From our content partners at Fairygodboss
Michelle Cardel is multifaceted — she’s a PhD, MS and RD; the Director of Global Clinical Research & Nutrition at WW; an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine; a strategic leader and a Latina woman.
In her current position, Cardel works with WW’s academic partners, the WW Science team and with teams across the organization to ensure that everything they do is rooted in the latest advances in science. But her work doesn’t stop there; Cardel shared that, “In every position I have been in, I am constantly working to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
This work has always been important and is even more critical now since the COVID-19 pandemic “has magnified the existing gender inequities and driven millions of women out of the workforce, disproportionately affecting women of color,” explains Cardel. “These trends must be addressed or we risk reversing decades of progress toward a diverse and equitable workforce.”
Cardel recently took the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Fairygodboss about her current work, her best advice for making a company more inclusive and how WW empowers hispanic and Latina women.
Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and how long have you been in this role?
I am an obesity and nutrition scientist and registered dietitian. At WW, I oversee the company’s academic research partnerships, clinical trials and the nutrition-based aspects of our program. In collaboration with fellow scientists and teams across the organization, we plan and execute research studies, then implement and disseminate the findings for WW members, the scientific community and the greater community at large. I also oversee all new content that is based on the latest in nutrition research.
I joined the WW team in March of 2021 and prior to that, I was an assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, founder and director of the University of Florida Obesity Research Alliance and an associate director for the Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases.
What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?
Currently, we are working with our academic partners on a variety of different clinical studies and getting ready to launch some exciting new initiatives at WW. I am passionate about meeting people where they are and using science-backed approaches to help them become their healthiest selves. I love that all of the work we do directly translates into real-world applications and directly impacts millions of WW members across the globe.
What unique insights does your experience of being a Latina woman give you in your career? How has WW supported you in this?
In the Hispanic community, family is everything. I come from a long line of strong and inspiring Puerto Rican women. At every point in my career, they have been by my side, cheering me on and encouraging me to be the best that I can be.
One of the important crossroads in my career was when Dr. Gary Foster, WW’s Chief Scientific Officer, approached me about this role at WW. At that time, I had a wonderful and fulfilling job as an assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the idea of leaving my comfort zone as an academic terrified me. However, my family taught me that we don’t learn and grow by staying comfortable — it is only when we leave that comfort zone and take risks, do we find out who we are truly capable of becoming.
I am grateful to my family’s love and unconditional support which gave me the courage to take this opportunity to join the WW science team, where we impact the lives of millions of WW members through our science-backed program.
How does your company celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
WW has been celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month through things like: tips on living the WW plan while staying true to cultural foods, amplifying members who are part of the Hispanic community as well as insightful conversations and engaging activities. We also hosted a virtual, internal wine-tasting with the founders and owners of Mi Sueño winery, one of the great independently owned and operated wineries in California. It was so inspiring to learn about their incredible story and experience of how their dream, Mi Sueño, came to fruition.
You’ll also find delicious hispanic recipes inspired by the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain as well as inspirational member spotlights by fellow Hispanic members through WW’s Instagram and landing page. You can also show your support and help to make a difference by contributing to a hispanic-led organization featured on our page.
What is your advice for women who want to make the company they work for more inclusive?
The times where I have been most successful in implementing change are when I did my homework and strategically planned my proposed changes based on what the organization’s mission was and what was most beneficial to them.
Though we all want to strive for these things because it is the right thing to do, I’ve seen even better success in getting change implemented when there was a tangible benefit to the institution that was presented along with it.