In this blog post
1. Tell us something about your childhood. What values had been instilled in you that helped you excel later in your life?
I grew up as an only child and was raised by 2 wonderful parents in the suburbs outside of Chicago. That meant I had a lot of focus and attention on me! My parents instilled a strong work ethic, and they taught me to never quit something I started. If I made an athletic team and I wasn’t enjoying it, then I at least had to finish the season. They also taught me to be kind, to value the friendships I have made, be a ‘people person’ and never forget to laugh and have some fun.
2. When did you discover your passion for technology/data?
At a very young age. I was always interested in science/STEM and wanted to be a doctor when I was young. I actually graduated with a degree in biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I worked for the University and attended grad school for a few years after graduation on a genetic engineering project that involved gathering, analyzing, and presenting a lot of data. I ultimately learned that I wanted a more social career, then working pretty much solo in a lab, so I entered the business world as a financial analyst. My work in analytics and my career in data management grew from there.
3. How would you define success?
Success comes in many forms, but for me it’s tied to finding something that you are passionate about and then giving it your 100% and bringing others with you along the way because you cannot be successful on your own. There is a quote by Emerson that I keep on my refrigerator that sums up success for me “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
4. Looking back on your journey and knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would have given yourself along the way?
I put a lot of pressure on myself earlier on in my career to be perfect. At times I put the weight of the company on my shoulders when it really wasn’t my problem to solve. I’ve learned to better understand my role, put things into perspective, and understand what my team and I can do to make a difference.
5. How can more women shatter the glass ceiling in their careers?
I’ve found it to be helpful to identify mentors and sponsors within your organization or even outside of your organization – regardless of gender. Mentors are important to help you problem-solve and help get you the skills that you may need for your next opportunity, whereas sponsors will advocate for you and may end up recommending you for a role, project, etc. when you are not in the room. You want both. You also need to develop your power to influence. If you can clearly articulate your vision, strategy and where you are looking for support to accomplish that vision then, it goes a long way toward a successful execution.
6. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity – Through equity, we can reach equality. Could you share your thoughts on what steps corporates can take to #EmbraceEquity?
A lot of companies are implementing DEI efforts, and spending a lot of money on it, but few are really seeing results. You can certainly have diversity without inclusion and vice-versa – it’s integrating the two together that takes time and effort. I would encourage companies to first identify the outcomes they are trying to accomplish. It may be more women or underrepresented groups in leadership roles, reduced attrition rates, improved employee survey results, etc. And in the true spirit of data – you measure and monitor it to assess the impact. Gradually, it becomes a value system within the culture of the organization.