2019 INI Graduation Speaker: Roseanne Silva

2019 INI Graduation Speaker: Roseanne Silva

October 12, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


There’s an excitement in the air, from our high fives laughing downstairs to all the smiles in the room. The entire INI community is so very proud of you today! When I think about my time at INI, memories
of pride, accomplishment and camaraderie come flooding back. It was a time of deep personal
growth and transformation. Here I forged a connection to an amazingly diverse
and inclusive community that I turn to now for support and advice. As I look out into the audience today, I see
the next generation of diverse & tech savvy leaders. For the next leg of your journey, I would like to
share three brief lessons I’ve learned throughout mine. First: Nurture a Network of Mentors Early in my career, I had a “fun” idea: stay late at work on a Friday night, and experiment with an old mainframe system. I wanted to connect it to a new data
analytics platform that we had developed. I thought: what could go wrong? Well, I made a configuration error and it took the entire system offline. No one could access it externally throughout the weekend and, come Monday, all development would come to a screeching halt. I was panicked
Furious at myself, and kind of terrified about the enormity of my mistake. Like many of life’s biggest challenges,
this was not on that I could solve on my own. Luckily for me, I had Shelly, she was a former INI advisor
on my capstone project. Now, she was a friend… a friend who would take my panicked call late on a Friday night. FIRST, she talked me off the ledge… THEN, she helped me fix the configuration
and, with a reboot of the system, we were able to bring everything back online. Having someone to call made ALL the difference. But it’s not just about collecting expertise,
it’s also about giving back. When Shelly started her business, she reached out to me. and I shared some of my expertise with her to help her with her early projects. Someday, you will encounter (or create) a
problem that you’re not able to solve by yourself. Building a network of mentors means having
someone who will take that panicked call late on a Friday night. Nurturing that network of mentors means taking that call for someone else. It so simple, but it’s incredibly
important. My second lesson is: Always Be Coachable. You graduate with technical skills above your peers. But here’s a secret: those skills not enough. You are not done learning. You are never done learning. Instead of teachers, you’ll now learn from
coaches. Sometimes these coaches hide in plain sight…they can be your managers, your peers, or even your team. Here’s an example from my first management job: Dave hired me as the technical manager of a large team and, to my great relief, the first task was addressing the same problem I’d solved in my prior position. I charged ahead and fixed it, and marched into Dave’s office eager to show his decision to hire
me was the right one. Dave was not as impressed as I had hoped. When I told him I solved the problem on my own, he was disappointed that my team had not been engaged in developing the solution. “Building skills with my team,” Dave said,
“was as important as solving the problem.” I was taken aback. I had not thought to include my team and share my knowledge. I didn’t even realize that it was an expectation. I wasn’t sure I liked the idea. But for every subsequent problem I involved my team, and shifted from showing off my knowledge to building theirs. This was a turning point in my career. I focused more on my team, and they continuously improved… delivering results beyond anything that I could have done alone. Then, when Dave left our team later that year, he recommended me to replace him. And he taught me that technical skills are
only part of the success equation. You must be open to new approaches, accept coaching, and build exceptional teams as well. So, listen for the Daves in your environment and ask yourselves: Are you working with people who challenge you, Are you open to their honest feedback and different
perspectives… Even when it’s difficult to accept? My third lesson is to include intentionally As a woman in tech, I’m almost always outnumbered by men. In the early days, I was just one of the few
at the table. It’s getting better; I’m not the only
woman anymore, but I’m still part of a pretty small club. Fortunately, it’s a small club that’s
actively recruiting new members! Part of getting more women in tech is starting earlier in the pipeline. That’s why I love the National Center for
Women & Information Technology . NCWIT is a nonprofit focused on increasing women’s
meaningful participation in computing, starting as early as kindergarten! PNC attended the NCWIT summit several years ago, intent on launching an expanded diversity approach. We soaked up research-based strategies to improve our pipeline of women holding meaningful roles. We also met Brian, our liaison, who offered to review our plan of action. The hallmark of our plan was the creation
of “Tech Connect: a resource group for women.” It focused on attracting, retaining, and promoting women in technology. Brian thought the idea sounded great – except for one thing. He asked, “Does your resource group need to be FOR women in tech? Would you consider changing your mission to be ABOUT women in tech?” He pointed out that, by making the group FOR women, we excluded men. Studies show that companies who include men as allies achieve over a 90% success rate. Companies that exclude men only reach 30%. This was an “A-HA” moment for me. After fighting for a seat at the table for
my entire career and advocating for diverse voices, I myself was creating a group that
excluded the diversity I valued so much. It’s an easy mistake to make, if you’re not
intentional about including intentionally. Here at the INI, you have an inclusive culture
that celebrates diversity and values perspectives from all individuals. Your class alone is over 30% women and represents 8 nationalities. In addition to the deep, technical knowledge, you have also been given the skills to include intentionally. So graduates… I congratulate you. And challenge you to apply the lessons I’ve shared with you here today. Through INI, you have access to some of
the greatest minds in the technology field. I challenge you to nurture that network of mentors. Your learning does not stop today. It has only just begun. Embrace coachable moments and you will grow to be a better person, a better leader and enable yourself to realize your fullest potential. Develop technologies that include the entire population. I challenge you to be inclusive
in the software that you develop, in the inventions you patent, the teams you lead, and the communities that you serve. Finally, I challenge you to pay it forward
in actions big and small. Acknowledge those who helped you along the way by contributing your time, talent, and treasure to others. I choose to invest in INI and the advancementof underrepresented groups with in technology. But that’s my passion. I challenge you to consider the legacy you
want to leave in this world. and to act on it. INI Class of 2019, it has been an honor and a privilege to share this day with you. As we say at INI, “May your heart always
be in the Network”. Thank you.