Name: Pam Maynard
Role: CEO of Avanade
Context: Having joined the IT industry out of university as a coder, Maynard has risen through the ranks and in 2019 became the CEO of US-headquartered Avanade - a Microsoft partner with 39,000 staff and revenues of over $2bn. She recently told CRN about her first year in charge of the company.
How did you get into the IT sector and what led you to occupy your current role?
Well I can tell you that it wasn't a straight path to CEO! I'm often asked if I have a five-year career plan and I don't - I really never have to be honest.
When I was growing up, I was intent on pursuing a career in law. As the first in the family to attend university, I opted instead to pursue a business degree because it gave me a choice of career paths. That choice led me to an internship at IBM, which introduced me to the world of tech. It inspired me to pursue a career that combined business and technology - which I've found to be the best of both worlds.
My first job right out of university was with Oracle, and it was there that I fell in love with technology and delivering solutions to clients. I progressed from coder to designer to analyst to project program management. From there, I worked in numerous consultancies until I joined Avanade in 2008, serving as general manager of Avanade UK, then President of Avanade Europe, Africa and Latin America until 2017. In 2017, I was appointed President of Product and Innovation, focused on defining and delivering innovative solutions for our clients and was appointed CEO in September 2019.
What is your career highlight so far?
I'd have to say the past 18+ months as CEO of Avanade has been the highlight of my career journey.
It's been a trial by fire in many ways that no one could have ever predicted and while there have been many challenges, it's also been hugely rewarding. The pandemic forced us to think differently, not only with how we work with our clients but how we collaborate, engage, communicate and so much more. And the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired us to have honest conversations about what we need to do as an organisation to continue to grow and evolve our culture of inclusion and diversity.
I'm also proud of the work we've done to formalise our company's purpose, which is to make a genuine human impact. I think as a technology company it's easy to get lost in what innovation can do for our clients and their customers. We can make their business processes faster, more effective and accurate. And we can help them digitally transform their organisations in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.
But our purpose is bigger than that. It's what inspires all of us to look beyond the technology to the actual human impact of the work we do. I'm particularly proud of how our team has responded to clarifying our purpose. Not only are they more vocal and proud of the work that we do, they've also changed the types of conversations that they are having with our clients - shifting from being purely focused on the technology part of it, to thinking about the broader impact on our clients, their customers and their employees.
What are the key business benefits of having a diverse workforce?
It's been my experience that you really can't innovate without diverse perspectives - and you can't be a place for diverse perspectives if you don't have an inclusive culture.
I think we all know the business case for inclusive and diversity is clear: it's no surprise to me that companies with high racial diversity report 15 times more revenue and sales than companies that aren't.
But it's about much more than the business case - it's the right thing to do and it's critical to Avanade's ability to thrive as a leading digital innovator and to our future growth. We cannot support our clients, their employees and their customers without diverse perspectives at the table. And we can't hire the top talent in the industry unless we're fiercely dedicated to creating a workplace and culture where everyone feels safe and valued for who they are.
What's your top tip for tech providers that are serious about tackling their gender or diversity deficit?
Inclusion and diversity is not meant to be a department in the corner of your company doing isolated work. It needs to be embedded into your business strategy, impacting every decision you make and be felt at every level of your organisation.
And while it may seem daunting to drive real change, my advice is for companies to start by asking: ‘What more could I be doing to create an environment where everyone can do their best work and where everyone truly feels valued, welcomed and heard?'
Asking that question opens yourself up to look for ways you as a colleague, manager, mentor can create a more inclusive and diverse workplace. It's not enough to simply say "We won't tolerate discrimination or racism." Stakeholders want to know what concrete steps, metrics and KPIs that are in place.
There is much work to be done and we, as companies and individuals, have a responsibility to be the leaders for positive change.
What's your advice to women and girls thinking about a career in the channel?
I've had the privilege of having many great mentors, but my mum gave me a piece of advice that I've taken with me throughout my entire career: Walk through the door.
I would never have achieved the successes in my career if I had not walked through the doors that were opened for me, and by me time and time again. Yes, it can be daunting and downright scary, but think about how you are holding yourself and your teams back if you don't take hold of the opportunities that present themselves. Focusing on my teams and stakeholder relationships gave me the strength and confidence to take on many new opportunities.
Today, as you would expect as CEO, my role is more and more about opening doors and creating opportunity for others, which is so fulfilling.
Do you think the IT industry's gender diversity deficit—and diversity deficit more widely—warrants highlighting?
The short answer is yes!
As long as I can remember, the technology industry has struggled to attract more women into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. And while I'd like to believe that our collective efforts have helped to increase the percentage of women, particularly in leadership roles, a recent study—led by Accenture and Girls who Code—concludes the gender gap for women in technology as a whole is actually worse today than it was in 1984.
It's clear we have a lot more work to do not only to attract- but keep- talented female professionals. And we have much more to do if are to go beyond the gender gap and make the industry more diverse across-the-board.
Today's world is more complex than ever and the challenges we face today require the thinking of people with diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences so the technology industry must commit to doing more. We should always be asking ourselves: ‘What more could I be doing to create an environment where everyone can do their best work and where everyone truly feels valued, welcomed and heard?'
I think measurable and eaningful action is essential if we want to make progress, but asking that question opens all of us up to look for ways as a colleague, mentor or leader to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
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