Women in Technology: Insight from a Bold Strategist, Influencer

Sue Bergamo is proof that believing in oneself is the pathway to success.

I asked two women in technology what they would like to ask of another technology leader and gain further insights of their experiences when running an IT department.

As manager at Cathara Consulting, Joanne Church wanted to know, “As a leader, where are you finding renewal during such hard times? – think of the process of constant sacrifice and the renewal that leaders go through.

In response to this question, Sue, Technology Strategist for CIOs, CTOs and other C-Level Executives, replied,

“When running IT, the leader has to remain an optimist.”

“A good portion of the day is spent proactively responding to situations and the team looks to you for tone, guidance and direction. If the leader doesn’t have it all together, then neither will their team. As a proactive measure, each day, I would hold a 15-30 minute overview of any and all issues to ensure the staff was learning from these events. Then, my morning routine consisted of greeting senior staff, addressing issues, defining any changes in priorities and then getting down to the workload . Today, my role in IT is much different, so I face each day with a long run, which feeds my personal energy. ”

Joanne Church further asked “…What thoughts might you have about late commitment to allow for a pivot to ensure clients are able to deliver the most value to the business at all times versus the additional overhead to be able to accommodate the needs of a business?

Sue’s reply to this question was: “For me, there is a three-part answer to this question. First, the leader has to know the capacity of the resources to deliver on their promises and secondly, the business has the right to make last minute changes, but they also need to be aware that changes come with a cost to either the (extension of) time, cost or delivery date. Lastly, IT needs to be nimble enough to make changes and still deliver value. It’s not a matter of saying no to the customer, rather it is the trade-off when changes occur.”

Samia Haroon, Sales Consultant, Clinigence clarifies before posing her question, “We have a collaborative approach at my workplace and I’ve realized my growth being here both mentally and professionally. However, I think the biggest challenge as women in technology is, ‘How can we grow mentally first and take a leap without hesitation?” Openly, Sue replied,

“Don’t let anyone stop you. There might be temporary setbacks; but these setbacks can only make you stronger and propel you forward. Skill, experience and luck factor highly along the road of success.

In the U.S., even though women are represented in only 10-12% of IT leadership positions, opportunities for women abound. Women are appreciated for their attention to detail in delivering customer value and team building skills.”

“Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it isn’t a part of your overall plan or intention; always be on the lookout for new skills that will help to make any experience you’ve gained even more well-rounded.”

I asked Sue about her mentors. She revealed, “I have always sought out and connected with people of different levels and expertise. I enjoy working with executives and to be a sounding board for up and coming CIOs.” Today Sue works with the Society of Information Management (SIM), as a Board Member, co-chairs a career development committee and is a Real Life Mentor to a rising female executive. According to SIM’s website, “Recognizing the unique needs of the industry, SIM collects the intellectual capital of IT leaders nationwide and offers the resources you need to do business better, including face-to-face mentoring.”

Curious, I asked Sue if there was a time she doubted herself.

“I don’t doubt myself. Consciously, I embrace a decision or an idea and even if it doesn’t work out, I don’t question my motivations or desires.”

What was a memorable perspective you gained in the Boston University Executive Leadership Program?

“The leaders that attended the BU Executive program were worldwide and it didn’t matter where you resided, as we all were facing similar circumstances and scenarios. What was interesting is that the timing for all of us seemed to be the same and it was wonderful that we all found positive ways to embrace and challenge each other.”

Sue Chairs the New England District Women & Diversity Group at Microsoft.

What do you find most rewarding about this experience.

“The women at Microsoft are amazing and it is inspiring to share in each other’s stories and to provide advice and guidance. We are an inclusive group and embrace everyone, with an intention to help women grow through opportunities, while having real life support and mentorship.”

What is a major issue being addressed as a group?

“Having a work/life balance. It doesn’t matter if you are a women or a man, life is real-work is real, then you have children, a spouse, aging parents or another type of life event. The list goes on and on. Breathing, prioritizing and finding a balance is hard for everyone.”

Is there anything you can add about hiring practices or soft skills development for members of this organization?

“As someone who has hired many individuals, it is important for me that all candidates be treated fairly and objectively. Both internal or external candidates need some sort of follow up – even if that follow up is a short message regarding why they weren’t chosen for the position. This is a small area of kindness that every candidate needs from a prospective employer. Falling through the dark cracks, to never be heard from again is a horrible practice that should be stopped”, Sue stated

When I asked Sue if she could invite one person to chat with by the sea or off a less-traveled road in Europe who would that be she replied, “Princess Diana, from a worldly point of view. I would like to know how does someone who was not a part of a royal family enter into a very large and old government groundswell and manage to survive (albeit for only a short time). I believe Princess Diana acted like a CEO in her own mind and clearly made mistakes and still found a way to thrive.”

Thank you for reading this second in a series of interviews with women in technology. Please a “like” or leave a comment if you found the interview enlightening and want to will help others take notice. (Photo credit for bench – Marsha Hopkins)

Evelyn Asher is an executive coach who brings big picture perspectives to her deep dives with women leaders. She is amazed at her English garden blooming in February in North Georgia. Let’s connect.

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