Her Road into Tech and the Path Forward

Author: Heather L. Boisrond
Publish Date: 10/01/20

“It is a great feeling to impact social and economic trends, and see that work on full display in the global marketplace.”

- Sonal Patel, VP Marketing, Verizon Partner Solutions

As trends in gender diversity increase, organizations are experiencing profound success—according to McKinsey, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

Being a leader is never easy, much less a female leader in the highly competitive, male-dominated technology industry. Through support of programs like Women of the World (WOW), WAVE and more, Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS), shows a commitment to women at all levels and job functions. Also, having support to drive equity is key to success. The work that Verizon Partner Solutions leader Eric Cevis has been doing in the industry, along with Verizon

As the last of our three-part series highlights women throughout various Verizon business units, we asked some of our top leaders within the organization to remark on their storied career journeys, and to offer advice for the increasingly larger pool of female executives in the technology industry. 

Overcoming Challenges

Women in tech have faced many challenging experiences since the first woman walked through the very first door to her tech position and got the “Why are you here?” stare.  The long standing disparity between the work experiences of men and women in the world is not a new conversation. What is new, is the women in tech and the companies they work, are driving the conversation and resources to support positive change, forward in an effort to rectify the problem. Verizon and its female leaders are an example the industry can look toward, reminding women in tech that they are not alone on their journey.

As VPS Director of Strategy Jenn Parkhill notes, “There has been great effort by Verizon and many other organizations to provide leadership and mentorship programs for women in the industry. Many global organizations recognize that a gender diverse organization can have a positive impact on financial performance. Beyond economic return, there is a virtuous cycle as diversity in the workplace attracts further diversity. That being said, there is still work to be done. We need to each continue to pave the way for girls coming behind us and create work environments that are supportive and encouraging for women to be successful”.

In business, diversity of thought and conversation is key in helping to best serve the needs of our customers. With client contacts comprising both men and women, it is important to reflect that same balance within an organization to help solve critical business decisions and approach problems from all angles-ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

Verizon is taking a leadership role in the industry to promote gender balance and provide opportunities for leadership and mentorship to women in the industry. Increasing awareness and programs to support women growing in organizations is key to overcoming career challenges and making a difference.

The Way Forward

Technology is shaping our world today, and our world tomorrow. While the work may seem intimidating from the outside looking in because this is one of the fastest-paced industries you can find, but that only makes the satisfaction of reaching the top that much sweeter. Women like Tara O’Brien Wu—Verizon Business Group’s Associate General Counsel—are “invigorated by the cutting-edge, evolving and ubiquitous nature of technology and its role in our lives.”

If you’re drawn to constant learning and bettering yourself, then you will rise through the ranks in this field with ease. VPS HR Business Partner LaShanta Twitty says, “Working for Verizon provided me an opportunity to learn something different every day. Lifelong learning and technology goes hand in hand, as the industry is ever-changing.”

While the work is challenging and stimulating, getting to do it at all requires dedication, willingness to learn and, as VPS Client Services Director Suzy Norton puts it, direct action—“If you’re looking to join the technology industry, ask for what you want. Say it out loud, say it often and own it. We’re in business. So, lay out the business plan for what you want—whether it’s more responsibility, money or flexibility. Believe in yourself!”

Choose Your Path 

If you want to climb the ladder in technology, you have to start somewhere. But the moves you make early on in your career can define the path you ultimately take—some of them longer and windier than others. With more than 25 years in tech under her belt, VPS Division VP Lynn Smullen often tells industry up-and-comers, “Invest genuinely and intently in building your own personal and professional network of peers, mentors, teachers, partners and coaches across the industry. Seek out people you admire and who hold positions you aspire to—be curious, be a good listener and remember the most valuable networks are those that are active and bilateral.”

The fascinating part about the technology industry is that no matter your talent or background, people can come together in an effort to advance the human ability to communicate within the world, with greater momentum as each year passes.

For those aspiring to be a female leader in the technology industry, here are six lessons everyone should follow to succeed in their role:

·         Be authentic.

·         Kindness is not weakness.

·         Continue to learn as you move through life.

·         Be prepared, do your homework, understand your work and surround yourself with the right people.

· If you need help getting something done, do not be afraid to ask-the worst they can say is no, and then you are no further behind than where you began. Plus, at least you tried!

·        Try not to get in your own way—if you have an opportunity to move mountains, don't be afraid to try to move them!

The Future is Inclusive

In order to attract even more women to technology-based roles, it is important to develop the skills at an early age. School-based programs can help drive the twinkle in the eyes of future women leaders, and organizations can more frequently introduce technology-rooted words to young girls to better familiarize them with the many possibilities that technology fields offer.

According to Verizon Partner Solutions Marketing leader Sonal Patel, “There is an entire ecosystem of career paths that support technology including finance, marketing, operations, engineering etc. You can create a career with a variety of functional skills that all support technology and advancements in society. If you dream it, you can achieve it!”

Final Thoughts

My mother began her career in telecommunications in the '80s. Although not the easiest path for a woman at that time, she not only survived, but thrived-remembering that a network is stronger than an individual. She knew the value of great mentorship, a valuable business community and supporting others along the way.

Although this series has focused on women in technology, it is important to remember that, women and men alike need each other in this world, with varied talents and diverse backgrounds and opinions-continuing to advance the human ability in this world. Being a part of that forward movement is an opportunity for individuals, teams, and businesses to make a true difference in the tech industry.

__

If you’d like to learn more about what a career in a STEM role looks like and how we can build a better path forward, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Women in Tech Series. If you’d like to get more involved with combating gender inequality within STEM, please check out the Global Leaders Forum's Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Report.

