Steal her secrets series: West Michigan plastic surgeon answers 25 career questions

woman of the week

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room and you can just tell she’s got it going on!  You wish you could be her or simply wish you knew her secret to success.  WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work.  We’re having them dish the details on everything from work life to home life and what has led to their career success.

25 Questions with Dr. Marguerite Aitken


Meet Dr. Marguerite Aitken. She’s a physician and one of the owners of Plastic Surgery Associates in Grand Rapids. She wears many hats that include running a business, helping patients and being a mom! But there’s a lot more to know about this power woman and her career. Read our interview with the fabulous Dr. Marguerite Aitken.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

As an art major at the University of Michigan, I always knew I would be a practicing artist. At that time, I never dreamed I would have the honor to provide the services to patients that I do today as a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. Beyond just the role of physician, this job satisfies me with the physical, mental and emotional demands on a daily basis. I enjoy taking patients from misshapen to happy, from a cancer diagnosis to well, from satisfied to elated. With the help of my wonderful partners and staff, I have learned on the fly business management, retail sales and marketing as a side job. Every day is an awesome combination of problem solving and creation.

CREDIT: Plastic Surgery Associates
CREDIT: Plastic Surgery Associates

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

 Items: hand sanitizer, lipstick, checkbook (old school!) Surprise item: Spectrum health putting green repair device.

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Artist. Painter. Medical illustrator.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Everyday I think those classic words, “Do what you love at work and you will never work a day in your life.” But I tell students I mentor to follow a plan that works for you and your life, but watch for opportunities to make changes. Don’t be afraid to take chances and make change.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

Waitress at a pizza restaurant in Ann Arbor. Some nightmares, some hilariousness.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

Listened to my mentors, bit the bullet and quit my job, went back to school and followed my dream of being a plastic surgeon.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Heels. All day, every day until I cannot!

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

Not okay. If you want to be the boss, don’t let them see you cry.

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

My dad always said, “Surround yourself with talented people and you will do well.” I rely heavily on my husband and my babysitters and never blame my absence on my work. I don’t want my kids to resent my work life, it will not bode well for them in the future. As for clocking out…I am a doctor. We don’t clock out. At my house I say “We share.”

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

Do, as long as you can still be productive while doing it. Lunch is often a luxury.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

The thank you’s from patients, the happy screams when I get home from work, the sunrise, a clean car. I am blessed and am grateful all the time.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

I can’t say that I ever blundered. Either by skill or sheer luck, I have gotten all the jobs I have applied for.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

Most mornings: toothbrush and pick out clothes at same time. Maybe make coffee to go. Facial toner, retinol, combo moisturizer with spf. Clothes on and head out.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

Teacher of the year 2016 wearing my other hat as Assistant Clinical Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery for Michigan State Medical School College of Human Medicine.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

My family.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

5:25am, (if you don’t count getting up at 2:45 to see to my little guy who spent his first night in a “big boy bed!”)

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

Despite what most people think, I do not critically judge people when I meet them.  I notice, like everyone else, someone’s sense of themselves, their “Presence.”

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

“I want to age like that,” by Diana Bitner, MD.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

Depending on how much time I have, either 2 or 10. I erase more than I read and am more available by text.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

Halt and Catch Fire on AMC. A look back at the start of the computer internet world.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

For a work meeting – my office, so I don’t have to go far.  I don’t have to go to very many meetings.  Social meeting – any place on the water.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

My calendar runs my life. While it is not truly an app, it makes my life more organized and simply easier.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

Taking the oral board exams for 2 days.  Passing makes it all that much more satisfying too.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Not very original, but works.

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

Where do I start? The patients, my awesome staff, professional challenges, fun procedures, my beautiful workplace including our new Spa, valet parking? So many to chose from, but ultimately the satisfaction of my patients is the best part of all my days. Creating a plan and attaining it with them is the most rewarding of challenges. I see it in their smiles, their posture, their handshake, their confidence. their dress, as well as their spouses support. Its amazing!


Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Other women featured in this series!

power woman of the week

Founder of community arts center answers 25 career questions

West Michigan TV station general manager answers 25 career questions

West Michigan radio host answer 25 career questions

West Michigan lawyer answer 25 career questions

West Michigan coffee shop owner answers 25 career questions

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