Transformation Consulting Customer Success

A Woman’s World: VMware Spotlight on Gina Chaney

For an example of an organically grown, lengthy, and successful career working in technology, look no further than Gina Chaney. Gina is currently Director of Transformation Consulting at VMware and previously worked for over 23 years at Citi and 8 years in the airline industry.

She spends much of her time helping customers optimize complex systems, processes, roles, and technology ecosystems so they can maximize the value of their investments and increase efficiencies.

Her natural optimism and ability to build rapport coupled with her drive for excellence have guided Gina towards roles that have advanced her knowledge, provided unique opportunities, and furthered her career.

The importance of sponsorship

Armed with a degree in computer science, Gina started her career as a software developer for American Airlines. “I went from software development into program project management, liked it, and found that it was kind of a natural thing. The important piece of this story is that a manager—not my direct manager at the time—recognized my talent and had the ability to put me into a visible role.”

Gina is an example of how executing responsibilities at a high level can naturally lead to gaining career sponsors. A potential sponsor “’will recognize your performance because it not only serves you but the entire organization’. A sponsor will attach themselves to you and your work.”

To get a career sponsor, it’s important to build meaningful relationships with colleagues and leaders in your organization and to build a reputation for excellent work. A strong network can help you get noticed and be top of mind when new opportunities arise.

In Gina’s case, her work stood out and when the Chief Information Officer left the airline industry for Citi, she was one of only six people offered a role to move to the new company with him.

Sponsorship from different people is an important thread in Gina’s career, leading to better roles and exposure over time.

Open to change and new experiences

“About eight years into my career, I managed people for the first time,” says Gina. “I got into all kinds of different technologies. I managed a desktop application which at the time was also called a client/server, and there was also a mainframe involved. It was a 3-tier architecture which was new at the time.”

It was through this experience that another sponsor guided Gina into a role at the next level managing a Project Management Office (PMO). She earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification when it was new (and has kept it up to date since the early 2000s), and she was part of an ambassador project that brought together leaders from all the PMOs at Citi.

The exposure of this project led to another opportunity: she was recommended for a role in which she was responsible for setting the company-wide standards, methods, tools, and capabilities for all the PMOs.

Once again, Gina’s ability to demonstrate value consistently got her tapped by the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to manage a multi-year, billion-dollar project to retire and consolidate systems Citi had accumulated through acquisition over the years. It involved retiring or rewriting old systems, adopting consistent data standards, and architecting all technology to meet regulatory requirements.

“I moved from program manager of that initiative to working directly for the CTO, managing his PMO, Requirements, Testing, and Regulatory Functions. I became a Managing Director. That’s how I got to the top: several sponsors who recognized my ability and put me in visible positions.”

When a top executive left Citi for VMware, Gina was once again asked to consider a new role. She’s been at VMware for over three years and counting.

Gina’s career path highlights how rewards, job security, and opportunities happen when strong performance and contributions intersect with new experiences and the willingness to learn new skills.

Building leadership

Leadership doesn’t come without its lessons, and a big one for Gina was learning how much and when to communicate. “My personality is to be very open—very trusting. But I’ve had to learn what and how much to communicate over the years; that not everybody’s going to have your back, and that’s a hard lesson to learn.”

Learning to temper the right level of transparency and communication while being emotionally intelligent is key to being a good leader. In addition, openness to counsel is also beneficial.

“Being a relatively new person to the leadership team, it helps me to ask about other leaders’ experiences. They know that I will leverage their advice in what I’m doing and that’s key to establishing trusting relationships with your peers.”

On being a mentor

Having a positive impact on others is a deep part of Gina’s career fulfillment. “I’m happy to be mentoring several folks here at VMware, including the people who are on my team,” she says.

Increased job satisfaction and enhanced reputation and visibility are linked to the experience of mentoring others. It can broaden your perspective to provide guidance, support, and feedback to help develop others’ skills and help them achieve their goals.

Mentoring not only contributes to the success of individuals, but it also contributes to the success of your organization. Helping to develop strengths and leadership in others can lead to more qualified candidates for succession planning.

Work hard, play hard

The philosophy to “work hard and play hard” is built around the idea that people should balance their professional and personal lives. Entering college at 16, Gina started building her foundation of balancing work and family at a very young age.

In Gina’s case, she’s enjoying the flexibility VMware provides for time off to spend with her family—especially her granddaughter. She loves to play golf and to be able to focus on family in the moments that matter while continuing to tackle the responsibilities of her evolving role.

Making time for activities and recreation you enjoy such as hobbies, socializing, sports, or travel is important to reduce stress and maintain good personal relationships. Doing this will help you give your best effort for productivity, discipline, and diligence throughout your career.

Gina recently took on the leadership of a new function in addition to her responsibilities as Director of Transformation Consulting. “This is great. What I do right now—I feel very fulfilled. I’m happy to be contributing and working hard.”

Want to learn more?

The VMware Transformation Consulting team produces the “Operations Pain Points Solved” blog series, which highlights common issues faced by organizations everywhere. Read the blogs in this series to learn about establishing a target operating model, optimizing the customer experience, transformation planning, managing people, and more.


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