Author: Heather L. Boisrond
Publish Date: 10/01/20

“It is a great feeling to impact social and economic trends, and see that work on full display in the global marketplace.”

- Sonal Patel, VP Marketing, Verizon Partner Solutions

As trends in gender diversity increase, organizations are experiencing profound success—according to McKinsey, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

Being a leader is never easy, much less a female leader in the highly competitive, male-dominated technology industry. Through support of programs like Women of the World (WOW), WAVE and more, Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS), shows a commitment to women at all levels and job functions. Also, having support to drive equity is key to success. The work that Verizon Partner Solutions leader Eric Cevis has been doing in the industry, along with Verizon

As the last of our three-part series highlights women throughout various Verizon business units, we asked some of our top leaders within the organization to remark on their storied career journeys, and to offer advice for the increasingly larger pool of female executives in the technology industry. 

Overcoming Challenges

Women in tech have faced many challenging experiences since the first woman walked through the very first door to her tech position and got the “Why are you here?” stare.  The long standing disparity between the work experiences of men and women in the world is not a new conversation. What is new, is the women in tech and the companies they work, are driving the conversation and resources to support positive change, forward in an effort to rectify the problem. Verizon and its female leaders are an example the industry can look toward, reminding women in tech that they are not alone on their journey.

As VPS Director of Strategy Jenn Parkhill notes, “There has been great effort by Verizon and many other organizations to provide leadership and mentorship programs for women in the industry. Many global organizations recognize that a gender diverse organization can have a positive impact on financial performance. Beyond economic return, there is a virtuous cycle as diversity in the workplace attracts further diversity. That being said, there is still work to be done. We need to each continue to pave the way for girls coming behind us and create work environments that are supportive and encouraging for women to be successful”.

In business, diversity of thought and conversation is key in helping to best serve the needs of our customers. With client contacts comprising both men and women, it is important to reflect that same balance within an organization to help solve critical business decisions and approach problems from all angles-ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

Verizon is taking a leadership role in the industry to promote gender balance and provide opportunities for leadership and mentorship to women in the industry. Increasing awareness and programs to support women growing in organizations is key to overcoming career challenges and making a difference.

The Way Forward

Technology is shaping our world today, and our world tomorrow. While the work may seem intimidating from the outside looking in because this is one of the fastest-paced industries you can find, but that only makes the satisfaction of reaching the top that much sweeter. Women like Tara O’Brien Wu—Verizon Business Group’s Associate General Counsel—are “invigorated by the cutting-edge, evolving and ubiquitous nature of technology and its role in our lives.”

If you’re drawn to constant learning and bettering yourself, then you will rise through the ranks in this field with ease. VPS HR Business Partner LaShanta Twitty says, “Working for Verizon provided me an opportunity to learn something different every day. Lifelong learning and technology goes hand in hand, as the industry is ever-changing.”

While the work is challenging and stimulating, getting to do it at all requires dedication, willingness to learn and, as VPS Client Services Director Suzy Norton puts it, direct action—“If you’re looking to join the technology industry, ask for what you want. Say it out loud, say it often and own it. We’re in business. So, lay out the business plan for what you want—whether it’s more responsibility, money or flexibility. Believe in yourself!”

Choose Your Path 

If you want to climb the ladder in technology, you have to start somewhere. But the moves you make early on in your career can define the path you ultimately take—some of them longer and windier than others. With more than 25 years in tech under her belt, VPS Division VP Lynn Smullen often tells industry up-and-comers, “Invest genuinely and intently in building your own personal and professional network of peers, mentors, teachers, partners and coaches across the industry. Seek out people you admire and who hold positions you aspire to—be curious, be a good listener and remember the most valuable networks are those that are active and bilateral.”

The fascinating part about the technology industry is that no matter your talent or background, people can come together in an effort to advance the human ability to communicate within the world, with greater momentum as each year passes.

For those aspiring to be a female leader in the technology industry, here are six lessons everyone should follow to succeed in their role:

·         Be authentic.

·         Kindness is not weakness.

·         Continue to learn as you move through life.

·         Be prepared, do your homework, understand your work and surround yourself with the right people.

· If you need help getting something done, do not be afraid to ask-the worst they can say is no, and then you are no further behind than where you began. Plus, at least you tried!

·        Try not to get in your own way—if you have an opportunity to move mountains, don't be afraid to try to move them!

The Future is Inclusive

In order to attract even more women to technology-based roles, it is important to develop the skills at an early age. School-based programs can help drive the twinkle in the eyes of future women leaders, and organizations can more frequently introduce technology-rooted words to young girls to better familiarize them with the many possibilities that technology fields offer.

According to Verizon Partner Solutions Marketing leader Sonal Patel, “There is an entire ecosystem of career paths that support technology including finance, marketing, operations, engineering etc. You can create a career with a variety of functional skills that all support technology and advancements in society. If you dream it, you can achieve it!”

Final Thoughts

My mother began her career in telecommunications in the '80s. Although not the easiest path for a woman at that time, she not only survived, but thrived-remembering that a network is stronger than an individual. She knew the value of great mentorship, a valuable business community and supporting others along the way.

Although this series has focused on women in technology, it is important to remember that, women and men alike need each other in this world, with varied talents and diverse backgrounds and opinions-continuing to advance the human ability in this world. Being a part of that forward movement is an opportunity for individuals, teams, and businesses to make a true difference in the tech industry.

__

If you’d like to learn more about what a career in a STEM role looks like and how we can build a better path forward, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Women in Tech Series. If you’d like to get more involved with combating gender inequality within STEM, please check out the Global Leaders Forum's Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Report.