The Happy Engineer Podcast

020: Leave a Legacy with Tammy Bohen

Is your childhood the start of your failures, or the source of your fuel? Where do you find the greatest compound return on investment in personal development? How can you be part of the solution to gender bias in engineering?

In this episode, we touch challenging topics and I know you will benefit from every word. Get ready to meet Tammy Bohen, the Chief Human Resources Officer at SVP Worldwide. Her heart for people, combined with her incredible results, have changed her family tree forever.

If you want to leave a legacy as an engineer, tune in now.

In her career, Tammy has helped shape best-in-class employee experiences, engagement and business performance in global leadership positions for several world-class organizations including KitchenAid, Whirlpool Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Lear Corporation, and now SVP Worldwide.

But at the end of the day, she simply loves to travel and learn, changing lives along the way!

So press play and let’s chat… it’s time to make a positive change in the OACO family tree.


The Happy Engineer Podcast




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It didn’t take long for Tammy to get honest and vulnerable with us about sharing that both her parents were dropouts. Her father was illiterate, the kind of disadvantage that most people would gladly use as an excuse for not reaching success as the world may define it in their life. I couldn’t be more impressed by how Tammy took that and said, I knew I wanted something different.

I was blessed. I had love, I had family, but we didn’t have money. Education was replaced by love and family. I took the best of what I had, but I got curious and I was willing to do the work. Did you hear from Tammy – that willingness to take the key life lesson from parents who may not have had advantages like you and I had growing up, but who were willing to do whatever it takes and do the work to take care of their family.

Maybe you’re just like Tammy, you grew up in a household where you were disadvantaged in whatever way. Listen to the mindset of someone who has now reached the absolute pinnacle of leadership in a global organization. The mindset about my past is what changed the trajectory of my life.

My upbringing is my advantage. That is true for Tammy Bohen. And it is true for you. Your past is your advantage. If you will shift your mindset into truly believing that and start exploring your past with that mindset, your past meaning yesterday and all the way back to your childhood years, your past is your advantage.

And inside of every challenge, every “failure” is the same opportunity to have that advantage, just waiting to grow. If you will water it and nurture it, start looking at your past that way and you become unstoppable. This is a place where a great coach can help you. If this is something you really struggle with, then I would encourage you to get help with it.

“What do you really want out of life?” is a question that has come up with a lot of our guests. I hope you understand why… It’s because most of you are not doing the deep-thinking required to actually answer that question. That alone is a reason to invest in yourself, because sometimes if you don’t put some skin in the game, then you will never make it a priority. So invest in yourself, get the answer to these questions. 

One really important thing people forget to ask, is how do you know if you’re doing what you really want to do – versus doing what you think you’re supposed to do, based on what other people say, or what society dictates you should do by defining a “normal” path to success, or definition of success.

But it’s not up to society, or your parents, friends, family, or significant other to define what your success looks like, or how you should achieve it. So you need to find your passion. Do what lights you up. 

So you need to ask that question. What you’re doing now, does it light you up? Does it bring that energy and passion that fuel into your life? Do you feel the zest, the creativity, the passion flowing?

So many of you are going to respond to that question by saying, well, no, my work does not light me up, but it never has. And the things that do light me up, I can’t do those for my career.

You know, I have an engineering degree and what lights me up is surfing on the weekends, going mountain biking, playing chess, etc. And you say, well, Zach, I can’t do that for a living. I still have to be an engineer. I work to live. I don’t live to work. 

Okay, fine. I understand what you’re saying, but here’s what I want you to realize about what you do all day, every day in your career. If you are never experiencing that light up. You are giving away the biggest chunk of your life’s energy to something that is not going to fuel you and make you happy and feel fulfilled and energized.

And go back to that rocking chair test when you’re eighty five ninety five, one hundred and five, what would you regret more? Ask yourself that question. If you get to that point in your life. Well, you’re on the rocking chair, 85, 95 years old. What are you going to regret? Not having done some of that lighting up, connecting with your passion.

This is an area as engineers, where we have to get a little bit honest with ourselves. A lot of engineers I talked to haven’t been connected with that part of themselves in a long time. And this advice from Tammy, I want you to take action on today, create space for that hobby or that side hustle that you do light up for and start practicing feeling that light-up flow state. 

You need to get familiar with that part of you that feels passion again. If you ever want to find it in your career, if you don’t know how to feel passionate at all, then you’re not going to feel it in your job. So start practicing. That way, when you explore the deep questions with your coach on what you really want out of life, you have that discerning signal of if you’re on track or not.

If you don’t have any signal, then it’s alright. We’re engineers. Do you understand signal-to-noise ratio? If your life is all noise, then you’re going to miss the signals about what you really want. So start getting in touch with those feelings that you have when you’re truly lit up, put it on your calendar and go let loose and enjoy something that you’re passionate about.

Investing in yourself is like compound interest. It’s the eighth wonder of the world, right? Make sure that you’re investing in yourself early and often. It is never too soon in your career to invest in a coach. These areas that Tammy highlighted, I love that she put health first.

It’s true without energy and vitality, you don’t have the fuel to invest into your education and into your career. And let me just put one twist on what Tammy presented, because I also believe in. Trust me, there is no substitute for the right knowledge, but what I’ve also learned is that engineers like you are so focused on investing in education and new skills and new knowledge that you’re putting all your resources into passive action.

Not massive action, but passive action. The difference is that passive action feels like progress, but you’re not actually moving towards your goals. Listening to this podcast is a great example of passive action. You are learning new things, but if you do not take action in your life and in your specific situation with what you learned today, then this passive action will take you nowhere.

So I would encourage you for every hour that you invest in education, invest an hour into action in your life. For every dollar that you invest into education, invest a dollar into great coaching and accountability to get results from that. 

