Sherry Covell - Harris Corporation
Vice President, Intel Programs
Sherry is responsible for client satisfaction, service delivery, and growth for IT services across the intelligence community. Covell joined Harris in 1995 and most recently served as vice president of Talent Management, responsible for corporate-wide recruiting, leadership and organizational development, and organizational effectiveness. Previous roles at Harris included VP of Business Development for national programs in the Government Communications Systems division, director of Business Development in the proprietary business, and director of Programs for the wireless products group. Prior to joining Harris, Covell held technical, engineering and analyst positions developing and integrating communications systems in support of U.S. government customers, and was a senior staff member with both the MITRE Corporation and Johns Hopkins University.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Senior leaders must recognize the importance of promoting STEM across all facets of their life, both personally and professionally. As advocates for STEM, senior leaders must be comfortable with speaking to the challenges and rewards of an education and career in these fields. They must encourage students and young career professionals to seek out careers in STEM and discuss the importance of STEM to our nation. Senior leaders must be open and honest about the effort it takes to be successful while stressing the fulfillment that can be obtained when working on new technologies. Additionally, senior leaders must be proactive advocates of STEM and use their positional power to promote STEM at every opportunity that comes along.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
I believe the best way to assure that there are more women leaders in STEM is to provide as much STEM exposure as possible to female students in middle school and high school. It is especially important to provide information, workshops, and career counseling to females who may be unaware of the opportunities that a STEM education can open up for them. Conducting information sessions and workshops, led by successful women leaders, provides a forum for the young females to ask questions and learn more about all of the possibilities that can result from a STEM education and career path.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
As one of only a handful of female graduates in a STEM curriculum in the early 1980s, I truly respected and admired Sally Ride for all that she has done to promote women in technical fields. She was not only an accomplished physicist and the first woman in space, but someone who truly exemplified professionalism, character, and extreme dedication to her profession. Sally Ride recognized the opportunity to use her “Celebrity Status” and started her own company to create educational programs and products known as Sally Ride Science to help inspire girls and young women to pursue their interests in science and math. Throughout her career, she has always been an inspiration to young women who aspire to a career in a STEM field.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
To motivate and inspire our nation's youth to study math and science and position them for successful careers in technical fields, Harris has established, supported and participated in many educational and mentoring programs. Many of our employees, including executives, work with local schools and youth programs that Harris supports as mentors and tutors to help promote our platform of education. Our Women in Engineering employee resource group and K-12 Outreach program provide volunteers to teach interactive technology workshops and speak about STEM careers. Our company also helped create the Bayside High School Engineering and Technology Academy (BETA) in Brevard County, Florida, which provides rich and rigorous curriculums that prepare students for college and technical careers. At the university level, Harris supports universities by creating world-class learning environments, providing scholarships and endowments, supporting student organizations, sponsoring special events, and encouraging employee participation on advisory boards.