Yumiko Damashek says that she’s never been afraid to take career risks and that she’s a natural people magnet. Part of that is her personality, but her other secret power behind her career success is her height.

“I was a big kid,” she says. “And big kids usually don’t get pushed around. Kids around you think you have gravitas and presence already.”

As a young woman, Yumiko says she knew she had “a bigger game to play,” which is why she left her native Japan and headed to San Diego State University to earn an MBA in international marketing and finance. Her last post before retiring was a VP role at Cabot Microelectronics (now known as CMC Materials).


“I’m not an engineer, but I ended up in a highly technical world,” she told us for our premiere REACH REPORT. “Without being willing to learn continually, I wouldn’t have survived. I wouldn’t have won the trust of all those analytical types in my life. Ironically, though, engineers often appreciated my big-picture approach to things, which wasn’t always science-driven. Life isn’t all about data and analysis; big decisions are often made using other considerations.”  

You’re either in the camp of people who have clear career goals or you’re more open to some unplanned adventures. “I’m definitely in that second camp,” says  Damashek. “When I graduated with an MBA in finance and international marketing, we were facing a huge financial crisis and there were no jobs. I was an immigrant, with no network, and I was at a loss.”

Someone told Yumiko about a small tech start-up that was looking for a Japanese person to help it develop its business and establish its presence in Japan. She went, and this eventually led to other opportunities in the semiconductor industry. “I loved it and never left,” she says.


Although Yumiko’s career launch wasn’t based on any rigorous analytical strategy, she says that the career success she’s had during her 35+-year career is down to paying very close attention to the details, being a voracious reader and developing a rich network of supporters inside and outside the company. Yumiko says she still loves reading, everything from technology to finance to politics.

Gotara Career Advisor Yumiko on Career Risks
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“This wide array of knowledge enables you to see the big trends that drive the world; this helps you develop a strategy, which in turn allows you to take calculated risks,” she says. “Passion is important. I think you have to follow your heart, but passion doesn’t always help you make the right decisions. You need a sound strategy supported by relevant data.‘”

Yumiko Damashek


One thing Yumiko recommends is to read the quarterly SEC filings—something that many people who work for public companies don’t do. That’s where you’ll learn everything about the company, from its financials to its strategy, she says. She also recommends that you listen in on the quarterly earnings call when the analysts interview your CEO.

“All kinds of great facts will come out,” she says. “It’s a way to learn about your company at a high level, and with that information and data, you can navigate your career effectively. Remember that your presence matters, your gravitas matters and your opinion matters. Continuous learning is critical because if you don’t have substance, you’ll quickly make yourself irrelevant.”

Yumiko is one of Gotara’s career advisors. Join the Gotara Career Advice network today and have access to life-changing career advice, tips and strategies. What are you waiting for? 

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