Women Leading Tech: Teradata’s Nominees Talk Gender Parity & Rising Through The Ranks

Women Leading Tech: Teradata’s Nominees Talk Gender Parity & Rising Through The Ranks

Corrine Murphy, VP managing director, Leanne Rolfe, global enablement senior director, and Neringa Hojrup, senior director, global CX, retention strategy, are three of Teradata’s remarkable women and are all nominees for awards at the Women Leading Tech Awards, Presented by Atlassian.

With more than 40 years of combined experience at Teradata, the trio have seen the company evolve and grow over time into a leading light for women in the tech industry. From mentorship programs to talent pipelines, they have insights into the initiatives that can help more women lead tech.

How did you all come to work at Teradata?

Corrine Murphy: I’ve been here for just over a year, but I started my career in nursing. I had a friend that worked at IBM and they had a fancy phone and pager and I thought that was cool! I took a year off nursing and started as a PA. I never returned to Nursing, instead having enjoyed a long career in Systems Integrators, Software Companies around the world, and was thrilled to be approached about the role at Teradata.

Leanne Rolfe: I have been with Teradata since 1996, starting as a consultant and then moving into a project management position. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to transfer internationally with Teradata a few times & I’ve spent most of my career either in the US or South East Asia in consulting, sales, management, and leadership positions.

I remember before I was offered the position, the hiring manager was concerned with me being the only female on his team. But with my tech background, I’m used to being the only female on a team. And I was excited by the opportunity of enrolling in Teradata’s (or NCR’s it was then) renowned Project Management program.

Neringa Hojrup: My journey to Teradata began during my studies when I started working as an interpreter for local and international consulting firms in Lithuania, Denmark, and Australia. Following that work, I spent a number of years in research and consulting, taking on various projects both overseas and in Australia. The experience was both exciting and challenging as it allowed me to develop my communication skills and broaden my horizons by interacting with people from different cultures.

Then I joined Tyco International in Australia where I led the sales field operations team. Seeking new challenges I joined Teradata Australia to build and lead the regional project management practice within the Customer Services organisation and so my journey at Teradata started. It has been an exciting journey of personal and professional growth, that led me to today and the honour to participate in the WLT event. I am very proud to be part of the Teradata team that is dedicated to delivering excellence and innovation.

What was it like transitioning from nursing to a tech environment?

CM: It’s two different worlds, each with their own language. Tech has the most acronyms on the planet and I was used to nursing language, so I was fluent in medicine but not tech. I would sit in meetings and think, ‘I understood ‘and’ and ‘the’ and ‘could you.’ The rest of it I would have to piece together. I wasn’t IT literate at the time, either — I didn’t even know how to turn the computer and applications on!

Nursing was a different kind of pressure, it was life and death, IT is more about enabling our customers’ business outcomes and solving challenges to deliver more, and keep up with the fast-moving IT industry.

When I joined it was a pretty male-dominated industry with very traditional practices which did not see many women in leadership. I didn’t face much of a problem at the time, maybe because I went into a role seen as a woman’s role, as a PA. As I’ve gone into leadership roles, that’s when men’s attitudes change because you’re in a position where you can influence them. With a background working with a lot of males in medicine, this did not perturb me.

What changes have you seen compared to previous roles that have made you feel empowered at Teradata?

CM: Teradata has a very strong point of view on, and an objective to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Our executive leadership team is 50 per cent female.

LR: Early in my career at Teradata I was often the only woman, or one of few in a meeting, or on a project. This has of course definitely changed! It’s a very different Teradata now compared to those early days. There is now a conscious effort to hire women at all levels within the organisation – “bottom up and top down”.

There have been many other initiatives as well, for example, reviewing job descriptions, so they are more inclusive and attract women to roles that were traditionally male-dominated, like our sales engineers. What is empowering about all of this is that you can confidently apply for different roles in the company.

Why do you think Teradata has that culture so front-of-mind?

CM: It’s front of mind because there has been so much research completed which shows that a diverse team will always outperform a homogenous team every time. Teradata and our customers want to reflect the communities we live and work in.

LR: Teradata recognizes that a diverse workforce is great for our people and good for business too. It positively impacts our ability to attract new talent and drive innovation. And our leaders are really embracing this. As Corrine mentioned earlier, we already have a diverse executive leadership team and plans to mirror this across all areas of the business.