This is so true from my own experience. I love to read, I love to listen to podcasts. I love to learn, and I used to consume knowledge at an unbelievably vigorous pace. Always watching documentaries on TV, always reading books, and it did help… but the real results in my life began when I cut back significantly on how much I consumed in new knowledge and invested 10 times the dollars, the hours and the energy into my coach who helped me to take action.

And now, instead of simply a successful career that I had at Whirlpool corporation as an engineer, I have this incredible company. I have my own team. I’m a partner in a private equity firm where we own dozens of other organizations. I have all of these incredible things going on in my life, in the successes and results that I wanted to create.

I’m happier. I’m more fulfilled. I have stronger relationships. I’ve healed from wounds of my past and have unbelievable energy around my purpose and vision. All of that came 10 fold 100 fold after I focused less on pure education and more on taking action. 

I cannot say this strongly enough: Engineers, don’t fall victim to a passive action lifestyle.

Get a coach, get accountability and get into action. If you want to change your life.

Hey, I have to put in one more plug here before we go for today for the women in engineering. First of all, I love all of you and I just am so thankful for what you’re doing in stepping into that and the challenges and the barriers that may exist. 

I’m so honored by Tammy sharing with us, her heart, around that. For everyone reading this, male or female, ask that question of what you can do to help the ladies. Turn those barriers into fuel.

And for the gentlemen listening, I want you to ask yourself that question that Tammy asked, and really be honest. Am I contributing to the kind of environment at work that I want for my daughter, my sister, or my mother? More than anything, make sure that you get clear on what may exist in your own mind, in the subconscious. Let’s get rid of the bias and let’s be a part of the solution.

You know, Tammy finished with a powerful question. Who can you ask for help? And what I want you to know is that I am one of those people you can ask. I love you. I’m here with you. We’re on this journey together, and if you need help, reach out. It doesn’t mean that you have to sign up for one of our transformational coaching programs and get  totally involved and invest in yourself with money and time.

Just find me on social media. Tag me, ask a question. I mean, I’m on there all the time and I would love the opportunity to share with you, create a video that might help you, or push some resources your way. Make sure that you are out there taking action and asking for help. Myself and the team at OACO are here with you every step of the way.

Previous Episode 19: Get Into Big Tech with Mauricio Nunes




In her current role at SVP Worldwide, Tammy Bohen leads their global People strategy enabling human and business performance. She has held the position since January 2020.

During her over 20-year career in business and human resources, she has led global teams in talent management, leadership development, talent analytics, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion strategies.

Prior to SVP Worldwide, Tammy founded Development by Design, a talent and leadership development consulting firm. She has also held several global leadership positions for world-class organizations including KitchenAid, Whirlpool Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, and Lear Corporation — companies for whom she helped shape best-in-class employee experiences, engagement and business performance. As Global Head of Human Resources at KitchenAid, for example, Tammy created the People Excellence strategy and served on the leadership team of the global business unit. During her time at KitchenAid, the corporation achieved record revenue, market share, productivity, profitability, and cash flow while also maintaining a strong culture, delivering best-in-class engagement and tripling the health of the company’s leadership pipeline. Tammy’s other notable achievements at KitchenAid include doubling the number of women in senior leadership at the company, and helping it achieve global gender parity.

Tammy is certified as a Senior Human Resources Professional through SHRM and the HR Certification Institute. She is a certified leadership and executive coach through the College of Executive Coaching and a certified performance coach through the Human Performance Institute. Tammy holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources (MLIR) from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State University.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: All right. Welcome back engineers. It is a pleasure to be with you today. I’m with one of my good friends and a colleague from my days back in the KitchenAid and Whirlpool organization, Tammy, you just heard all about her amazingly long and impressive bio in developing people and her career. But Tammy, I can’t thank you enough for making time to be with us today.

[00:00:25] It’s awesome to have you here. 

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:27] Tammy Bohen: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. 

[00:00:30] Zach White: Of all the, you know, long lists of accolades on your resume, Tammy, to take us back just to the point in your journey and your story where you really started to feel for the first time, that deep love and connection to developing people.

[00:00:45] I mean, it’s a thread that is woven throughout your entire career in life. It’s so obvious. And it, you know, when people hear from you and interact with you, it’s, you know, you feel it right out of the gate, where did that begin for you? 

[00:00:57] Tammy Bohen: You know, I think that’s a great question. Um, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing.

[00:01:00] It’s just kind of wired into who I am. I love helping, helping, people succeed. I mean, that is like for me, one of my pleasures in life, whether it’s. Friends colleagues. It’s just part of the nature of, of who I am. and I think for me personally, you know what, you don’t see my background and my bio is, you know, education and in my own investment, in my personal development totally changed my life for the better.

[00:01:22] So both of my parents were high school dropouts. Um, they didn’t go to CA you know, they didn’t, my father dropped out in seventh grade. He was illiterate, very smart, man, but didn’t have a formal education. Um, my mother is a fun, this is a funny story. She dropped out in 11th grade, lied about her age, got a, uh, a job with her phone.

[00:01:37] She was 17, got their own apartment and went to work in a factory. And, uh, she did realize that your later, Hey, I probably should at least finish my high school degree. So she went back. She did finish, but she actually didn’t even tell me that story until I graduated from college because she was embarrassed and didn’t want me to know, um, you know, so they, my parents really didn’t get a, uh, maybe a formal education beyond.

[00:01:56] Um, middle school or high school, but they taught me incredible work ethic. And so for me, an education really transformed my life in being the first college graduate in my family. But then also kind of taking that a step further and kind of shifting from blue collar roots to kind of transitioning into the white collar working world.

