Sabra Truesdale Discusses Western Digital’s Community of Wellness

Western Digital’s Sabra Truesdale explains how focusing on fitness can unite a company

Sabra Truesdale Western Digital
Sabra Truesdale, Associate General Counsel of IP, Western Digital Photo by Dawdy Photography

As one of the largest data-technology companies manufacturing flash-storage and hard-disk drives in the world, Western Digital (WD) is finding a way to instill its drive in more than just its products. Through the DRIVE Fitness and DRIVE Wellness Center programs, the company is leading the way in health consciousness and wellness options for all of its employees. Associate general counsel of intellectual property Sabra Truesdale is one of WD’s more shining examples of the benefits of these programs and their capacity to unite and inspire.

Truesdale, who has been at WD since joining the HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) division in 2015, says that the company’s DRIVE Fitness initiative and its buy-in from the organization was immediately noticeable upon her arrival. Truesdale saw both HGST’s president and general counsel engaged in workouts, and she says it made an impression. “It was important to see the president participating in the workout and realize I’m not going to get in trouble for exercising,” Truesdale says. “If the president or GC is also taking an hour during the day to be active, I can, too.”

At the Great Oaks campus in San Jose, California, where Truesdale resides, the DRIVE Fitness program offers both yoga and CrossFit-style classes. Truesdale participates in both classes and has been a vocal proponent of the program for more than its health benefits.

When Truesdale first came to WD, she was coming from a firm and had no in-house experience. She suddenly had attorneys reporting to her who had been at the company far longer than she. Truesdale was able to bond with one of her direct reports through the CrossFit classes and says it made an immediate and significant difference in their relationship. “It definitely helped me get to know him better and make him more comfortable with me, because we had something else to talk about other than work,” she says.

Truesdale is something of an informal ambassador for the health initiatives at WD. She works to publicize events, including the company’s outdoor summer workouts and occasional outdoor yoga. Truesdale, whose athletic endeavors have included gymnastics, running, strength conditioning, tennis, and aerobics at one time or another, says that as a mother of two, being able to have time to be active during the workday is an invaluable time-saver.

At the same time, WD’s recently rolled-out DRIVE Wellness Center program  for WD employees, their spouses, and additional dependents, Truesdale says. Each center’s services include primary care, physical therapy, chiropractic care, health coaching, acupuncture, and behavioral health, among others. The DRIVE Wellness Center debuted at WD’s Irvine, California, campus and subsequently expanded to the company’s other two largest US locations.

Along with their day-to-day services, the programs are partnering to offer joint seminars and trainings for WD employees. These include weight-training tutorials, mindfulness and meditation seminars, and mobility and flexibility trainings. Campus-wide health screenings have also been made available through joint partnerships of the wellness and fitness programs.

Truesdale says that along with getting sick less and being able to focus better at work, the health and wellness programs have provided the additional benefit of helping employees get to know other individual members of their massive organization. “WD is something like sixty-five thousand people worldwide,” Truesdale says. “WD classes help you get to know your coworkers, build teamwork, and locate resources within the company.”

The classes offer Truesdale a chance to introduce herself to people from all parts of WD. “As part of the legal department, we’re not the focus of WD,” Truesdale says. “Legal is a service, and in order for us to do our jobs better, people need to know who we are and what we can do for them.” The inclusivity of WD’s classes is what makes them special, Truesdale says, because they are available to everyone from the CEO to the manufacturing operators.

The fitness mantra may be “no pain, no gain,” but WD’s approach to wellness seems to be much more focused on the gains.

Ensuring Representation for Inventors

Sabra Truesdale’s drive spills over into commitments to more than just wellness. She has also been instrumental in the development of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Pro Bono Program. Additionally, Truesdale was the Fenwick & West Pro Bono Associate of the Year for her cocreation of the California Inventors Assistance Program, which seeks to “help underresourced inventors and small businesses obtain the patents they need to turn their ideas into viable economic opportunities.” Truesdale’s efforts have helped spread what was initially only a Minnesota-based pilot program into a national effort that now ensures that inventors, no matter their location, have patent representation.

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Kunzler, P.C.:

Sabra has a keen eye for detail while keeping a firm grasp on the big picture. WD’s in great hands. It’s an honor to work with her.

—Scott Hilton and Bryan Massey, Partners