Women at Liftoff: Susan Hansen, General Counsel

By Nadia Alaee | March 10, 2020

This March we are celebrating Women’s History Month across all the Liftoff offices around the world and highlighting some of the amazing women that work here in a series of blog interviews. In this interview, get to know our General Counsel, Susan Hansen. 

What motivates you?

I am highly motivated by my desire to provide for my children and to ensure that they have access to the best education, as well as medical treatment and that I am able to provide them with every opportunity to achieve and become successful individuals.

What woman inspires you and why?

I am unable to choose just one, so I will share two women that greatly inspire me. 

My mother is extremely educated and well read. She spends a large amount of her time giving back to our community and engaging in philanthropy. She was the President of Catholic Charities previously, she is currently the President of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara. She donates her time to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, as well as guiding foster children who have aged out of the program. She also oversees grants to individuals who are in need of medical care through the St. Cecilia Society. She was the child of two doctors, an incredible accomplishment for my grandmother in an era where women did not work. However, my mom elected to raise five children and be a stay at home mother in an era where women cooked, cleaned, tutored, and drove their children everywhere. She is selfless, yet extremely accomplished. 

The second woman is Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She built an empire on the basis of finding a simple solution that is specific to the needs of women. She executed a plan. She continued to pursue it and she built a business by believing in herself and her vision. She also did so with a smile, great wit, without concern over her marital status and with humility in the age of social media where appearance is everything. She also seems driven by the greater good as opposed to her self interest.

If you could meet any woman, alive or deceased, who would you meet and why?

Doris Kearns Goodwin – she is an American historian, former sports journalist and political commentator. She knows everything there is to know about the American presidency and is a master storyteller inserting fun facts and interesting tidbits into each story. She would be a phenomenal dinner companion, as she is filled with knowledge about my favorite subjects, which are American History, sports and politics. 

And then there is Oprah who is one of the top influencers in America at this time and has been for years. I am less interested in Oprah as the celebrity but more interested in the individuals that Oprah has had the opportunity to meet and sit with and interview. I would love to pick her brain about the fascinating people that she has been fortunate enough to meet, from the human interest stories she has been able to report on to the former presidents that she has interviewed. She has achieved immense success with grace and humility and without being disliked, which is extremely rare.

What’s a fun fact about you that few people know?

In an era where people did not elect to have their children at home, I was accidentally born at my grandparent’s house (both of whom were doctors) – not on purpose but because my mother’s labor was less than 10 minutes and they were unable to get to a hospital in time.

If you weren’t in the mobile industry, what would you be doing?

I would absolutely be a General Counsel of another technology company.

I have also always thought it would be interesting to be a sideline reporter for ESPN and to be in the midst of the biggest sporting events and be able to interview the athletes in real time as the event was unfolding. I would also love to be a political commentator as it seems as though the only requirement for the job is inserting your personal opinion into the broadcast and I would have zero difficulty doing so. 

Or I would write an anonymous blog where I would discuss the inane questions that people post on Nextdoor.com and the ridiculously self-serving, humble brag postings on social media, the Company or LinkedIn profiles and delve into the psychology of what is driving these posts.

What is one thing you wish you knew 10 years ago?

How important it is to save money and invest in the market. Teach yourself how to invest. Financial freedom is just another way that women can be independent and provides them with the power and knowledge to be able to make their own decisions in life. Having the ability to make your own money, to pay your own mortgage, to pay your child’s tuition, etc… gives you a sense of self confidence and allows you to be viewed as an equal as opposed to relying upon another individual for any reason. This was something that my father emphasized for each of his four daughters and will be something that I emphasize and will impress upon my two daughters.

Can you share what self-care habits help you be the best version of yourself?

I go to church every Sunday evening by myself as a way to properly reset for the start of a new week. It does not have to be church per se. Any activity that is solo and quiet and where you are without your phone and undisturbed for an hour is worth engaging in as a way to reset your life. 

Additionally, I often use the word “no” and find it acceptable to say “no” to requests, party invitations, favors people ask of me. It can be unsettling initially as most women are pleasers and the initial response is to assist or to answer yes when asked to do something but the older I get the more often I politely decline to do something that I have no desire or interest in doing. It is okay to say no.

What is the #1 resource you recommend to women?

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott and any article that does not paint women as the victim, but rather frames us as the competition and as an equal.

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