[00:02:14] Zach White: Wow, Tammy that’s I mean, thanks for sharing that. Really interesting stories. So you have generationally just done incredible things with that foundation, but tell us a little bit more, what was that like to be growing up, you know, in a environment where maybe you didn’t have the, you know, the legacy of all of my family and my parents and you know, my, my dad was a CEO and that’s why I’m a VP today.

[00:02:39] hear those stories and here’s, this is the opposite of like, what was that like growing up. 

[00:02:44] Tammy Bohen: so first of all, I had a fantastic childhood, a lot of fun, a lot of love, you know, we didn’t have in money. We certainly made up for, um, lots of love and family. Right. So both of my parents are the 12th child and their family.

[00:02:56] So they both came from very large, um, large families. They were the babies in their family, so they had all the hand-me-downs. Right. And so they’re like, okay, we’re having two kids and that’s it. And so. Tons of fun in the holidays, but you know, I also saw my parents struggle a lot. Right. They really struggled financially.

[00:03:15] Um, My parents got divorced when I was in about sixth grade. So then I kinda, at that point I was raised by my mother. Right. So kind of single mom, uh, working in a factory, you know, it was really, so I saw how difficult it was for her. And so I just knew I wanted something different for my life. I always had big dreams.

[00:03:27] I love to read. Um, I was kind of the geeky kid, although I was also very athletic. I was also very much into reading and learning. My, uh, my uncle, when I was like probably 13 or 14, gave me a Zig Ziglar CD and see you at the top. And I absolutely loved it. And literally, like the joke was I played it so much.

[00:03:45] The, uh, you know, I would just play it over and over. And I just got really hooked on learning. I love to, to learn about the world and what was happening. And, um, just had big, big dreams. 

[00:03:55] Zach White: The Ziglar CD or, or something else that actually instilled in you, this belief that something different was possible for you, that you didn’t have to be a victim to circumstances that you could overcome, you know, that, that foundation or that starting point, what, like, where did that happen for you, Tim?

[00:04:14] Tammy Bohen: You know, I, I’ve always just been curious. Person. Right. So even as a kid, right. I asked a lot of questions. Um, I’d like to try things. I was always adventurous in trying new things. I had an older brother, so I think that really helped me probably toughen up a little bit. My brother was five years older, so I was always trying to keep up with him and his friends.

[00:04:33] And so I was always pushing myself, right. To try new things and being adventurous. So. Um, I don’t, I can’t say a point when that really started, I’ve always been kind of curious, but I definitely remember that was definitely the more I got to got exposure to new information. I, you know, I didn’t have people that were worldly maybe in my family growing up.

[00:04:52] Um, but the more I kind of put myself out there. I ran track and cross country was able to start traveling. I did very well and able to set some records. I got a scholarship to run cross country in college and, um, you know, got exposure to different people then. And the more I just, the more I learned, the more I realized how big the world was and how much opportunity there is out there.

[00:05:11] If we go out and do the work, or you have to put the work in. To build yourself up, um, to, to kind of seek and understand and learn. And the thing is in life, we all have so much more power and opportunity if we’re willing to do the work and that work is not always easy, 

[00:05:28] Zach White: willing to do the work. Tammy, can you share from your experience  what, what’s the difference between a person who comes from a really challenging.

[00:05:39] Circumstance, whether it’s, you know, Hey, you know, my parents were both high school dropouts or, you know, I didn’t have the childhood that some people have with the opportunities and the travel and the high price educations, the private schools are okay. Or maybe it’s something different. You know, I had a trauma in my childhood or something happened.

[00:05:56] Some people we see them come through that and, and they latch onto this idea. Because of my past, I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough for this. I don’t deserve to be vice-president one day like Tammy has accomplished and, and other people like yourself come through, you know what people might say, uh, you know, you know, a lesser experience and you go the exact ops.

[00:06:17] Let’s say, you know what? That’s not a part of defining my limits. It’s actually something that’s going to propel me to the future. What is it that creates the difference between those two paths for people? Yeah. 

[00:06:29] Tammy Bohen: I think it’s how you internalize the thought process. I see that as you know, those experiences are my advantage because you might have.

[00:06:39] Different opportunities than I had, but you want to work me right? Any day of the week. That is one thing my very blue collar parents taught me is the work ethic, right. Is, um, doesn’t matter what you do in life. Right. Be your best at it and put in the hustle, put in the work. Right. And, um, I’m so grateful for those lessons.

[00:06:56] Right. And, um, I think you have to look. Your experiences as an advantage. So it’s really the mindset and how you internalize. It’s that story you tell yourself about what happened to you to your life. And are you going to tell yourself it’s a disadvantage or are you going to flip the script and say, this is an advantage and how it’s going to actually help propel me because I’ve had these experiences, I’ve had this adversity and I’m going to use that to be my stepping stone to grow stronger.

[00:07:20] Right. And, and have to struggle through something can make you stronger. 

[00:07:24] Zach White: That’s so powerful. And you know, for the engineer listening, we talk at a Waco all the time about the foundation of our mindset and what I’m hearing from you, Tammy, is like that mindset about what my past means in my life is the difference between being rocket fuel to go further or being an anchor that holds me back.

[00:07:43] And so for the engineer listening, just take to heart what Tammy’s sharing with you. It doesn’t matter. What that story is about your past. You can change that mindset and it can be an asset and an advantage. That’s, that’s amazing. So, Tammy, you’re one of the greatest people developers I’ve ever hung out with.

[00:08:00] I, and for those listening and we go way back, Tammy and I spent some time together, but I want to do a little thought exercise with you. If you were sitting down to coach and. An engineer who walked in, you know, it’s like your first meeting with this engineer and they said, Tammy, I really want to grow my career.

