NWCT IT Women Executive Annual Dinner
By Rodnetta Williams, NWCT Board Member
A few days before summer arrived, I had the pleasure of attending the Annual NWCT IT Women Executive Dinner at the historic restaurant, The Olde Bar, in Philadelphia, PA. The food and service at this incredible event was exceptional.
Among the guests sat formally invited guest speakers of the hour, Eloise Young and Lorraine Web. Currently, both remarkable speakers operate in executive positions with Philadelphia Gas Works. Eloise Young fulfills the position as Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Information Services and Lorraine Web fulfills the position as Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development. The riveting atmosphere spread throughout the room even before the event, as Ms. Young and Ms. Web took the time to interact with the early attendees. I was extended the invitation to indulge in a one-on-one session with the guest speakers to discuss one of the many topics of the hour, the challenges and victories for women in the IT industry. It was most compelling to hear them speak on their personal challenges.
As the event began and the food was served, the guest speakers took to the panel to enrich and incite this room full of intrigued women. Attendees became so engaged as the event progressed and the speakers shared testimonies from their fascinating and inspiring career journeys. After the panel session ended, attendees were still engaged in discussion as they shared their own stories and networked.
After such a phenomenal event, I was encouraged to reach out to Eloise Young to personally receive an expansion on the advice and material she provided during her stand on the panel, which I would like to share with you.
Me: Where did you grow up?
Eloise: I was born, raised and still reside in West Philly.
Me: How was it growing up in your home?
Eloise: I grew up in a very stable environment with lots of love and support. We lived in the same house throughout my childhood. My parents were married for over 50 years until my dad died a few years ago.
Me: What did your mother and father do for a living?
Eloise: Mom stayed at home when we were little. She got her Bachelor’s degree while I was in high school and started teaching English. My dad was a lawyer and a minister.
Me: How many siblings did you have?
Eloise: I have 3 sisters – 2 older and 1 younger.
Me: What sports or activities did you participate in as a child?
Eloise: I was a phenomenal double dutch jumper; also loved to read
Me: What was your first job?
Eloise: I worked in a record store.
Me: Why did you decide to go back to school?
Eloise: I wanted to make more money.
Me: How did you decide to begin a career in the information technology industry?
Eloise: I saw tech as a way to significantly increase my income and have fun.
Me: How was it going to school and working full time?
Eloise: I loved it once my body got over the shock of night work.
Me: Once you received your degree, how were you able move to the next level in your organization?
Eloise: There was a director position – I applied for it!
Me: How would you describe yourself as a leader?
Me: What were some of the challenges you faced as a leader in information technology?
Eloise: Recruiting and retaining tech talent has been very challenging – PGW is municipally owned; it is very tough to compete with the private sector.
Me: What advice would you give women who are starting their career as a leader in information technology?
Eloise: Grow your network – get to know technology leaders at other companies
Advancing in your Career:
Me: What advice would you give to someone who is at the beginning of his or her career in information technology?
Eloise: Work hard and be prepared to spend a lot of time perfecting your craft. Do not try to take shortcuts.
Me: How were you able to advance your career while remaining in the same organization?
Eloise: Working hard and building a solid reputation.
Me: For a person having many years of experience but does not have the particular skills the business needs at the time. What career advice would you give them?
Eloise: Either fined a way to get the skills you are lacking that your company needs or find another job with a company that needs what you are bringing to the table.
Me: Why do you think some people have trouble advancing to the position they desire?
Eloise: I think there are many reasons – some within the person’s control and some not. Just keep trying – do not be discouraged.
Rodnetta Williams is an NWCT Board member representing and leading the new NWCT Delaware branch. She is a Business System Analyst Sr. at CSC/Independence Blue Cross. Rodnetta has worked in the field of Health Insurance for over 20 years. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management with a minor in Management Information systems. Rodnetta has worked as a Business Analyst in several areas of business such as Member Eligibility and Verification, Care Management, Informatics, Reporting, Finance Provider/Credentialing. She has extensive background in the Medicare and Medicaid Insurance industry. In addition to working as a Business Analyst, she has worked as a Project Leader/Manager learning the Project Management & Business Analyst Lifecycle. Rodnetta resides in Delaware with her husband, two lovely daughters and gorgeous grandson.