Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
My name is Michele Madera and I am a business immigration lawyer based in Philadelphia. My practice is focused on providing strategic immigration guidance to a broad spectrum of corporate and institutional clients so that they can attract and retain top international talent.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I joined Ellevate when I was relatively new to Philadelphia. I had moved here from New York where I had a great network of friends and professional colleagues. In Philadelphia, I knew very few people and no one on a similar career trajectory. At my very first Ellevate event - a Coffee, Conversations, and Connections event - I met another professional woman who was at a similar place in her career. We followed up with a coffee meeting, which led to an introduction to several similar women. I have now made a group of professional colleagues and friends that are invaluable resources for leadership and guidance.
How would you define your professional mission?
My professional mission to help employers be able to hire a global and diverse workforce by easing them through the immigration process. As the daughter of an immigrant, I hold the immigrant experience close to my heart and I would like to make it as seamless and anxiety-free as possible.
In addition to that, I feel strongly about making our law firm culture be as collegial, open, and flexible as possible. I have developed multiple initiatives to ensure we are not a “traditional” law firm, and our atmosphere is an inviting one. Through this effort, and others, Klasko Immigration Law Partners has been ranked by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a “Best Place to Work” for the last four years.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Creativity, organization, empathy, and understanding of business needs. My work in immigration focuses on institutions- large multinational corporations, startups, universities, among others. When an employer wants to hire a candidate, waiting several weeks for the immigration process to wrap up can be an eternity. I understand this and am able to assist the business manage its ongoing business needs while the immigration piece is being sorted out.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
I am proud of every visa and green card that is approved. That being said, I am most proud of developing ways to use data analytics to better understand a company’s hiring and immigration sponsorship patterns. By doing this, we can forecast budget, understand different business units and why their needs are changing, and leverage this for the company to define its immigration strategy. I was at the forefront of using data to better service clients in the immigration field, and it has differentiated me from other attorneys.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I was always interested in the immigrant experience. As the daughter of an immigrant, I was fascinated by the motivation of a person to leave their established life behind to search for something better, even though it is unknown.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is when someone receives their permanent residence status in the United States. They are so happy to “officially” become a part of the fabric of this country, even if they have already lived here for many years.
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
As mentioned above, it is all about immigrants being able to live and work in the United States. That being said, I also hope my legacy is left with my employees. I hope they feel like I ensured that Klasko Immigration Law Partners is a great place to work that truly cares about its staff- because I do.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
Organization. I am a supremely organized person and keep lists upon lists. By writing it down and setting a time for it, it frees my mind from feeling like I have to keep everything in my head.
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I gave up on the concept of balance and try to focus on the concept of work-life integration. I have a duty to my clients and staff that I take very seriously, which means I am available most of the time. By integrating my work life and my home life, as opposed to trying to separate the two, I have felt much more freedom to be flexible. That being said, this is certainly not perfect and there are some days where there doesn’t seem to be much balance, but I am trying to forgive myself more for those days.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Advocate for yourself and know your value. Early in my career, I thought if I put my head down and worked harder than everyone else, people would notice. Now, I realize that few people are paying attention. I had to come to the table prepared to advocate for myself- I explained why I was ready for the promotion and what my achievements had been.
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