[00:08:19] I really want to have these amazing results. What do I do? What’s the kind of starting point for you when you think about the development of a person. From a coaching and career perspective. What’s, what’s your thought process about how to help someone get started into realizing their potential and getting new levels of results?

[00:08:40] How do you approach that from all your experience? 

[00:08:43] Tammy Bohen: Yeah. Great question. So I would start with first. What do you want out of. Right. What’s most important to you at a human level, right? Because let’s start there. Right? Why do you want to grow your in develop yourself? What is the life and the lifestyle you want to have and you want to create for yourself?

[00:08:58] Um, that is kind of where I like to start the conversation. And then, and then what are you doing? What are you willing to do to get. Hmm. 

[00:09:05] Zach White: What are you willing to do tell me more about that word willing? Why is that . In there? 

[00:09:10] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, I mean, you know, again, that’s the beautiful thing about being human being.

[00:09:12] It’s the power of choice, right? So it goes back to what’s most important to you. Why do you value, why do you value it? Right? what do you most care about in life? Who do you most care about? Um, who do you want to become? I mean, there’s so many powerful questions and for sure, for me the questions Just create lots of insight and cause it goes back to, it’s not about what I want, it’s about what the person wants. Right. And so you really have to think through, what do you want out of your life? Why do you want it? Why does it matter? Right. Who do you want to become? Who do you want to serve? Um, Yeah.

[00:09:45] And that, that kind of helps lead me to help them provide the best guidance based on some of those answers. 

[00:09:51] Zach White: Where do you see people get stuck in those early questions? It seems so simple. What do you really want out of life? What are you willing to do to get it? But I imagine it’s not that simple for most people.

[00:10:05] W where do you see people get stuck in that first phase before we even begin the real development? What’s the. 

[00:10:13] Tammy Bohen: I see people getting stuck, doing what they think they should, because someone else told them it’s what they should want in life. So where are people most getting stuck is have they even built in the space to even think about those questions and their life?

[00:10:29] And you know, in this, you know, we get taught this from our parents, right? So our parents want us to behave a certain way. Right? We want to be. Uh, you know, good human beings. So. I, you know, I, I would just always take her takes, take a step back, set time aside for yourself to actually do your own deep thinking.

[00:10:35] Right. And so for me, that’s hiking. So I, you know, I, I’m still trying to become a meditator. I’ve never been good at meditating. I have a hard time sitting still and getting my mind quiet. So for me, it’s actually getting outside and going on a long walk, a hike, a run, um, a bike, just, just to clear my clear my mind, but, you know, just setting aside some time to really do some deep thinking about.

[00:10:53] Who you are, what you want out of life is really the first step. Not what someone else wants for you. What do you truly want for yourself? And why? 

[00:11:02] Zach White: if someone is unsure, is this an authentic something that I want for myself and my. Or am I still playing by an agenda of what I should do because of my parents or my boss, or some other influence?

[00:11:20] How, how can I tell the difference, Tammy? What’s that litmus test, you know, engineers. We like to, you know, understand the data it’s like, well, is this real? How do I know if it’s. My heart versus something that I’ve just believed for a long time, but it’s not actually from me. How do you tell the difference?

[00:11:40] Tammy Bohen: Does it light you up? Right? How do you feel on the inside? Does that truly excite you and let you up or not? And it’s not automatic, right? It’s not like, um, you sometimes you really have to do some deep work. Right. And, and by the way, that changes at different stages in your life, whatever. Wanted for my life at 20 30, 40, not 45.

[00:12:01] It’s very different today than it was 10 years ago and definitely different than 20 years ago. So I don’t feel like I can’t change. Right. You can change your mind. You can’t evolve. That’s the power of being human being, right. We, we, um, have the opportunity to evolve and to grow. And so don’t feel bad if, if what you want changes and evolves over time.

[00:12:19] That’s part of, you know, natural growth and development of self actually. 

[00:12:23] Zach White: I love that. Does it, does it light you up? And I know for me as an engineer and a lot of the engineers that I coached Tammy, sometimes as engineers, we got to let loose a little bit, give ourselves permission to light up. It’s been a long time for some of our listeners since they’ve really lit up about anything.

[00:12:40] And you know, somebody is in that place, maybe they’ve kind of just been cruising. They’re coasting a little bit numb to what’s going on. What would you say is a way to just. Let loose to get in touch with that. What lights me up part of myself, somebody is just not good at that, or it’s been a while, but what do you think?

[00:12:59] How do you do it? 

[00:13:00] Tammy Bohen: If you have to start do it through hobbies. Right? So, um, build in some space and it’s hard because we all get busy. Right. We get busy executing. What other people want us to execute. Right. Um, your inbox is someone else’s agenda. Don’t get stuck on your 

[00:13:11] Zach White: inbox. So stop, stop. Say that again, please, because I agree a thousand percent and I do not want the engineer listening to miss this.

[00:13:19] Say, say that. 

[00:13:20] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, your, your inbox is someone else’s agenda for you. That’s not your agenda. That’s someone else asking you what you need to do. 

[00:13:28] Zach White: Preach. Preach it, Tammy. This is so important. I’m sorry. You keep going. 

[00:13:36] Tammy Bohen: You know, what do you like to do just for yourself? Just for fun, that does let you up, right?

[00:13:40] So that you can kind of get into that flow state. So what, whether it’s fishing, hiking, maybe it’s working on a project woodwork, whatever that is for you set aside some time where you can do that because chances are those thoughts are going to naturally kind of process and flow in it. And it’s easy, right?

[00:13:58] I want to let you know, I want to retire and be in vacation, but do you really right? I’m I’m wired. I loved, I love my work. I actually loved to work. I’ll probably never . Fully retire. Right. Um, and so it goes back to if you’re really doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like. Um, you get into flow state. That doesn’t mean there are aspects of it that are work.

