Emil Michael: How Fatherhood Helps Him Set His Sights on the Future

“Fatherhood has been such an incredible experience,” says Emil Michael, the CEO of DPCM Capital, Inc. He and his wife, Julie, welcomed their daughter, Collette, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. It could not have come at a better time for the first-time parents. “I had much more time to spend with the new family, which caused me to prioritize my working time better,” he explains. “Parenting is demanding, and prioritization is critical if you want to have a rich career life and a fulfilling family life.”

Being responsible for all of Collette’s needs caused a shift in perspective for the former chief business officer at Uber. “I don’t think anyone really understands parenthood fully until you are a parent,” says Emil Michael. “While a leader can intellectually understand working as a parent, it is very different when you’re the one doing it.”

The Appeal of Remote Working Options

Michael enjoyed working from home as it allowed him to spend more time with his family. According to a study conducted by Flexjobs, 97% of workers want to continue remote work. And a 2021 Mercer study found that 70% of companies are planning a hybrid work model.

“In the future, we are headed to more remote working options,” agrees Emil Michael. He believes there will be “more focus from a business on child care and ensuring a workplace that is hospitable to everyone so they can do their best work.”

Emil Michael Celebrates Success With Collette

Recently, Michael rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and said that being surrounded by his loving family made it that much more special. “It was the capstone of a career that I was thankful to have experienced. I was so excited to celebrate this new phase in my career and in my life with my whole family, including Collette,” enthuses Emil Michael. “I think she really enjoyed holding the gavel and ringing the bell. I look forward to showing her the pictures someday when she will be old enough to appreciate it.”

Taking a company public was something Michael had dreamed about since immigrating to the United States from Egypt. That moment at the NYSE was a dream come true for the businessman — who earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and graduated with honors from Stanford Law School — and it gave him hope that the future will be bright for his little girl. “I was thinking about how my daughter will have so many opportunities to excel in the world that is becoming more equal and more open to people of all genders and races and religions,” Emil Michael explains. “It was exhilarating to have three generations of my family there to ring the closing bell. To us, an immigrant family, it is symbolic that anything is possible in our country.”

Emil Michael: ‘I Hope Collette Has Every Choice in the World’

The business leader knows he’s not the only parent who wants their child to be not just successful, but also satisfied. “I hope that she has every choice in the world,” says Michael. “I want her to be able to pick a career that will make her the happiest and fulfilled. Thankfully, that is becoming more and more possible all the time given how flat the world is becoming and how workplaces are reforming to take account of all potential contributors.”

Owning Mistakes and Using Your Voice

To achieve that kind of career, Emil Michael plans to encourage Collette to use her voice to advocate for herself. “One thing I have always done and continue to do is encourage women to be vocal about what they need, want, and deserve in the workplace,” he says, explaining that he strives to make a workplace that is “conscious of what women need, want, and deserve.”

According to CNBC, in 2020, 45% of women business leaders had difficulty speaking up during meetings. “One of the most important things any employee can do is speak up during meetings,” confirms Michael. “During my time at Uber, I would require everyone to share their opinion no matter what — this equalized the playing field and made sure that regardless of gender or personality, everyone had a chance to say their piece.”

Emil Michael says, “Whether it’s asking for additional professional training, new projects, or a salary increase, it is crucial to be involved in the negotiation of your own happiness at work. While the best bosses are those who can anticipate an employee’s needs and are ahead of the game, this is not always the case. Therefore it is important for all employees to ask for what they want. That is an important step to meeting your own goals. This does not only apply to women, but also to introverts or anyone who is generally less vocal about what they want, need, and deserve.”

And in business, much like in life, accidents happen. “There is truth in the saying that in order to succeed, one must take chances,” notes Michael. But conversely, taking chances can also lead to mistakes and missteps. “It’s no secret that part of growing professionally is accepting the time that you messed something up — owning negative results from taking risks not only helps you learn for the future, but it also shows you can roll with the punches.”

What does Emil Michael consider to be his biggest mistake?  “I would probably have skipped law school and [gone] right to work at a tech company as the learning opportunities by actually building something far exceed learning,” he says. Instead, he credits the time he spent early in his career working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs with helping him gain valuable insight into what it takes to lead a company, and he’s instilling that wisdom in the next generation.