Sheila Jordan is senior vice president and chief information officer at Symantec. She is responsible for driving Symantec’s information technology strategy and operations ensuring that the company has the right talent, stays ahead of technology trends and maximizes the value of technology investments. Her goal is to drive increased productivity, better efficiency and strategic business partnerships through simple and intuitive experiences for Symantec’s global workforce. Sheila’s scope of responsibility also includes oversight of the company’s Global Security Office, encompassing data security and management, and physical security and safety.
Since joining Symantec in February 2014, Sheila has set the vision for Symantec IT, developed an experienced leadership team, and is leading the effort to insource IT operations from an outside vendor by building Symantec’s next generation secure data center in the company’s virtual private cloud. She is also responsible for splitting IT operations when Symantec separates its security and information management businesses by January 2016.
Prior to joining Symantec, Sheila served as senior vice president of Communication and Collaboration IT at Cisco Systems. During her nine-year tenure at Cisco, Sheila’s IT organization was recognized by the industry with awards presented by CITE, InformationWeek and CIO Magazine. Earlier in her career she worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she was senior vice president of Destination Disney.
Sheila serves on the Board of Directors for NextSpace, a Santa Cruz, CA-based firm that provides innovative physical and virtual infrastructure for entrepreneurs, freelancers and creative professionals.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology.
Much has been written about how to develop a strong pipeline of leaders, particularly with respect to opening doors for women and minorities – this ensures a diverse leadership team and workforce. This is an important topic, but while most companies are striving to improve diversity in their ranks, I like to stress that we also want and need diverse thinking.
My advice for employees who are starting to climb the executive ladder is to make sure you have a voice. Use that voice on a variety of important topics – a perspective on your company’s strategy, projects you are currently managing – and push the envelope beyond the status quo. Look at how your own work can be innovative and allow your company to differentiate. When you do this you will, in turn, differentiate yourself.
Leaders are looking for that diverse perspective and for employees that offer thought leadership. Understand your business strategy to the degree that you can really add value. Speak up, speak often, get loud and be focused. Don’t just “do your job.” Be engaged. Tackle an assignment with a new approach. And don’t be afraid that your idea isn’t a good one. Your thinking can spark others’ ideas – and this might result in a brilliant new concept! Companies value diverse thinking even if you don’t get it right every time.
Let me give you an example of how the airline industry took a new approach. For the most part, airlines don’t have good reputations. The flying experience has been degraded over time, and most people dread flying as a result. But consider how all of the new airline apps have improved the experience: you can view your upcoming flight’s status, boarding position and gate information; access and save your mobile boarding pass to your device; book or cancel rental car reservations; check flight status and set-up text notifications; check-in to an existing reservation; enroll in and access your frequent flyer account; and view travel and weather alerts. This ability makes you feel like you have a relationship with your airline. It feels personalized. This is the kind of innovation that is needed in every industry.
And that’s where STEM careers come into play. Technology is playing a bigger role in every company today, more than ever before. I met recently with the CEO of a major airline and he told me he wasn’t running an airline – rather, his business is “a technology company with wings.” Every company has a way of using technology that they haven’t thought of before. So really use that STEM background – it is a tremendous asset for succeeding in business.
Here’s another advantage of STEM careers. Change in business is constant, it is dynamic, and change is not changing. It’s happening at a faster pace especially in STEM areas. The more we embrace that change, the more we can be the drivers of change.
These practices have served me well in my own career – and have enabled me to develop, improve, refine and advance!
Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ: SYMC) is one of the world’s largest software companies with more than 18,500 employees in more than 50 countries. We provide security, storage and systems management solutions to help our customers – from consumers and small businesses to the largest global organizations – secure and manage their information-driven world against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently than any other company. Our company’s unique focus is to eliminate risks to information, technology and processes independent of the device, platform, interaction or location. In fiscal 2014, it recorded revenues of $6.7 billion. Symantec also believes corporate responsibility and creating a positive societal impact are core to our business success. Just as we are consistently pushing the boundaries in engineering to develop the most innovative and advanced technologies, we continuously invest in our employees, strive to reduce our environmental impact, and support philanthropic projects around the globe.