[00:14:15] Right. Um, I have an inbox too, but at the same time, how do you make sure you structure and balance your day? So you get to focus more on what you love and what brings you energy and, helps you thrive. 

[00:14:28] Zach White: Th this is so awesome to hear from the chief HR officer of a multi-national billion plus dollar multi-billion dollar organization, permission engineer, listening to go enjoy your hobbies, to practice, feeling that light up feeling because you’ve got to know yourself and what it feels like to be there, to then bring that to work and to connect that to your career.

[00:14:57] Make time for it, Tammy. Thanks for giving us permission today to bring that in as part of our strategy for knowing ourselves and a lot of people won’t say that and I, I love, 

[00:15:09] Tammy Bohen: yeah. honestly, happy, healthy engineers and individuals, right. They’re better at what they do. Right. You bring better innovation, better creativity, to your work.

[00:15:18] And that’s important. 

[00:15:20] Zach White: It’s amazing. Back to your story a little bit, Tammy, tell me and the listener, what was the point or a decision point in your journey that really demanded courage from, from, you know, this is the Oasis of courage and we talk about the role that fear plays in holding us back and how important courage is and our career and our life to create that happiness.

[00:15:42] And so just for you, what’s that point or a point, I’m sure there’s many where you had to step up with courage. Tell us about the situation and what that looked like for you? 

[00:15:51] Tammy Bohen: Yeah. Um, great question. You know, I think for me, um, uh, probably a pivotal point for my life was really, um, you know, I was newly married.

[00:15:56] I, was pregnant. I had been working for a couple of years to try to get into Michigan state’s master’s in HR program. And. You know, I was working full time. And so I had to basically kind of make the decision to drive right. Two hours. So working full-time family, um, my company had just announced that they were going to be closing.

[00:16:16] So I worked for an automotive manufacturing company in grand rapids. So, you know, a new, new mortgage. New marriage, new baby on the way work in my way, was able to finally get accepted into grad school and, you know, had to make, make kind of long drive, um, uh, to, to Lansing from grand rapids. Right. It was hard because like I wanted to, I was in my twenties, right.

[00:16:31] And . I wanted to play and I wanted to travel, but I said, okay, I’m going to make the sacrifice now. To go to one of the top programs in the country, make the drive, give up my vacation for a couple of years. give up family time to really invest in myself for my long-term future. Um, and so that was, uh, I would say that was, I was excited about it though.

[00:16:49] Like I really wanted to grow and develop, so I was excited about, but the same time, it was a personal sacrifice, right. At that point in my life, 

[00:16:58] Zach White: this idea. Sacrificing some of the things you want now to invest in yourself for the future, is that, uh, a mindset that has been with you your whole life. And do you continue to do that today?

[00:17:13] Or is it something that’s kind of a season, you do it once, but then you reap the rewards. Like how, how has that shown up for you? Yeah, 

[00:17:21] Tammy Bohen: so, you know, 

[00:17:22] Zach White: Yeah, 

[00:17:22] Tammy Bohen: so, you know, um, I try to pick a, I try to pick a topic, so I. Probably since, you know, I’ve been probably since I was in my early twenties, I’ve had one or two areas I’m really trying to grow and develop on and I’ll just go deep in that.

[00:17:29] I get super interested in it and I focus where my energy and passion is. So like, uh, early in my twenties, I read every book on personal finance and investing there was and realized. Compound interest, right? Personal investment in yourself as like compound interest. So whether it’s education, whether it’s savings, um, whether it is focused, right, but to really dive in, go deep and do some achieve something meaningful, but it creates a lasting positive effect on your life in a, in a lasting positive return.

[00:17:57] Um, and there’s no better investment than in yourself. Honestly, your knowledge, the experiences, um, You know, and at any point I’ve never regretted the trade-offs. Right. Um, for if you could, if you can give her go the short-term pleasure for the long-term payoff, right. It’s it’s almost always there. 

[00:18:11] Zach White: You’re the right person to ask this next question then.

[00:18:15] Tammy, of, of the thousands of things. That an engineer could go off and invest in for personal development. What are the handful of areas that you have seen consistently bring the best return on that investment and compound the best? You know, You know, what, what would you say, look, if you want to make sure you’re putting those dollars hours, your, your precious energy into.

[00:18:42] The right spaces are the best. And it’s fair to say, right? Let’s say the best spaces from your experience. What would those be? 

[00:18:48] Tammy Bohen: Um, so first I think the answer is going to depend a little bit on what you want, right? As a person, but your health, your health is always a good investment, right? So eating well, sleeping well, taking care of your health, mental, physical health, and wellbeing.

[00:19:01] Always a good return on investment. Um, Education right. Developing yourself right through, through education, through continuous education, gaining new skills is always a good investment, um, in yourself, you know, building your, your mind and again, mindset. Right? So I think reading, doing some work journaling, right?

[00:19:19] So for me, journaling has always been powerful just to kind of process emotions, right. And really do the work to think, what do I really want out of life and what do I need now? And. Don’t be a victim. How am I going to be accountable? Right. To making a change. It’s not someone else’s job. It’s not, you know, your spouse’s job, your bosses job, your company’s job.

[00:19:39] You’re most accountable for you. Your development matters most to you. So what are you, what are you personally doing to develop yourself? 

[00:19:48] Zach White: One thing I see a lot, Tammy is putting myself first feels selfish. Engineers that I see in a lot of folks have that kind of mindset like, oh, but I need to invest in my kids, or I really need to, you know, save for this other thing or take care of my aging parents or, you know, there’s all these other demands on our life.

