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Steamboat Magazine

Women Rocking The Boat - Susan Larson - Unflinching Attitude

08/10/2012 09:26PM ● By Christina Freeman

Story by Kiersten Henry/Photo by Corey Kopischke

Susan Larson

Former Dell Vice President Susan Larson is unfazed by her minority status in the male-dominated technology industry.

She doesn’t sensationalize her rise to power, insisting instead, “It was easy to get a job and get trained because as a burgeoning industry, they were desperate.”Larson’s debut in the computer world at IBM marked her emergence from a tough period in her life. “I was divorced and needed to go back and find a job. It was the early ‘80s when IBM and Apple had just introduced their first computers,” Larson says.

The industry’s early success resulted in fierce competition and a lot of consolidation, which ultimately landed Larson a job with Dell. Despite her relatively seamless rise within the industry, Larson acknowledges skepticism surrounding women in technology. “There were biases that women didn’t know as much as they thought they did...turns out men didn’t know as much about women as they thought,” Larson laughs.

That unflinching attitude was necessary when working for a company that was hiring a staggering 100 employees per week. As Larson explains, “Dell hit the sweet spot at just the right time.”

After running Dell UK/Ireland, Larson wrapped up her 12-year-tenure and refocused her attention on her husband and four sons. “Anybody who says you can do it all and not have any guilt or personal conflict, I think, is crazy,” Larson says.Since retiring to Steamboat in 1998, Larson has gotten involved with philanthropic work. She helped kick-start the annual Girls to Women Conference and has served on the boards of the VNA, Hospice, Boys and Girls Club, Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Casey’s Pond Project. Her interests in children and supporting the underinsured are common threads among her projects.

After a demanding career, it’s only suitable that Larson would choose to retire in a town that allows her to revisit the fond memories of family ski vacations. “You have an opportunity to make a difference and impact and see that impact in a small town,” she says.

But a woman like Susan Larson doesn’t necessarily need a small venue to stake her presence.

Women Rocking the Boat