The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.
We are pleased to introduce Theresa Stadheim, in her own words:
Years working in IP:
Years with current organization:
Associate at Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner (SLW)
What I do:
I prepare and prosecute patents in the electrical, computer, and mechanical arts, with a focus on telecommunication patents and more specifically on standards-essential patents. I speak on various patent law topics through AIPLA and am Co-Editor in Chief of a book to be published through AIPLA regarding standards and standards-essential patents. I am also involved in the Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association and I chair the women’s committee of that organization.
Before law school, I was an electrical engineer at leading companies in the automotive industry and the printer industry, including John Deere, Datacard, HP ColorSpan and Case New Holland.
Years and involvement with AIPLA:
I have been involved with AIPLA since 2012. I went to the Annual Meeting that year and became active on the Program Planning Committee. From there I got involved in drafting speaker papers for several of the AIPLA speakers. Then, Iris Mok got me involved with the IP Practice in Europe Committee, through which I was able to speak on various topics both in Europe and at the 2015 Spring Meeting. Also, through the Program Planning Committee and through Brad Forrest, I met Michael Drapkin and became involved in my book project involving Standards and Standards-Essential Patents.
Q. What was the best professional decision you ever made?
Taking a risk to leave engineering to go to law school. Engineering was a secure, well-paid field to be in, but I knew I’d like patent law even better.
Q. What was the worst professional decision you ever made?
Taking the first engineering job I could find after graduating, rather than holding out for what I really wanted. Luckily, I was able to meet and get help from people who could get me my dream engineering job, but it would have been easy to get bogged down or become complacent rather than seeking what I really wanted.
Q. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?
Being involved on my book project. A lot of people never get a chance to be involved on such a high-visibility project, but through personal achievement and through connections, I am able to realize that dream.
Q. In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The first time you try it, you might feel like you’re being too aggressive but it is important to remember that others can’t read your mind. Sometimes speaking up is the only way to let others know what is important to you. I recall having a talk with one boss about something I was interested in doing, and he said he had no idea that I was interested in such a project. I got put on that project right away!
Q. What is the best advice you have received?
Never be ashamed to ask for help. People will remember the good things you accomplished, and you will avoid getting behind on things by delegating tasks that others can perform just as well.
More about Theresa:
If they bottled my personality, the label would read:
Warning: Contagious Energy and Enthusiasm Enclosed!
Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:
Managing the work of others. This is something I never did as an engineer and something I thought I wouldn’t like, but I’ve recently started doing this at my firm. I’ve learned a lot and been through trials and tribulations (probably with more to come), but it has been personally and professionally rewarding!
One thing people are surprised to find out about me:
I am a ham radio operator (call sign NS9C). I used to be involved in the local ham radio club as a volunteer examiner, general technical consultant, and FEMA organizer, though I haven’t had time since becoming an attorney. I’ve been a ham since high school and it is what got me interested in electrical engineering as a profession.