My notes from the talk Robin Elliot, CIO at Foxtel gave at a Girl Geek Dinner.
CIO of Foxtel for over 11 years. On a mission to encourage women to step up and apply for technical leadership roles.
A leadership role is in your grasp and something you might find rewarding. Students don’t have a concept of what an IT career might be about, aren’t taking courses.
The tech industry changes rapidly, and it takes leadership to shape that direction.
On Her Career Path
- Started as a programmer. Got first job programming COBOL.
- Moved to being a team lead, about being good at what you do – and reviewing other people’s code.
- Worked at company that became Accenture. Got to take on a lot of different sort of projects.
- Said yes to a lot of different opportunities. Worked really well.
- Was a project manager, but became more interested in the business side. Getting into position to question the why.
- Started an MBA to study strategy side more. Helps connect with business stake holders.
On Working in the Tech Industry
- Some people come unstuck because they are wedded to a particular technology, Need to be willing to learn and adapt, change and grow.
- If want tech career that lasts the distance, need to stay current. Women are adaptable and resilient.
- Stay curious and open, if offered opportunity to retrain, take it.
- Started doing strategy work – what is the business trying to do? How are we going about it?
- Believe in yourself as a leader and that your opinion matters.
- Observation, if walking into a room with an important (tech) discussion chairs at table, around the outside – the women sit at the edge. Have to sit at the table (this comes up in Lean In too – Amazon).
- Your opinion matters as much as anyone else’s. Sit at the table. Don’t take a “passenger” chair. Part of engaging, part of believing you have the right to be there.
- Don’t underestimate the smaller, symbolic, things.
- Women are good at being prepared.
- Believe that you have a right to, and that you are ready to be a leader.
On Being a Leader
- Had job to stop two shareholders fighting for long enough to get some technology up.
- Was sure data warehouse would be the most important thing.
- Leadership is having an opinion.
- What could you do that could actually make a difference?
- Find with women, wait too long for someone to give permission.
- Forget the reasons, ask “what’s stopping me?”
- Forget the reasons, ask what the next action would be.
- Don’t underestimate the value of caring about something.
- Lack of people who can see the bigger picture, and say they will try and get that to happen.
- Work it out for yourself, back your judgement, and make it happen.
- Belief that working hard and doing job well enough, someone will notice – it doesn’t happen like that.
- Apply for jobs, even if you don’t have every skill on the list.
- Notice that everyone is always “headhunted’? Not true – people apply for jobs, and they go out and get them.
- Leadership jobs are stressful, demanding, but are very rewarding.
- CIO is the last (or first) person responsible for technology in the company.
- If it goes wrong, on her head. If it goes right… no-one notices. That’s technology!
- Didn’t know how to do it, but found partners, learned.
- Job as CIO is to find and build partnerships.
- Think seriously about leadership
- Leadership needed all over in community, health education.
- Technology changes fast, effects people, and how people live and work.
- Have an opinion. Make sure that voice is heard.