Susan Nichol: Assuring Quality
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
CAMPBELL – Having spent most of her career dealing with angry and frustrated people, Susan Nichol understands the art of public relations better than most. “I’ve had a lot of experience working for telecom and cable companies, handling quality assurance and responding to customer complaints,” she says. “After doing that for as long as I have, you get pretty good at dealing with people without losing your cool.” To this day, Susan says the human element continues to be her favorite part of what she does. “I’ve always been interested in human behavior. I like to see what happens when you put something out there to the public. I’ll take note of what works, what doesn’t and how the whole thing could be improved.”
Originally from the East Coast, Susan took advantage of a lucrative voluntary layoff deal to move to California in 1996, where she had no trouble finding employment in the booming telecom industry. Eleven years later, however, a simple conversation would lead to her transition to an entirely new industry. “I was a member of a local networking group, which somebody from Cold Craft was also a part of,” she remembers. “At one of our meetings, we discussed what was happening at Cold Craft and I gave him some ideas. The next thing I knew, I was working there, too!”
Susan has spent the last 20-plus years working in the Bay Area, where she resides with her husband and two sons. She says that while she’s grown to appreciate the mild local climate, as an East Coast native, it initially took some adjustment. “Frankly, since I was accustomed to eastern weather, it was a bit uncomfortable for me not to see rain from March until November,” she laughs.
When Susan isn’t on the job, she likes to unwind by engaging in a variety of hobbies. “As a California resident, I’ve come to appreciate the fine art of wine tasting,” she says. “I also enjoy doing things with my hands, whether trying the newest recipe from Food Network or making a stained glass window.”
In regard to her professional success, Susan says that while honest self-assessment isn’t always easy, it’s a necessary step toward self-improvement. “It’s human nature to tweak the numbers to make things look better. My advice is to take the numbers, learn from them and work to improve your results over time. Unless you’re taking an honest look at yourself, you aren’t improving—you’re just getting better at fooling yourself.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
A: I love all types of food, so it depends on what I’m in the mood for. A couple of my favorite spots are Alexander’s Steak House and the Silicon Valley Capital Club dining room. I also like authentic ethnic restaurants where you sit on the floor and there’s entertainment like belly dancing—I enjoy the experience as much as the food.
Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: I’m definitely a dog person. Not only do I think they’re more personable, I’m allergic to cats!
Q: Who’s your favorite movie monster?
A: Godzilla. Who else can come to town, stomp around and leave without cleaning up?
Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: I like several different comedians, from big stars like George Lopez to local performers like Ross Turner and Michael Slack.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. If I was on my own schedule, I’d get up early, nap mid-day and party at night!
Q: Have you ever had a conversation with a famous person?
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A: Butch Vig. He was the premier producer during the alternative rock boom of the early ’90s, helming records for bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth before finding success as a performer with the band Garbage. He’s actually married to a relative of mine. From getting to know him, I can say he’s as laid back and down to earth as his videos and pictures depict him to be, which isn’t always the case with famous people.