Daring to Fail

Serving as the student body president during her time at Bradley led Sarah Handler ‘16 to be featured on MSNBC.com in a series highlighting collegiate female leaders. In this feature Handler was asked to share the best advice she had ever gotten, and she replied simply: “Dare to Fail.” This mindset guided her throughout her Industrial Engineering studies and continues to be a central philosophy as she challenges herself professionally and personally.

“There’s a lot of fear of failure, but if you’re not occasionally failing then you’re not learning anything, or seeing your full capabilities,” she explained.

The desire to push herself and learn from failure was cultivated while at Bradley. “College is a really safe space for trying new things,” she said, “and learning to be okay with failure.” This led her to pursue many opportunities inside and outside the classroom that instilled lessons she has applied in positions she’s held at Microsoft and Netflix.

Handler now recognizes her most valuable lessons came from this mix of academic and extracurricular activities at Bradley. “There are things that aren’t traditional work experiences that helped me hit the ground running after graduation, like being in student government or working and socializing with students from other majors.” These opportunities blended with her coursework to create a unique confidence in her own ability to learn and solve problems.

“I know I can go into any new challenge and figure it out because that was so much of my Bradley experience: developing my ability to learn,” Handler said.

Her confidence from merging these experiences landed her in a career she never imagined. Handler has led teams in product management and cybersecurity at both Microsoft and Netflix. The responsibility of this position is a welcomed challenge for her. “I love product management because I get to weave my technical acumen with understanding people and business.”

While leading teams, Handler has not only continued building upon her interdisciplinary insights from Bradley but also been passing along her best piece of advice. “I tell my teams to learn which things in life are glass and which are rubber,” she explained. “Some things we can fail at and we will bounce back like rubber, while others can break like glass and need more attention and care.”

Finding this balance and learning when to take risks is a skill that takes time, but Handler doesn’t think that should ever stop us from daring to fail in order to learn and succeed!

-Adam Morris

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Sarah Handler '16