For Vice President of Enterprise Information Management at VMware, Theresa Kushner, staring fear of change straight on helps propel her and the community around her forward. Connect with Theresa, and learn a little bit more about how VMware’s VMwomen initiative is fostering conversations and behavior change around diversity within the technology community at the 2014 Grace Hopper Conference and beyond.
Role: Vice President, Enterprise Information Management
Office Location: Palo Alto, California
Years at VMware: 2
Twitter handle: @tkushner
What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
Sometimes the best inspiration is fear. I came to a career in technology reluctantly. Although my father owned a computer software company when I was in high school, I did everything I could to avoid computers and technology. After I graduated from college, I realized I couldn’t pay my credit card bill because of the low pay my chosen field provided. I discovered that computer firms in the technology industry paid better than any of the other industries and my skills were transferrable. My first technology job was at Texas Instruments in product marketing for consumer products. Since then, I’ve spent my entire career in the world of technology with IBM, Cisco Systems and now, VMware. The fear of not being able to pay off my credit card forced me to open a new door.
What exciting things are taking shape for VMware people because of the VMwomen initiative?
Launched as an enterprise-wide initiative in January 2014, the VMwomen initiative at VMware is taking actionable and measureable steps at all levels to increase the representation of women so that VMware leads our industry globally. We’re delivering programs to help propel these goals including:
- TALK, a monthly speakers series with internal and external guest speakers
- DIALOGUE, a pilot peer mentoring program designed to help women accelerate their professional development by working with senior advisers
- Unconscious Bias training, which provides a common framework and language to uncover unconscious biases that unfold in the workplace
These programs, supported by action plans up and down the organization, are helping to broker conversations and behavior change while providing an environment that openly supports diversity.
You are sitting on the Accountability and Metrics for Gender Diversity panel at the Grace Hopper Conference (#GHC14). Can you provide insight into the panel topic?
If we truly want to improve the representation of women in computing in all levels, then we need to focus on metrics first. Having metrics tells us first where we are starting from and helps us decide where we want to go. It’s just good business. Having metrics also makes it possible to hold people accountable. At VMware, our CEO Pat Gelsinger has insisted on metrics to set the stage and to guide us. He uses these metrics to help recognize where we need to concentrate our efforts and to understand which of our actions are helping. Pat holds his executive team accountable for progress – measurable progress. You can learn more about what we’re bring to life here at VMware and within the technology community on this topic at the Accountability and Metrics for Gender Diversity panel at #GHC14 on Thursday, October 9 from 10:15 – 11:15 am.
The 2014 theme for Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is Everywhere. Everyone. What about this theme makes you excited about #GHC14?
I get excited by engaging with the next generation of women technologists. They bring such different perspectives and I am constantly amazed at their intelligence and creativity. More than anything, I’m looking forward to these interactions.
Fill in the blank: Be inspired to be data driven!
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