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Celebrating Women: Vicki Mealer-Burke

Qualcomm’s chief diversity officer knows how to listen—and say yes


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Photo by Becca Batista

You just celebrated your 20th anniversary at Qualcomm.

When I joined the company, the person who interviewed me was employee number 300 something and I was in the 5,500s. I was hired as a business process analyst and I had no idea what that was. I immediately went into the IT department, then to a new business unit. I was able to be involved in three new business units, and the fourth led me to be the vice president and general manager of a wholly owned subsidiary focused on education.

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

Being part of the history of the telecommunications industry and the way that we use our smartphones. My greatest pride and pleasure is being the first diversity officer and having an opportunity to develop the future of the company. We have to be more purposeful about hiring the best person for a position.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

When we decided to shut down the education business unit. I was part of the creation of that department. From there, I took on the Executive Women’s Leadership Council and co-created Qualcomm’s Executive Women’s Leadership Development Program, a group of eight female vice presidents.

Tell us about the importance of mentorship.

I’ve had a number of mentors at Qualcomm, men and women. Having role models was helpful. I believe that when you see it, you can achieve it. I’ve taken part in many mentorship programs, trying to help employees expand their networks. When I became chief diversity officer eight months ago, I went on a listening tour and have met and talked with hundreds of people to see what they’re thinking and what their issues are.

Raise your hand, say yes, put yourself out there. If you’re not hearing no, you’re not trying hard enough.

Do you have a family?

My wife, Lisa Mealer-Burke, and I have been together for 25 years. We were married in 2008 when it became legal. We have a daughter, Sydney, who’s 14.

How do you spend your family time?

Most of our time has been around sports with our daughter. We love outdoor activities like biking and jogging.

What are your community activities?

I’m a participant and financial supporter of Susan G. Komen breast cancer events throughout San Diego. I also support Athena Pinnacle Scholarships for local high school students in STEM programs. I was recently the keynote speaker at the Athena Awards dinner.

What advice would you give to others?

Raise your hand, say yes, put yourself out there. When I was hired as a business analyst, I didn’t know what that was. Procurement got me in the door and I immediately moved on from there. If you’re not hearing no, you’re not trying hard enough. Don’t be picky.

What don’t we know about you?

I’m pretty out there. I am more emotional than people see. Combined with being a middle child, I was always the peacemaker.

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