[00:20:07] You know, I got a mortgage to pay, I’ve got this and that. what would you say to that engineer? Who’s struggling with the idea of, you know, putting $5,000 into themselves to develop a new skill or to hire a coach or putting $50,000 into an advanced degree, if that’s what they need to, to move forward or it’s just their passion and was something they really want to do, you know, maybe they don’t need it to continue in their career, but you just really want that, you know, some people love education.

[00:20:33] What would you say that mindset of like, why. Sacrifice for all these other things and not invest in myself. 

[00:20:40] Tammy Bohen: Yep. Yeah. would say pitch your life out, you know, average person, let’s say about 85 years old, pitching yourself out, you know, at 85, reflecting back on your life. What are you going to regret more

[00:20:55] Zach White: at 85? I like to call this the rocking chair test. 

[00:21:00] Tammy Bohen: Now for me, I’m going, I’m shooting for my grandmother, lived to 104. So I’m personally shooting for 105. Cause I’m very competitive. I’m very competitive. Not I, and again, it’s gotta be a healthy, you know, 105, but, um, you know, again, I think picture your life out right when you’re a grandparent, a great-grandparent and what’s gonna have mattered more to you and.

[00:21:19] Sometimes, if you’re not willing to do it for yourself, think about what is the role model you want to be to your, kids. Or your friends, right. If you’re not willing to do it for yourself because you are giving person and I, and I know what that feels like. I’ve struggled that personally, like I, I know that’s hard, right?

[00:21:33] To feel it does feel selfish sometimes putting yourself first, but it’s just like the, on the airlines. Right? You put your, put your oxygen mask on yourself first, because if you fall out, you can’t help other people. If you haven’t been able to sustain your own health and wellbeing and invest in yourself.

[00:21:49] So you matter too. And so be a good role model for that. caring for yourself. 

[00:21:55] Zach White: I love that. Be a great role model of how you want them, those kids, those friends, those family members. How would you want them to treat themselves and role model that that’s really powerful, Tammy, earlier, you said, you know, these core questions to start with included, getting clear.

[00:22:13] Y you want these things that you’re pursuing. If it’s happiness, if it’s career advancement and promotion, you know, you want to be a CTO one day, whatever that might look like. Do you have a sense of purpose in your life that you’d be willing to share with us? Why are you so passionate about, you know, human development and, and helping people to step into their, you know, their full potential and be at their best?

[00:22:37] What is your. 

[00:22:38] Tammy Bohen: Yeah. So my why personally, I mean, one, I really want to change my family tree. Right. So to really, you know, I have a son he’s, um, he’s 18, he’s in his first year of college, which is super rewarding to see. Um, and I want him to know, right. He can pursue whatever he wants in life. Right. And go after that, um, and thrive, whatever that.

[00:22:59] Um, so, you know, one, it was it was for me personally, wanting to change my family tree, which I’ve successfully done, which I’m very proud of. Right. Um, and now for me personally, I’m really driven by, I love again, just out of pure pleasure of like personal growth, personal development. I love to travel globally. Um, I want, I love to learn about other cultures.

[00:23:19] Um, and so that’s one of the things I love about the work that I get to do is I get to work with people all around the world, different cultures, languages, but at the heart of it, right. Human beings are very similar to what, what we want right in life. So we want to be happy. Um, we want to be successful.

[00:23:33] We want to have good loving relationships. Um, we want to have a, you have a meal. We want to make a meaningful contribution to the world, right. At the core of it. When you really boil it down as human beings. Um, you know, a lot of times we want the same things that how we get there, it looks very different.

[00:23:46] Um, but at the core of it, right, the same things tend to matter, um, regardless of where you’re from in the world. 

[00:23:54] Zach White: Um, so in that pursuit of continued global exploration and learning and growth and fulfilling your purpose, Tammy, what is, what’s a big challenge or a big kind of barrier or thing that you’re pursuing.

[00:24:08] Right now what’s, what’s kind of that next mountain top that you’re in pursuit of. 

[00:24:13] Tammy Bohen: no great question. So, um,  what I’m actually working on now is when I look at some of the opportunities in the world, I’m a big proponent of gender parody and avoiding gender bias. And so when I look at what I’m pursuing currently is how to become a corporate director.

[00:24:26] I want to sit on a board in the future, and if you look at board representation, It is far unrepresented by women, um, on board seats today. And so I’m actually looking at a, there’s a, a program at, at Harvard that’s about preparing to become a corporate director. So I’m exploring which, which of those kinds of programs I’m going to take right.

[00:24:45] To invest in myself. Um, but that’s really kind of my next big challenge is I want to really focus on how do I prepare to become a successful corporate director and, and participate on a board seat for the. 

[00:24:56] Zach White: That’s fantastic, Tammy, you have my vote. If there was voting involved, I know there’s not, but I love that.

[00:25:02] And you know, this, this topic. Oh, your 

[00:25:04] Tammy Bohen: company’s act right. You could create your own board. You just know you’re going to get big enough someday. So you never know. 

[00:25:11] Zach White: Absolutely. Tammy, when, when, uh, when a Waco goes public, you’re definitely sitting on the board. Right? So engineers, you, you heard it here first.

[00:25:18] Uh, it’s. 2021 as we’re recording this and one day in the future, Tammy’s going to sit on the Waco board. So that, that sounds like a great plan. Um, Tammy, I do want to touch this subject because I know the women engineers who listen, I would love to hear your perspective and you have not just a heart for gender parity and avoiding gender bias and equality in that way, but also have taken meaningful action in organizations and really been a part of that.

[00:25:44] Helping people understand, you know, the truth. You know, do things that are useful and helpful for people in challenging situations. So would you just maybe provide some encouragement and or insights for a woman engineer listening who may feel the resistance or the challenges of being a female engineer where it’s, it’s heavily, you know, disparate in terms of male, female, gender bias, what might be things for them to consider from your experience?

