by Susan Eustis
IBM’s Innovate Conference had a panel of highly accomplished women executives in IT moderated by Connie Moore, Forrester Research. The talk was about personal leadership mindset when taking business risks. The panelists were:
- Gina Poole, Vice President, IBM Rational Software
- Cheryl Allison, Director, Raytheon Network Centric Systems
- Ellen Daley, Managing Director, Forrester Research
- Meg Selfe, Vice President, IBM Rational Software
- Karla Wallace, Senior Manager, General Motors
Gina Poole was eloquent in talking with the gathered women as was Ellen Daley. It was a trusting group, seeking to encourage those women gathered to feel safe in their work environments to express themselves and create a work presence with which they are comfortable. Advice flowed freely, creating an atmosphere of equality and support.
We were urged to seek a mentor and to have fun in our work. We were reminded that men are trained as little boys to be competitive; women need to work to achieve the same sense of competitiveness. This writer notes the innate differences between little boys and little girls, men and women. Though raised competitively playing football and baseball and rough and tumble, this writer still notes significant difference between the sexes.
In any case the meeting had a lively discussion about the difference between being raised to play with dolls and to communicate or to go out and compete at a game. We were encouraged by the speakers to create teams of people in our work, attract people who are intelligent and able to work in a team environment. We were encouraged to tell jokes and create laughter in the workplace. Gina Poole talked about some of the web site projects that had been successful for her, taking a risk to develop them and investing her own time to make them work. She talked about recruiting others to help with the project in their spare time, and how she worked to make the projects grow.
The women were generally full of stories about themselves- One woman had gone swimming with two other people out to the middle of a lake and then those people swam away from her, “leaving me to drown” as she said. She had the presence of mind to turn back toward shore and not panic. She floated on her back, swimming and resting until she got back safely, explained to those fascinated listeners that she was more careful after that how she chose her swimming companions.
Forrester’s Ellen Daley was an entertaining panelist talking about failure and how you need to admit failure and just go forward from there. This was an impressive group of women execs in IT creating a team amongst ourselves nurtured by the shelter provided by the IBM Rational Software General Manager Dr Kristof Kloeckner whom we all thank.