“I remember the first time I saw a computer; I was 12. I didn’t know what those things did, but they were really interesting.“
For Catherine Ballantyne, Senior Director of TAMs in APJ, that moment started an adventure of a lifetime in tech. She remembers when, in her first job, she was asked to track cross country runners in New Zealand using technology. She said, “Yep I can do that, even though I had no idea how.” Not knowing how to do things has never stopped Catherine. As a self-taught coder, she has always loved using computers to solve problems.
Life kept her busy and several years later she found herself teaching computer science and mathematics in London when she realized that she wanted another challenge. So, she followed her heart and took a jump into the tech field with a position at Oracle. “Sometimes, opportunity pops up in all sorts of places. If an opportunity appears, jump on it. I’m an adventurous soul and energized when I get to work with customers.”
While working at Oracle for seven years, Catherine was able to travel the entire APJ region. “It was one of the first times where I realized that the world was different than what I had believed it to be. I was able to travel and learn about different cultures. It was an education, it was fantastic!” Even though there were moments of frustration, like having to reformat her computer in each country she visited – she had the exciting opportunity to be on the cusp of globalization.
Catherine’s career has taken her all over the world; she has had the ability to see technology grow and change. Picking up new and vital skills along the way, all while asking herself, “what can technology do for business to help them move forward?”
Catherine started a new adventure when she joined VMware in 2020 to lead the team of Technical Account Managers (TAM) in the APJ geography. Getting up every day is exciting for her, “we are a team in transformation. We get to ponder questions like – what does customer success look like now?”
VMware TAMs are uniquely positioned to answer that question and to enable our customers to choose the technology that they want to adapt. “We get to teach the world why is it important and then we have the responsibility that once it’s been bought, that the promises are fulfilled. We have the potential to solve problems for many people.” And her team is doing just that. She has the pleasure of working with a variety of different people and is seeing this fulfilled every day.
Passion and adventure have been the keys to Catherine’s success, not only in her career, but in her personal life as well. She is an avid mountain biker and all-around athlete. “Sometimes the best things are a little bit scary”, she recalls, as she thinks back to her adventure in Africa.
Catherine and her partner joined a team of expert mountain bikers to ride up Kilimanjaro and then travel onto Lake Natron to raise money for agriculture development in Tanzania. While biking up the mountain she remembers thinking we must be crazy to take this on. But super tough challenges have never stopped Catherine before – she thrives on them. Over the next three days they raced their bikes across the African plains, seeing zebras, giraffes, hyenas, and elephants all in their natural habitat.
No matter where her life has taken her, through Africa for truly wild adventures or her customers reach their goals, Catherine’s advice for herself and those around her stays the same. “Be brave. As women, sometimes we don’t trust our own capabilities as much as we should. Trust that your skills are there and valuable.”
She admits that that the reality is that we need more women in the tech world. Just as her path to technology wasn’t the most traditional, she doesn’t want that to stop other women from entering either. “The skills you have cultivated in whatever career you were in before, take some time to discover how those skills translate into the tech environment. Find people who can help you with that translation.”
Catherine’s advice to like-minded women with passion and drive: “find a place to get started and just jump in. Tech needs all sorts of skills, not just technical skills. It doesn’t matter where you come from, there is a place in a tech company where you can land and be effective.” And there’s always great women like Catherine, in VMware’s Customer Experience and Success, who will help you when you get there.