you enter the law field?

    Other than law in general, I never set out to enter into any particular field. When I was practicing law in a large firm, I ended up in the construction litigation department. I had no construction background and knew little at first of the legal landscape, but I fit with the culture of that group, straight-talking, high-energy decision-makers. Prior to the law firm, however, I had our first child. Actually, I walked into the bar exam a day overdue with our first son. After reassuring the horrified paramedic – they have one at every bar exam for panic attacks, etc. – that my husband was holed up in a hotel room where we were located and could drive me to the hospital if needed, I proceeded to take the two-day exam. We moved to Jacksonville when our first was 10 days old and I started working at the law firm 10 weeks later. A few months later I was pregnant again. After three years of practice at the firm and two in diapers, I was ready for a change. My husband and I both had several options that we struggled over for weeks. We knew joining the family company was a leap of faith. I chose the company for its people more than the subject-matter of the work itself. Info Tech as a technology company didn’t lure me, but the people, the company’s values, and its mission to genuinely add value to the greater society through its work, hooked me. I was able to bring my experience to the company and help develop its corporate and legal infrastructure at the right time for its growth. As I learned the business, my role evolved into much less legal work and now into the overall operations management of the company. I’m still on the learning curve, but I’d be bored otherwise.

    What are your strengths and how have you identified them?

    I can assess a situation, avoid any occurring drama and emotional reactions, make a decision and support it. That doesn’t mean a 100 percent success rate on decisions, but it’s high enough to earn trust, and I know how to pivot when needed. I identified these well before and outside of the professional world. I knew this at a young age when friends and adults sought my opinion. My intuition is probably my greatest strength, and I’m at an age where I listen to it without hesitation.

    How have your setbacks and weaknesses made you stronger?

    So many mistakes and most were self-inflicted by failing to trust that intuition.

    I keep my ‘circle’ very small. By nature, I’m strong, fiercely independent, protective of my circle, and look for approval from only a handful. I’m also very introverted. I don’t see this changing and none of it is a weakness, but it works all together to make me seem unapproachable. So I’ve learned that I have to reach out and be the one to make other people at ease, and let them see the real deal. I’m just another person like everyone else that’s not ever sure she’s succeeding but trying to be a better person, employee, leader, mother and friend.

    How do you set goals and attain them?

    Setting an attainable vision and measurable goals is a challenge in my area. The development team can meet a production deadline; sales can set revenue goals and customer support can achieve a high call volume with happy customers. The operations teams make up the infrastructure that supports all of the other teams to meet their goals, but identifying and measuring the support teams’ “success” is not always easy. Our success is sometimes the lack of events – no lawsuits, no system failures, no accounting errors, which aren’t as easily recognized or often celebrated. The best thing I can do is pull in the information and input from the people who will be climbing that mountain –if the goal is unrealistic, modify it – and I’ll be the person for my teams who recognizes overlooked goals and accomplishments.

    How do you define what it means to be a fierce woman?

    If I am fierce, it is from standing on the backs of my mother, her mother, my father and many others who paved the way. It is from being supported by a true partner who sought an equal because he was raised by a fierce woman. I was the first person on both sides of my family to graduate from college, much less go on to obtain two postgraduate degrees. My parents stood undeterred in the face of sometimes unimaginable odds, even family members ridiculing their fight for their children to have more and simply, made it happen. And they did so while joyously helping everyone else they could (family members, employees, people that we barely knew but just asked for help) along the way. I didn’t realize until I was older that other girls’ dads didn’t raise them to be fierce – maybe their mom, but not their dad. I was expected to be strong, successful, smart as well as kind and gracious. It was never a question as to whether I was an equal to any partner I may choose or business associate I may encounter. A fierce woman will make the dream happen, will help others along the way and will raise her children to do the same.