[00:26:09] Just kind of speak into that. 

[00:26:11] Tammy Bohen: Sure. Absolutely. So, so first of all, I would say, you know, the reality is if you look at the education system globally, there are still more males than females graduating. Those numbers are shifting over time, right? As, as more women are getting engineering degrees and advanced engineering degrees, which is great.

[00:26:27] Um, but I would say don’t focus, uh, take, you know, take any barriers you get and turn those into fuel for your success. So, um, Focused on the solutions focused on adding value, right. And, um, keep investing in developing yourself and you’re going to succeed. Just, you know, again, keep putting one foot in front of the other, some days it’s going to be, you know, might be small steps, but just keep moving forward.

[00:26:47] And, and again, um, there’s tons of talented. Capable women that are out there in the field. Um, and so look to some of them for inspiration connect with them. And then I would say network, right? And, and there’s lots of great male advocates, right. That champion, um, your success as well. So, so get yourself a strong mentor, focus on, um, learning the business, right?

[00:27:06] Building strategic insights, adding value, and you’re going to thrive and do well. 

[00:27:12] Zach White: Turn the barriers into fuel and part of what that speaks to my heart, Tammy. And tell me if, um, if you agree or disagree with this statement, is that it’s not that there are no barriers. There are, yes, let’s just acknowledge it.

[00:27:25] And instead of being a victim to it, let’s turn it into fuel. Be uh, a trailblazer, someone who can help to break those barriers down for the, the women who follow you. Is that aligned with your thinking? That’s that’s what I took from that. Is that a fair. 

[00:27:38] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, again, there are definitely places in the world, right?

[00:27:42] So if you look at the, you know, globally, if you look at the Nordic countries, right, they’re the most progressive globally from a gender bias and parody standpoint. If you look at, um, their political representation and house, right? If you look at the cultural representation, The men and those cultures do a large portion of the housework.

[00:27:57] So if you look at it in the, in the U S this year alone with COVID 4 million women drop out of the workforce and the U S I don’t have all the global stats, but I know in the past year with COVID because of dual career. I’m trying to do online education with kids. A lot of that does traditionally still fall to women.

[00:28:14] So one, uh, women, you know, your spouses are, are very capable and there’s lots of great spouses that are doing their part. Right? And so, but if you look at there are cultures and places in the world that are more that are, I would say good role models, right? So the Nordic countries are very good role models for that.

[00:28:29] Zach White: Yeah, so much to discover here. And I know our conversation. We don’t have time to unpack it all, but I want to touch the other side of it quickly. Cause I know a lot of male engineers are kind of listen to this. They might even be wanting to tune out right now and I can even speak from my own experience.

[00:28:42] We have this. No blind spot in our own awareness of, of the challenges that, that women engineers face. And we kind of want to say, well, look, just do great work, you know, let the merit of your results speak for itself and what’s stop this conversation, you know, just to touch on that. If somebody maybe is having a little bit of resistance, even hearing this conversation, or doesn’t really believe that this is as bad as some people say it is, what would you encourage a male engineer or really, you know, That when we talk gender bias and parody, like how do I help myself discover where I might have some blind spots and remove that bias if it’s there?

[00:29:17] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, no great question. So for those of you that have daughters, right. Or mothers or sisters, ask yourself what I want my daughter, mother, sister, working in the environment that I’m working in and in my country contributing to a good environment or not. 

[00:29:31] Zach White: Hmm. Am I contribute? To the environment. I want my daughter to work in.

[00:29:38] Yup. There you go. Start there. Well, Tammy, uh, we were talking to engineers. I know you have lots of experience with engineers leading in your career. Sometimes we get labeled as kind of a special breed, and I always like to ask people from your background cause. You know, chief, you get to see the whole organization.

[00:29:59] And so if, if there are stereotypes you’ve seen and heard them all. And so is there anything about engineers that you would say, Hey, it’s a real difference because of the training, because of the mindset that impacts the way you approach development and career growth, if you are in the engineering discipline and if so, what are those.

[00:30:19] Tammy Bohen: Yeah. You know, again, first of all, everybody’s unique, right? And so you have a different, even within functions, you have different needs. Right. But I, I would say, uh, you know, some of the key skills that I value in engineers that I’ve worked with tend to be very good. That are drawn to the field. Very good, critical thinkers.

[00:30:34] So I do think they’re very good, critical thinkers. They don’t just take things at the face value. They like to dive in. They want to go into the details. They want to dive into the facts, which I think is great. And again, the work, the engineers, there are so many amazing, creative products and innovations that exist in the, in the world today because of engineer’s right.

[00:30:55] I appreciate that every time I get on a plane, right? The fact that they can take this heavy, you know, a heavy piece of machinery and get, get me off the ground to get me another content. I’m always grateful and amazed at, you know, that, that, that was, um, an engineer helped to, to design that and create that for the future.

[00:31:07] Um, and so, you know, I, I would say I wouldn’t, I, again, I want to paint people too broad, a brush. I think it goes back to. W, you know, what is someone trying to achieve? Where do they need to focus in on and, um, and start there, right. To kind of go with what’s important. But I do think I, one of the things I most appreciate engineer’s is their level of, of critical thinking.

[00:31:25] Zach White: Does that critical. Hold us back in any particular area of career success 

[00:31:33] Tammy Bohen: at times, I do think a roadblock. It can, it, it can part of why engineers are good at what they do is because they see the problems, right. A mile down the road before they get there. And so sometimes I can see engineers get stuck at the problem instead of flipping it to the solution.

[00:31:49] Right. So, um, you know, again, how do you. Engineer to design for success, right. And don’t get so hung up on all the problems, what you have to overcome focusing on what is the vision of what you want to create as an outcome. And, and then, work your way backwards from there. 