What has changed for you while working at Teradata for women in the company?

LR: We have a dedicated diversity and inclusion team with a global focus and an active Women of Teradata Chapter focusing on training and development programs for women across the region. This has been a big driver for change. We also have formal mentoring and sponsorship programs to develop networks, skills and confidence helping women take the next steps in their careers Another positive change is the flexibility of work locations with options to work from the office, hybrid or from home depending on your personal needs and preferences.

CM: It has also become more of the norm now, whether you’re hiring for an early-stage career level position or senior and executive levels. Having a diverse group of applicants, whether age, cultural or gender diversity backgrounds, has changed from a desired outcome to an expectation.

NH: Over the past three years, Teradata has been on a journey of cultural transformation with a focus on diversity and inclusion. It’s been a significant effort, sponsored and supported by our ELT and leaders across the regions we operate in.

Diversity and inclusion have become top priorities in our action-planning and goal-setting. To guide our efforts, we established the DEI Advisory Board in September 2020. The Advisory Board’s recommendations have led us to set company-wide representation goals with a five-year vision, which we plan to publish this year.

The Board is currently working on a global DEI Framework that builds upon work that has already been done in closing the representation gap. We have made progress in Australia too, with the appointment of our first-ever ANZ female VP.

Our efforts in this area have been rewarding, but we know there is more work to be done. With continued support and collaboration we are confident that we can make meaningful change and create a workplace that is diverse, inclusive and supportive of all.

There is sometimes a perception that men might be threatened by the active championing of women at work. Has this been present at Teradata?

CM: Maybe, in Teradata, we have amazing allies. We held a women’s breakfast at some ridiculous hour in the morning recently in Canada and it was a full room of both women and allies. The whole ELT and the next layers down were there, as well as lots of men just sitting on tables with women. It was fantastic.

We need men championing women. Women have become really good at championing women. But it can be so very powerful when a man calls out another man for doing something that is not right. That’s something that definitely needs continued focus and growth. In previous roles, men were threatened and they did not know how to cope, this I find is changing, thankfully.

What initiatives does Teradata have in place to champion women within the company?

LR: As mentioned previously, we have a global sponsorship programme for women. At the local level, our leaders are mentoring and sponsoring women across all areas of the organisation. We also kicked off a mentoring programme, separate from the sponsorship programme, We built this for APJ but it will soon roll out globally with tools matching women with mentors across the organisation depending on their interests.

We also offer training and webinars through our Women of Teradata Communities. Last year, we piloted an external training program about confidence in women. We’re focused on supporting, nurturing and developing awareness. It’s not just about growing the number of women in the workforce, it’s also about retention.

NH: Teradata is fortunate to have the unwavering support of our ELT and regional EVPs in promoting diversity and inclusion. Our mentorship, sponsorship, visibility, and development programmes are designed to foster growth and advancement. We have well-established inclusion communities that empower women to participate, lead and develop and our Allyship Summit events encourage individuals to share experiences and learn from each other. These initiatives are integral to creating an inclusive culture, and we are committed to investing in them. We understand that building a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is a continuous journey, but we believe that with teamwork and dedication, we can make significant strides towards our goals.

What would you like to see change within the industry to help women feel more empowered and able to affect change?

CM: We need pay equity — we have not moved the needle enough. Yes, we’re making some progress but it would take another 130 years to get where we need to be if we don’t do something differently. There need to be targets in place and zero tolerance for disparity.

STEM programs in schools and universities are important. Men, as well as women, need to take accountability for the problem together.

LR: More needs to be done to educate and inspire the next generation of girls, with more mentors at the school level. The gender pay gap needs to be resolved and more women are needed at senior levels to inspire those coming up through the ranks.

There is also a great opportunity to support and encourage women re-entering the workforce to consider professions in the tech Industry, as well as supported internships and mentorship programmes to help women join and remain in the industry.

NH: A change of mindset and a desire to change and invest in our young generation is needed.

The challenges we face are multi-dimensional and not easily overcome. It’s also important that we do not see the challenges through the lens of gender diversity alone, we also need to see a change in the overall understanding of our societies and workforce representation gaps.

Businesses should try to form strong partnerships with organisations and local communities to drive development programs and initiatives that attract, develop, and retain diverse talent. We need to see more partnerships between businesses and schools and universities to start building a pipeline of diverse talent and bring them into organisations through internship and graduate programs.

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