Tis the season to give back

I am committed to developing the next generation of leaders. I also give generously to non-profits that I care about. This week, those two passions converged.

I hosted a “lunch and learn” with five women from Cisco. Jay Roberts, director operations sales, has been a strong supporter of Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT), like many leaders in technology companies. At the annual MCWT gala fundraiser in October, I donated a “lunch and learn” session. I offered to meet with four women over lunch to have an open discussion on women’s leadership issues. Jay bid it up until he had no more competition. He then went back to Cisco and recommended a group of women to participate.

The women who lunched with me all currently work in the sales division for this technology company. They have different backgrounds in terms of college experience, technology education, and family history. They shared their stories and challenges with me. I asked each of them what they wanted to get out of our two hours together. After all, they all had plenty of work to do back at the office.

They wanted to talk about: work life balance and making time for self; how to lead with assertiveness and compassion yet not mother staff; common mistakes women leaders make; and where best to focus their volunteer energy.

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Nurses got talent

It doesn’t matter what you think about beauty pageants. It doesn’t matter if it’s been years since you watched one. If you have ever been cared for by a nurse you need to know about the dust-up last week following the 2015 Miss America pageant. Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, is a nurse and she was named second runner-up for Miss America. Her talent offering was a monologue describing how she cared for an Alzheimer patient and how it helped her realize how she was more than just a nurse. It is a talent clip that has been seen by millions at this point.

The women who host the daytime TV show, The View, disrespected Kelley and all nurses with their comments the day after. It sparked a social media firestorm for several days. Hashtags such as #NursesUnite were all over Twitter. Once advertisers pulled out of The View, the co-hosts apologized. Media outlets have covered this including Time Ideas and Huffington Post with posts describing what it means to be a nurse. Our own University of Michigan Health System video, “Day in the life of a nurse” was shared again widely on social media.

In support of nurses everywhere, I’m sharing “A salute to the nurses among us” post I published on May 12th during National Nurses Week. Continue reading

Back to the future

It’s back to school time! College bound students and their parents are having a lot of mixed feelings. There’s the excitement and anxiety of starting something new, maybe far from home. And for the parents, the goodbyes and the reality of being an empty nester may just be sinking in. Parents sense that they’ve done their job and now, it’s launch time.

There are questions college students hate to hear – “what are you planning to study?”; “what do you want to do when you graduate?”  They need to find their passion first. And who knows what kind of jobs will be there come graduation time.

Many of today’s jobs didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago. If you are on social media at all, you will see tons of job opportunities for just that – social media experts. But it’s just over a decade for two of the giants – Facebook and LinkedIn, and less than 10 years for Twitter.

And at the intersection of cars and technology, do you suppose the people working at Mcity thought 10 years ago that this is what they’d be doing? Continue reading

Investing in the success of others

What do @TheWomenRising, @digitaldivas3, and #HITchicks have in common? They are some of the Twitter handles and hashtags that young women professionals in technology are using on social media to encourage Women around CR tablemore women to go into the field. I recently did a fireside chat with Kate Catlin, the organizer of Women Rising, and about 30 young women in downtown Detroit. It was the first in a new UpRising series where they invite in “high-powered women in technology” they want to learn from.

The questions covered a broad range of concerns, and not just about working in technology. We were scheduled for an hour but could easily have continued for several more. I answered their questions with advice and lessons from my own experience.

Some of their questions:

How did you get started in technology?  Continue reading

A salute to the nurses among us

National Nurses Week officially ends today, May 12th on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. But of course you can thank a nurse and recognize him or her any day, any time. Many of us have personal stories of being cared for by a nurse with great skill and empathy.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. But my part-time high school and college jobs were actually as a nurse aide in nursing homes. I saw firsthand how nurses cared for the elderly and how hard their work was.

There are several nurses in my family whom I love dearly and respect greatly. I know I can call on them whenever I have a health question. I have to be careful to not abuse this access.  Every family who has a nurse or doctor amongst them knows how valuable they can be.

My sister, Mary Sheehan, is a nurse. She went on to get a master’s degree in public health. She ran just about every division in the Minnesota public health department during her long tenure with the state. Before retiring she served as a county health and human services director. Continue reading

Meet your future workforce

Future IT worker helps with the a/v during the morning presentation.

Yesterday the IT Department hosted 25 children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event is a great way to encourage both girls and boys to consider careers in health care and information technology.

I kicked things off at breakfast and talked with all the participating young people (ages 6-13) and their parents. I met many of the parents and children individually as they signed in and ate breakfast.  One parent said to her child that I was her boss’s, boss’s, boss.  I said they should think of me like the principal at their school – in charge of everyone in our IT department. I thought it would relate to them better than saying CIO. Continue reading

Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers

Last week I spoke with high school and college age women about the Journey to a Successful Career in Information Technology. I gave the keynote at an event jointly sponsored by the Student Resource and Women’s Center and Career Services at Washtenaw Community College. The event was part of their women in non-traditional careers series. It was fun to do – having a chance to encourage and inspire the next generation of information technology professionals.  And it was great to see some familiar faces in the audience – a number of women from our IT team decided to attend as well.

I started my talk by profiling real women in real IT jobs today – 8 women from our IT team.  Their positions include service desk, business analyst, programmer, database administrator, data architect, project manager, training manager, and infrastructure manager. I described what they do in a typical day and the skills they need in each position. One comment overheard after the talk: “This is exactly what these girls need – to see that women can and do work in IT.  Then they can picture themselves doing it, too.” Continue reading

So you didn’t get the job

Last week I wrote about how to stand out in the interview for a new job. I promised that I would write about what to do when you don’t get the job.  I’ve been there before and it’s not easy.

You think you’ve nailed the interview. You’ve met with lots of people. You like them and your potential new boss. You think it’s a great opportunity and you are excited about the prospects. You anxiously wait for “the call”. And then it comes. The hiring manager, HR person, or recruiter says “we’re going in another direction” – that common euphemism to say that someone else is getting the job.  They go on to say some nice things about you and that you interviewed well but all you hear is that you didn’t get the job.

Your friends and family are supportive. They may say “it wasn’t the right one anyway”. Or “something better will come along”. They tell you how to feel but what you want to say is what my youngest daughter would say to me – “you can’t tell me how to feel, you’re not inside my body!” Continue reading

Lead by example

How often have you heard that leaders have to “walk the talk”? But how often has a leader you admire disappointed you with either their comments or behavior? We ask ourselves “what were they thinking”?

Being a positive role model and leading by example is something I take very seriously – in both my professional and personal life.

I am deeply touched by the congratulatory notes and kind words I’ve received this week after it was announced that CHIME and HIMSS selected me to receive the John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year Award.

Awards like this don’t happen for CIOs without great teams.  I’m extremely grateful for all the talented and dedicated IT teams I’ve worked with over the years. Special thanks to my MCIT team at Michigan for the excellent work they do every day!

This award is named in honor of John E. Gall, Jr. who Continue reading

Technology, where are all the women?

I have been hesitant to talk about women’s issues here, but I’ve been encouraged to do so by many women colleagues. They tell me I have a platform, so use it!  Young women tell me that I, a female CIO, am a role model and that they want to learn from me.18Percent

I’ll be doing an opening dinner keynote talk soon at an invitation only health IT conference. I plan to talk about unlocking the potential of our future workforce. So, what does that mean? Among other steps, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology.

Here are some troubling statistics and trends: Continue reading