We’re recognizing International Women’s Day (IWD) and the progress we’re making in increasing the number of women executives across our business It aligns with the IWD theme of Press for Progress as we continue to focus on increasing our diversity and strengthening our inclusive culture. We talked with some of our female leaders in our Business Transformation/Information Technology, EMEA business and Data Center Group and asked them to share their perspectives on what diversity means to them and how they’ve overcome challenges to get where they are today.

Phoebe T. Thermitus, Director, Storage & OEM Operations, Data Center Group



Q. What does diversity mean to you? Finish this sentence with the first word that comes to your mind. Diversity is….
A. Diversity is essential. Diversity brings different perspectives. Lenovo serves a diverse population of customers and partners. Our ability to embrace diversity enables us to better engage and provide stronger value in all that we do.
 
Q. Which female in your life would you like pay homage to for International Women’s Day?
A. My mother, Pearlie Hammonds. She is a strong, smart and powerful woman. She raised me to have strong faith and to never give up. Her wisdom in dealing with people and situations has taught me to value and respect others while staying true to who I am and the things I believe. Her leadership and inspiration embodies this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #PressforProgress, and is core to the woman she’s helped me to become.
 
Q. What hopes do you have for diversity in the future?
A. In the future, it is my desire that the world embraces diversity & equality, and that they become innate characteristics of who we are and what we value.
 
Q. How have you overcome/navigated challenges in your environment when you’re in the minority?
A. How do you advocate change and help champion diversity issues?
I have many mentors that have been instrumental in my career. These mentors have been formal and informal, ones who look like me and those who don’t, ones who think like me, and those who don’t. Having a strong support system has enabled me to learn, grow and challenge the norms. Recognizing the value in diversity, I try to engage and solicit involvement from others as well as being active in Lenovo’s Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) and the African American (AA) Forum Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Where appropriate, I also invite others to engage in ERG related events, even if they don’t fall within that demographic. While ERGs are vital to our company, embracing diversity and inclusion should be the responsibility of everyone in Lenovo.
 
Carol Minyi Chen, Executive Director, Corporate Functions, Workplace & Application Technical Services, Lenovo China


 
Q. What does diversity mean to you? Finish this sentence with the first word that comes to your mind. Diversity is….
A. Diversity means to me that every single people would be treated and respected equally in life or at work because of their attitude, capability, performance or potentials, but not because of their race, gender or any other specific condition.
 
Q. Which female in your life would you like pay homage to for International Women’s Day?
A. Florence Nightingale is the great person I would like to pay homage to for the International Women’s Day. Her strong will and whole life dedication for taking care of the poor people lighted the world with love. People can easily have some kind of Megali Idea, but the most difficult part is that people can insist in working for that idea for the whole life in spite of how difficult it would be. I have my highest respect for her.
 
Q. What advice would you give to other women on work/life balance?
A.
  • Learn to prioritize - make sure you spend your time for things that are important to you at different stages. You can’t handle things all at the same time and do well.
  • Good planning can help you use your time efficiently
  • Focus on quality in how you spend your time rather than quantity
  • No matter how busy you are, squeeze some time in a week for re-charging yourself. Only when you’re happy and energetic, you can help others.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from your boss or from your kids
 
Fiona O'Brien, Executive Director, EMEA Operations


Q. What does diversity mean to you? Finish this sentence with the first word that comes to your mind. Diversity is…
A. Embracing and valuing people from all walks of life – culture, gender, religion, age and background.
 
Q. Which female in your life would you like pay homage to for International Women’s Day?
A. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a group of strong women across four generations of my family, and we’re great cheerleaders for each other. It’s no surprise though that I would single out my mother as a particular source of inspiration – she instilled in me from the earliest age a love of learning, the importance of hard work and an ambition to succeed. She’s one of the most caring and capable people I know – nursing her mother and brother through long illnesses, raising three children and looking after seven grandchildren while my siblings and I work. Happy International Women’s Day Mum!
 
Q. What advice would you give to other women on work/life balance?
A. Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself. While it might look like everyone else can transition seamlessly from home to work, and present perfection to the world on social media, the reality is that no one has it together all of the time. We need to learn how to let go of things, and accept that “good is good enough”. Most people achieve balance by asking for help, and building a good support network through family and friends. I think it’s critical to prioritize your time – know what you want to achieve during the week both personally and professionally. Finally, it is ok to be selfish about your “me” time – everyone needs to recharge their batteries, so be it a run, a gym visit or just sitting with a good book, it’s important to carve out some time for yourself.

Q. How have you overcome/navigated challenges in your environment when you’re in the minority? How do you advocate change and help champion diversity issues?
A. Throughout my career, I have always cultivated relationships with a wide range of people, both inside and outside my organization, which has given me network of support and advice. Despite being in a male-dominated industry, I haven’t experienced many challenges as a woman in IT. There was a particular incident in my early career where I felt marginalized by a senior leader, but I had the courage to speak up and the support of my direct management team who helped me solve this issue. My return to work from maternity leave challenged me personally and professionally, but again, my extended network came to my aid for advice and intervention, averting a potential crisis. I have learnt that you need to speak out – even if its potentially scary. The majority of people want to help. I’ve been lucky to have been mentored by several successful individuals, and I actively participate in programs to support female leaders. I firmly believe women need to help each other grow and become successful. Confidence is the key to success. If you believe in yourself, other people will too.