[00:32:05] Zach White: Um, focus on the vision. I love that.

[00:32:08] And bringing that out of the career space, then back to our lives, you know, if, if the vision is happiness and health and fulfillment, and these things that you mentioned earlier, You know, does that same sort of critical thinking problem exist in that space? Do you think? Or do you see it? You know, Hey, that same barrier at work can manifest at home.

[00:32:31] Have you seen that?

[00:32:34] Tammy Bohen: I can’t say that, you know, I was never married to an engineer. I mean, again, I I’m good friends with some engineers. I’ve, I’ve had, uh, dinners with some of my engineering, friends and colleagues. And so I, I think their spouses would say yes on occasion as I’ve talked to them. And again, everybody’s wired differently.

[00:32:52] Right. So that that’s certainly not that all engineers. 

[00:32:57] Zach White: Even just hearing your heart and mindset around these questions, Tammy is to say, look, you know, Zach, you’re, you’re curious about these engineers, but the reality is each person is a unique individual and there’s no barrier within your mindset, your training, your schooling, that is something that’s not overcomeable in your unique situation.

[00:33:18] And let’s not burn too many calories in the general, but get specific about what it is that you. And what you’re willing to do to get there. And so for the engineer, let’s, I think that’s a really awesome takeaway. Sometimes we think of HR as painting with a broad brush, and that’s not, that’s not the case here.

[00:33:36] So, you know, Hey, what what’s going on at the individual individual level. So, well, what Tammy, there’s so many places we could go and I want to be respectful of your time here. And you know, when you think about growth and development for an individual. Yeah. And then how that has shown up in your own journey, what is for you?

[00:33:57] You know, that, that current end all be all. If you will, like, where is the industry going with with growth and development? What do people need to be thinking about? There’s so much happening, right? All these ways to pursue it on your own. Company’s doing more and more with training and development. Like Like as, as a chief HR officer, what do you see coming down?

[00:34:18] The road, in terms of the future of, of human potential growth development, this entire movement just what’s out there, help us see further down the road. 

[00:34:27] Tammy Bohen: First of all, I mean, there’s more out there today than there ever has been in history. Like we’re living in an incredible time. Right? So with all of the information that’s available at your fingertips, right, there is more information out there than ever before, but at the same time, you can almost create overwhelm.

[00:34:42] Sometimes it’s like, man, where do I even start? Right. And so that’s where. You know, I, I do think, um, yes, companies are doing a lot, um, more, you know, more and more right to help develop. But I do think again, the ultimate ownership for development always sits with the individual, right? It’s not your company’s responsibility to at your boss’s responsibility.

[00:34:58] It’s your life. You’re an adult, it’s your responsibility. So I would say, take advantage of all of the incredible technology that’s out there. And identify the areas that you’re most, most passionate about. Take the time to do the deeper thinking and, um, invest in yourself to spend carve out time built in time dedicated, um, you know, hours or even days every month to, you know, you learn best when you do it in small micro bites.

[00:35:27] Right. So kind of micro-learning so build in sometimes where you have some. Development days for yourself, right. And investing in yourself for the longterm. And I do think that the trend is, um, we’re going to be seeing more, it’s more and more shifting online. So continuing to really, you know, invest in yourself, but getting comfortable with different forms of technology to really accelerate that.

[00:35:48] Awesome. But the future is always human. So, you know, again, technology is good, but connect with other humans. 

[00:35:56] Zach White: That’s so good. The future is always human. Well, Tammy, as we start stepping into that future, and, and I know there’s so much exciting stuff on the horizon for you and your organization and otherwise, but I like to end the same way with all of our guests.

[00:36:11] You know, you’re a coach at heart as well. And you know that great questions. You know, we went on to ask great questions in our lives. The power of our questions can change the quality of our life through the answers that we created. Great engineering is similar questions, lead answers, follow. And so for the engineer listening, who wants to be happy, they want to find that deep fulfillment and sense of purpose in their life.

[00:36:36] What would be the best question you would lead them with? 

[00:36:41] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, I would leave. Leave them with the question of who, who can you ask for help, right? Who is, who is in your corner that either has knowledge, skills, or abilities that you could learn and grow from and, um, who haven’t you reached out to, but you could, so many people struggle with feeling like I have to do it on my own.

[00:37:01] But, you know, again, human beings are social creatures, we’re social animals. And I guarantee, if you reach out to people nine times out of 10, they’re going to want to help you. They’re going to want to see you be successful. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. And so I would just leave you the question of who haven’t you reached out to, but you should to ask for help.

[00:37:21] Zach White: I love it. Who can you ask for help, Tammy? Can’t thank you enough for your time. The engineer listening got tons of value from this. I did. And there’s a thousand more things we could explore together, but I can’t. Thank you enough. And your team at SVP is so lucky to have you there in that chief HR role, and just continue to wish tons of success for you and the organization and your future, uh, as a developer of people.

[00:37:47] And I know that heartbeat will never go away. If someone wants to get connected with you, Tammy, for just to follow your journey or maybe reach out with a question about something they heard today, where’s the best place they could get in touch with you? 

[00:37:59] Tammy Bohen: Yeah, I would say reach out I’m on LinkedIn. So reach out directly on LinkedIn, you know, drop me a message.

[00:38:04] Um, if you have a follow-up question or you want to. 

[00:38:07] Zach White: Amazing. Well, Tammy, you have not just changed your family tree, but you’ve changed the awakened family tree by being here today. I really appreciate it. And again, let’s do this again in the future and wish you tons of success going forward, 

[00:38:22] Tammy Bohen: Zach. Thanks for having me.

[00:38:23] It was, it was a real privilege to get to spend the hour with you today and, and great to see you.