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How She Did It: Angela Lean

Updated: 3 days ago


Angela Dean

If you can't see it, you can't be it! EvolveMe's How She Did It series features remarkable women who've reinvented their careers in midlife. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their professional journeys.


We're honored to introduce the oh-so-inspiring Angela Lean. Angela currently serves as Senior Business Program Manager, Accessible Employee Experience at Microsoft. Angela's story is one of resilience, grit, and optimism. She has transformed life's challenges into opportunities for impact in both her career and personal life, all while staying grounded through personal reflection and self-care. Angela's journey is a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of maintaining a positive outlook.


Read on to learn how she did it!


What's your personal mantra, mission, or manifesto?

Life’s unpredictability offers the opportunity for growth and change —embrace every turn with resilience and humor. Transform challenges into superpowers and relish the moments of joy.


What inspired you to launch your current career?

My life changed significantly five years ago after my husband passed away, the pandemic struck, and my son graduated from high school. After taking time off to grieve, reflect and regroup, I came across a great job at Microsoft in the accessibility space – an area I’ve long been passionate about. I took advantage of the opportunity to make a change and take a role in a mission-driven organization.


What's unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities?

Pivoting in midlife can be an opportunity for reinvention. Although it can be easier to play it safe and take the path of least resistance, pivoting midlife you can benefit from the greater wisdom and hindsight that comes with age life. It can be challenging, but you can often redefine what success looks like in mid-life.


What’s one intention you have for your work this year?

I look forward to exploring the impact of new technologies and data insights on my approach to workplace accessibility strategies. Microsoft is a leader in the corporate accessibility space, and the advancements in AI are unprecedented. I’m really excited to be a part of it.


What are you most passionate about right now?

I am very excited about learning more about the impact of AI accessibility. The rate of innovation and change is very exciting for everyone and there is vast opportunity for personalized assistive technology for people with disabilities. It will be a game-changer for accessibility and the disability community.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I live in NYC, but much of my team is based on the West Coast and elsewhere. As I result, I collaborate with my closest colleagues on Teams calls. I also spend a few days a week working in one of our local offices. In the evenings, I like seeing friends, cooking for my family and spending quality time relaxing on the couch with my dogs and a good book or in front of the TV.


What’s one thing that's advanced your career in the last year?

I pushed myself to explore new opportunities. I took on the co-chair role leading Microsoft’s Employee Resource Group dedicated to Families; the leadership team is comprised of nineteen volunteers. I’m also working with a college friend on establishing a new non-profit and with another friend on new content in the grief and technology space. These opportunities have pushed me to build new relationships, challenge my leadership style and flex new muscles. These additional activities have kept me engaged and inspired.


"Life’s unpredictability offers the opportunity for growth and change—embrace every turn with resilience and humor." -Angela Lean

Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support?

My tribe is a group of remarkable women who've been at my side through my life journeys supporting me through both the highs and the lows. They are the former bosses, co-workers, mentors, lifelong friends and other individuals with shared lived experience. Together, we navigate the intertwined paths of personal and professional life, maintaining a shared humor and zest for life


Favorite book, app, or podcast?

My favorite book is the memoir written by my late husband, Walter Harp: Into the Funhouse. It chronicles our family's experience as he struggled with Leukemia. It is his legacy and gift to me, my children and quite frankly the world.


I also recently had the privilege of serving as a podcast guest discussing the topic of Grief and Technology, Death and Other Stories: Grief Online Part 2. This offered me the opportunity to build on Walt’s legacy and memorialize him further, which was very meaningful to me


You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it?

I would use an extra hour in my day to further indulge in being more creative and/or engaging in self-care. There never seems to be enough time in the day to indulge as much as I want in this regard. Options would include more time to cook, read, go to the Stretch Lab, or do Pilates.

"...it's never too late to reinvent your narrative and try something new." - Angela Lean

The advice I would give my 20-year-old self is…

Embrace a growth mindset. Push yourself to take risks, have adventures, and be curious to learn more. Do not let your anxiety get the best of you.


The advice that I want to give to my 75-year-old self is...

Be proud that you led your life with authenticity and integrity and that you raised two great human beings to carry on your family’s legacy.


Your theme song that plays every time you walk into a room should be?

"Do You Realize?' by The Flaming Lips. It speaks to the need to live life to the fullest every day, appreciating how “life goes fast.”


Best career advice for other women in midlife?

Embrace the adventure of each new opportunity; letting your personal curiosity lead the way. Prioritize self-care as a non-negotiable and set aside the limitations of fear and inertia. Remember, it's never too late to reinvent your narrative and try something new.


When did you feel you got “you” back?

It’s still a work in progress. Moving back to NYC in 2022, I have experienced a challenging and exciting journey to get myself “back.” The city is becoming more my place as I’ve reconnected with many friends and family members who I lost touch with while on the west coast. I also bought a new apartment an engaged in the creative process to make it feel like home with aesthetics with my favorite wallpaper and artwork.


My journey is still a work in progress as I’m hoping to broaden my network even further, but it's feeling more and more like home.


What’s up next?

My daughter will be applying to college next year so I will be supporting her through that process as well as anticipating the empty nest stage for myself. I am also hoping to find a life partner to build the next chapter with.

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