Checking in with Carol Hallett in the Next Phase of Her Life
March 19th, 2012 by Lauro Rizzatti - General Manager, EVE-USA
Carol Hallett and I became fast friends in 2006 when EVE acquired Tharas Systems, where she was vice president of marketing and sales. From then on, we often met for coffee after she joined Real Intent to head marketing and sales. It’s an upbeat and positive Carol who called me from her home in Twain Harte, Calif., near Yosemite National Park in mid January where the weather’s a beautiful, though unseasonable, 60 degrees.
2011 was a tough and, ultimately, transitional year for Carol, starting with her March trip to Japan. While at the airport waiting for her flight back to San Jose, the earthquake shook Japan and shocked the world. Carol being Carol found a working WiFi area at the airport where she proceeded to help fellow travelers rebook flights home.
After arriving back home with an overwhelming feeling of being lucky to survive, Carol got a call that her mother was very ill. She immediately booked a ticket for herself and her sister to fly to Virginia and within that week her mother passed away.
In April, Carol’s husband retired from Lockheed and they decided to put their home in Almaden on the market. Not really expecting it to sell, but a force of nature was in play here. The house sold in five days and the Halletts had 30 days to move.
June always brings a busy time in EDA with DAC and all the follow-up work after the event, so Carol’s focus was on work, as usual. The move was up to Carol’s husband Dave.
With all the changes that happened, it seemed that the next step was inevitable. In July, she decided to retire to begin the next phase of her life. “I helped to build companies and worked hard all my life. It’s time to do some things for me now,” she remarks unapologetically and with a smile in her voice.
We finish catching up and quickly move on to Carol’s story. She was born and raised in San Jose. After graduating from high school, she noticed a full-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News announcing that National Semiconductor was hiring. At 18, what passed for a career goal was an interest in education and children. Semiconductors was the furthest thing from that. “I didn’t think about a career. It was a job. A job became a career.”
A nine-year stint at National provided endless opportunities. “I allowed myself to have open arms, to embrace the possibilities. I believe the more you are able to take on, the more you’re given.” That was the norm in those days at National, she says. “Lots of people were given opportunities.”
National was a great company and she learned a lot. She was also part of its rapid expansion. Carol was encouraged to become an electrical engineering by her boss who thought it was a phenomenal opportunity for a woman and the company paid for the schooling. “How correct he was,” she says as an aside.
Charlie Sporck headed National then and was always available, according to Carol. She tells a funny, rambling story about being an expeditor running through the halls one day, running headlong into Sporck himself. He literally grabbed her and kept her from falling on her backside. She was in a mad dash, but he managed to tell her to come to his office to see him an hour later. A quite petrified Carol arrived at his open door only to be told that he would be watching out in the hallways because he expected to see her running about.
He attended her five-year lunch, his way, Carol contends, of keeping a pulse on the company. As the lunch wound down, Charlie Sporck pulled out a fat cigar intent on smoking it. He asked her if she minded, as she was sitting beside him. She answered, “Of course I mind.” He put it away.
Obviously, things are always changing and dramatically as the industry grew, Carol remarks, when I ask her about the changes she’s seen in Silicon Valley over the last 35 years. The core values start to get diluted as different types of people with different types of motives get involved. Changes come with growth and that’s certainly the case with Silicon Valley, she adds. Orchards with fruits and harvesting gave way to semiconductors and manufacturing. “It comes and goes in waves, but never completely goes away.
“EDA won’t go away,” she affirms. “It will evolve until it is sustainable.”
As our conversation winds down, Carol talks about how grateful she is for the opportunities she’s had. “I’m blessed to do travel for companies and work around the world. It was most interesting. No matter what culture, country or where it was, it’s about people. It may be the most technically important product, yet, it always comes down to people. I tried to run our businesses that way. People, that’s what’s important to me.”
Carol’s had two mentors who where tremendous influences and helped her to realize she could do anything she wanted. She’s obviously a good listener and fast learner. Carol was given excellent advice before her first trip to Japan. That bit of information served her well and earned her the respect of her colleagues and business associates.
With a note of pride, Carol says: “I was awarded the Woman of Influence for 2011 by the San Jose Business Journal. It was awarded to the top 100 women for 2011. I received it because the ladies that worked with me thought enough about me to nominate me. There were over 3,000 women nominated last year. It was a wonderful way to finish my career.”
If you think that Carol’s spending her time in Twain Harte sitting in a rocking chair, you’d be mistaken. All the talk about time for Carol is not quite truthful. Instead, she’s spending time with her husband, time she values. She’s hiking the hills and biking. She’s also thrown herself into teaching people to have a sustainable lifestyle. They are learning to grow their own food, from vegetables and fruit to raising chickens. And, Carol loves being part of the community.
“This is the reward. Money means nothing. Being with your family and friends is what matters and giving back to the community.”