In Her Own Words: Melissa Messer
March 5, 2024

With March being Women’s History Month, PAR is proud to spotlight female leaders within our organization. Throughout the month, we will share inspiring stories to recognize and celebrate the remarkable women who contribute to the success of PAR. Each of these profiles will explore the unique experiences and perspectives of our women leaders, shedding light on their paths to success. We will explore the challenges they've overcome, the lessons they've learned, and the impact they've had on our organization. 

This week, we are proud to present Melissa Messer, MHS. Melissa is PAR’s Vice President and Chief Product Officer. 

Brief Bio 

Share a brief overview of your professional journey and how you arrived at your current role. 

I was interested in psychology and mental health at a very young age and started working at a private practice office in high school. When I began college, I quickly became fascinated with research, specifically in children with chronic illness, medication adherence, and quality of life. I had the opportunity to develop several measures during my undergraduate and graduate training as well as use many PAR assessments as part of both the research and clinical work I was involved in. After completing graduate school at the University of Florida I joined PAR as a research assistant. Six positions and more than 20 years later, I have the privilege of leading a great team that is responsible for product development at PAR. 

Inspirational Figures 

Who has been the most significant inspiration in your career? 

First would be my dad, he worked his bum off his whole life and at almost 80 he still works even though he does not need to. He provided my sister and I with such an amazing model of what good work ethic should look like. Whether it be his commitment to his many jobs (I am not sure if ever worked just one job at a time while I was growing up) but also in the pride he took in the work he did (at-home projects or helping us with our schoolwork). He applied the same level of pride in what he was producing regardless of whether he was being paid for it or not. 

Second would be Travis White, the COO at PAR. He has been a mentor to me since my first day at PAR and he continues to serve that role in my life today. Without his guidance, mentorship, and a lot of patience I would not be in a leadership role at PAR. 

How did this person impact your leadership style and approach? 

There was a point early in my career where I made a very big mistake, it cost the company a significant amount of money, it delayed the release of a product, and it was 100% my fault. When I approached my supervisor about what I had done and the related expenses I held my breadth waiting for the slap on the wrist I deserved. But it never came. Instead, I was shown understanding, compassion, and even complimented for how I handled the situation head on. That moment had a significant influence on my own leadership style. I choose understanding and empathy over being authoritative; in essence, I treat everyone how I would prefer to be treated myself. 

Professional Challenges and Resilience 

Do you have an inspiring quote, song, or mantra that you use to remind yourself that you can get through anything? 

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." -Amy Poehler

I have this quote hung in the hallway of the R&D Department. To me the people I work with both motivate me to come to work everyday because I enjoy them so much and learn from them, but also, they keep me going when things get challenging–I know we are not going to let each other fail. 

Thoughts on Work–Life Balance 

How do you balance your professional and personal life? 

I think my philosophy about work–life balance is different than what you read in most work wellbeing books, especially at those aimed at working mothers–I don’t strive for perfect balance anymore, as I am not sure that is achievable. Instead, I think of work life balance like a swinging pendulum that is constantly oscillating back and forth–and as long as I am aware of when the pendulum swings too far for too long in either direction, then I can direct it back in the other direction. So for me its about being aware, and picking up on the signs that I have been spending too much time in one area or another. 

What passions or activities bring you joy and rejuvenate you outside of work? 

For years I have enjoyed running both as a hobby but also as a significant stress reliever. However, in early 2023 because of a major surgery I couldn’t run for a few months. During that time, I took up two new hobbies. The first was painting, specifically watercolor. I painted all through high school but once I left for college and started a career and had children, I never found my way back to it. I have also started making sourdough bread–I am late to this trend as I think most people got on the bandwagon during COVID. What I like about it is that it takes planning. You must start prepping a few days before, it’s not something you can decide a few hours in advance. I also like the routine of it–I usually bake at least one loaf a week. But what I like most is how much my family enjoys it, especially right when it comes out of the oven. 


Catch up on last week’s profile of Kristin Greco.