Take Risks, Collaborate, Focus on Big Enterprise Picture to Lead in Age of Digital Disruption

ITWomen Fireside Chat - Advancing Leadership in Age of Disruption

Risk taking, vision and bold moves to network beyond the cubicle were mantras for tech leaders in the Age of Digital Disruption as ITWomen kicked off our Professional Development 2017 series with a high-energy, sold-out program Feb 16.

Welcomed into in the creative ‘Sandbox’ of PwC’s Experience Center, the crowd of about 70 ITwomen members and guests in the IT industry gathered to participate in a dynamic leadership presentation by Boston-based Pam Stenson, CIO Executive Council (CEC) president and chair of Women in Leadership

Pam opened her presentation with a Q&A icebreaker game of ‘catch’ beachball with out-of-the-box questions tossed into the audience (pitch perfect for PwC’s ‘Sandbox’ space). 

“I’m not going to talk about skills or IT, we’re talking about transformational structure and personal structure, not sitting in a cube coding all day. Move from the tech perspective to see how everything beyond contributes to the business you’re in,” she began. 

If you score high on the ability to “Collaborate and Influence”  you’re positioned for the biggest growth area in today’s market, she said. That’s good news for women, who tended to score high in that area in a major study on core CIO competencies commissioned from Egon Zehnder. The study drew from 40,000 respondents. 

CIOs are spending freely for help in implementing all kinds of different organizational changes today, she said. “If your focus is across the enterprise and infiltrating and influencing, you’re in the sweet spot of transformational and improving processes,” she said. But Pam cautioned that cultivating relationships with stakeholders who could be key to your goals in the future need to begin well before you need them. 

The invaluable and personal Fireside Chat following the keynote highlighted female CIOs at the top of their game in national and international enterprises headquartered in South Florida.

Moderator Sharon Moura, VP, Johnson Controls, asked questions that elicited candid stories of how the CIOs first started out in tech, and the turning points in their career. CIOs Marie Lee of ILG, Tery Howard of the Miami Dolphins and Emily Ashworth of ABB Optical attributed the risks they took to their growth as tech leaders and influencers in their companies.  

Failure Is an Option
The Big Message to the members of all ages in the audience, but especially young women in the early stages of their careers: Do not fear failure. Or as Tery Howard put it, Failure Is An Option: What matters is that you get up and move on. Failure can be your friend and the doorway to your destination where you will reach your full potential.

Top challenges Cited in the Age of Digital Disruption:

  • Mergers & Acquisitions bringing new management.  Tery Howard: If you can’t assimilate new directions and make the best of it you may have to move on.
  • Digital Disruptions such as the sharing economy attracting millennials.
     Marie Lee: “We are going to have to transform and we’re seeing a shift in mobile, now post-mobile apps.” Emily: “Requests for gamification in hand-held devices.” Tery: “All our campaigns are social, we have to scale at a moment’s notice.” 
  • More Focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Emily: Curiosity is one of the most valuable traits you can have. I’m shocked at how many people in IT don’t grasp what they’re building and why.” 

“Advancing Women in Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption” kicked off ITWomen’s Professional Development series for 2017.  The series are part of our mission to Inspire, Educate and Empower.

PWC PricewaterhouseCoopers, Inc.PwC, one of ITWomen’s Sustaining Partners, hosted the program venue at its Experience Center located in The Villages by Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. 

— Christine Zambrano
ITWomen VP Digital Content