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Insights from Four CIOs Who Happen to Be Women

Originally Posted on Author's Blog

href="https://www.mcwt.org/"> class="alignright size-full wp-image-13001" alt="mcwtlogo" src="http://sazbean.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/mcwtlogo.jpg" width="258" height="121" />I had the pleasure and honor to be invited to the Executive Technology Leadership Forum which was organized by the href="http://www.mcwt.org">Michigan Council of Women in Technology.  The event provided insights from 8 different executive information officers, all from large, Fortune 500 companies (Ford, Chrysler, GM, IBM, Walmart, Cisco, Boeing, State of Michigan) — and half of them happened to be women! Listening to the 4 women was intriguing.  They were very transparent and honest, with valuable advice to any women pursing a career in IT — who think of themselves as CIOs who happen to be women, not Women CIOs. id="more-12999">



Panel Members:

  • style="line-height: 13px;">Kim Hammonds, CIO, Boeing
  • Sheila Jordan, Senior Vice President, Communication and Collaboration IT, Cisco
  • Karenann Terrall, Executive Vice President and CIO, Walmart
  • Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Global Business Services, IBM

Embrace Risk

Changing jobs, careers or industries is risky.  But embracing risk can lead to huge rewards. Knowing when to jump to a new position, and being ok with uncertainty will help you look for new opportunities to grow and advance.  Changing cultures, either in a different role, division, company or industry, helps you grow in new ways and lets you shine by giving you an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in one place to a new one.

Network with Like-Minded People

Networking is obviously important for everyone, but networking with like-minded people, regardless of their industry or role, introduces you to new ways of thinking and gives you a sounding-board for your own ideas. Regularly meeting in a group of 20-30 like-minded individuals can provide the support system to improve your career.

Find Good Mentors

No one knows everything.  Mentors are people who you look to advice. Having many different mentors, in different backgrounds and for different types of advice can provide a breadth of information and ability to tap into a library of experience. These women looked for people they admired, not just in IT, but in various aspects of life.

Be Patient with Yourself

Change can be very stressful — whether it’s due to changing jobs or from a fast-paced environment.  Giving yourself a chance to learn and try different things will lead to better decisions over time.  Driving yourself crazy hurts your health and isn’t productive.  Be patient in your ability to learn and adapt.  Work towards that patience.

Analysts Will Be Crucial

Organizations have access to amazing amounts of data.  Sifting, filtering and analyzing that data for business intelligence insights is going to be key to competitive advantages for most companies.  Right now there are not enough analytics people — it’s going to be the hottest job skill in the near future (good to hear!).

Work/Life Integration

Work / Life Balance is a myth.  They will never “balance” and it’s very stressful if you try.  At different times, one or the other will have more of your attention.  The key is to strive for work/life integration and balance over the long run.  If you end up working a lot of hours one week on a project, maybe the next week, you have some extra time at home.  Or maybe when something important happens, like your kid’s school play, you’re able to take time off because you’re valuable to the company and do a good job.

Conclusion = Be Yourself

The honesty and transparency of the four women was refreshing.  Each had a different personality and ideas.  They clearly got where they are because of who they are and the confidence in themselves.  All of them agreed that the key to doing well is finding something that you love.

The href="https://www.mcwt.org/">Michigan Council of Women in Technology seems like a wonderful group to network with like-minded women — to share ideas, to meet new people, and to learn and grow.

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