|Rhonda Vetere is the Chief Technology Officer at The Estée Lauder Companies. In this role since 2013, she is responsible for the Company’s global technology, insourcing and outsourcing infrastructure, strategy, mobility, enterprise architecture and security. During her career, she has led 17 successful global mergers, and her ability to consistently deliver results has earned her 6 industry nominations for implementations of global data centers.
As a results-oriented, client-focused executive, Rhonda drives value by delivering technology that improves cost and customer satisfaction. Prior to joining The Estée Lauder Companies, Rhonda served as SVP for Global Infrastructure at AIG and was the Global Head of Enterprise Service Management for HP. She was also a Managing Director for Global Infrastructure and Global Production Services at Lehman Brothers/Barclays, where she executed a global plan to migrate non-strategic sites that brought significant savings to the firm.
Rhonda is active in many global organizations, including the Society for Women’s Health Research and Women in Technology and won the Industry Award for “Top Women in Technology/Cloud.” She is an author of a “Dummies” book about Enterprise Service Management and has spoken at various global conferences and several colleges including Smith Tuck/Dartmouth, George Mason University, Wharton and Ohio State University. She currently serves on the Dean’s Council and Advisory Board at George Mason University and Longwood University, where she helps to shape the education curriculum. She has also been executive sponsor for Diversity at Barclays, and actively participated in speaking engagements at HP, AIG and within the financial sector.
She has a degree in Business and Communications from George Mason University and in her downtime, Rhonda enjoys swimming, running, scuba diving and golf along with time with friends and family. She lives outside of New York City with her husband in Greenwich, CT.
In this day and age, the key to smart STEM investments is to build a pipeline of STEM advocates, develop a career path framework for it and show a return on investment.
In order to foster STEM education, we must encourage leaders to take equal interest in promoting it by investing dollars, resources and time to provide mentorships and guidance to students of all ages, and to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative way of thinking. In the US, continuing to be at the top of global innovation requires that we develop robust education programs across all elementary, junior high, high school and college curriculums to “seed feed” the industry’s career needs. In addition, the top Fortune 500 companies should set aside two percent of their budget on innovation. If we intend to use private or public partnerships to help tackle these challenges, I think it would benefit from a holistic approach with all sectors involved – and not just one area.
There should be a clear career path framework tied to a college curriculum. The way we teach technology topics today does not support a clear academic future or career path. Encouraging students to continue their study of STEM subjects is essential to generating genuine excitement within – and outside of – the classroom for today’s generation. Providing mentorships, especially to encourage women and minorities to embrace STEM development, is also necessary. Equally as important is leveraging CIOs and CTOs in a cross-functional STEM that promotes an industry “community.”
It takes understanding and commitment, two key traits, for leaders today to advance STEM education. I try to lead by example and incorporate these traits into my professional as well as personal life as I serve on Dean’s Councils to help colleges map out a curriculum for STEM in BA and Master’s Degrees.
I believe wholeheartedly in mentorships, both inside and outside the workplace. I was mentored early on in my career and continue to have mentors. In order to strengthen the STEM pipeline, we must leverage these mentorships and my recommendation is the creation of a CIO advisory board across the industry that is anchored into “STEM Connector,” so we can all network across different industries. It is critical that we learn from each other.
The STEM initiative that The Estée Lauder Companies has supported that makes me most proud is their sponsorship of the woman’s prize for the “Dream it. Code it. Win it” contest. This is a contest put together by TradingScreen Inc. and The MIT Enterprise Forum of New York. The student coding competition rewards and promotes creativity, diversity and literacy in the field of computer science. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t get asked – “how did you get into this field as a woman?” I believe the future success of STEM will depend on tripling the pipeline of students and engaging women and young millennials. These two groups should find several mentors across different industries and leverage the academic system to forge connections. We don’t want young talent to be steered away from STEM because it doesn’t appear slick. By engaging the diverse communities that currently make up some of the top CIO/CTO roles, we will help to promote of the future of STEM careers.
Currently The Estée Lauder Companies has a dedicated team focused on the topic of STEM and how best to engage our colleagues.