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Women executives at Oracle share offer important advice

Women executives at Oracle share offer important advice

Katty Coulson, Vice President of Information Technology for Oracle NetSuite, shares her reflections in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and her experience as a Latina in technology.

"It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, but I found myself inspired by the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off on September 15. While I often think about my journey, this month in particular always makes me take a step back. And suffice to say, 2020 has been a year for even further reflection," she says.

Katty found herself thinking about a day in September 2006. She parked her car, walked into the office building, and was escorted to get her picture taken for her new job, nervous and excited for her first day at a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley. It was only three years earlier that she arrived in California from Mexico as a newlywed, and after a couple of jobs she obtained a three month contract to start a program in the Advanced Services Organization at Cisco Systems. "You might be wondering why this day and why this event. It’s because it was the first day of a ritual that would define much of my career," she adds.

Marking progress in her leadership career

Three months at Cisco became six, then nine, and then 12. Six weeks after welcoming her second son, she returned and made that same trek from the parking lot to the office building and started the process to become a regular employee. It was that night that her husband Allan urged me to realize that she had a decision to make: she could accept and take a job, or she could accept and start a career. "This philosophy has shaped my mindset and approach to owning my career from that moment forward," Katty explains. Flash forward to October 2019 when Katty, again, parked her car, walked into the office building, and was escorted to get her picture taken. This was her first day as Vice President of IT for Oracle NetSuite.

"It is humbling as years pass, skills develop, yet those same nervous and excited feelings can consume you," she says. "This ritual has become a symbol in my career. A reminder to me, that no matter the company, the role, or the year; there are similarities and lessons to take with you from job to job."

Sharing advice as a Latina in tech

For Katty, this feels like a perfect time to share what she has learned, especially as a Latina in tech:

  1.  Family support is immeasurable: 
    Allan has been my number one supporter. Our culture can lean heavily on very defined expectations and roles that males and females should play, at least in my personal experience. While not everyone in the family was on board with me working after I had my children, my husband never questioned my decision! He continues to encourage me to keep going, whether to take on more opportunities or to get over my mother’s guilt.
  2. Two words to live by - Confidence and Courage: 
    I remember receiving feedback during one review about my lack of confidence and presence during meetings. Luckily, this leader paired this feedback with registering me for executive communications training. Skills can be learned, and with enough hard work and confidence, we can achieve higher levels of proficiency. In time, I was able to improve and now I host, present, and lead at meetings, keynotes, and conferences with audiences that range from just a couple of people to thousands of attendees.
  3. Always be a student and dedicate time to your own learning: Continuous education is critical and I make it a priority; from pursuing my post-graduate degree at Harvard Business School to earning other certifications—I try to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I know I will never know everything, and getting continuous education as a working parent is not easy, but it is worth it.
  4. Align with leaders who understand diversity and promote inclusion: 
    This has been especially important to me being a female in a male-dominated industry. Everyone knows leadership starts at the top so it was imperative for me to have a leader who understood who I am versus what I did. There have been times where my peers have lacked empathy, but knowing that my manager understood me as a person and not just as an employee was priceless. I’m brought back to a moment when I was heavily pregnant with my third child and stressing out about leaving for maternity leave. Sensing my nervousness my VP asked me: Do you know why you are here? My reply was: I am here to work. He said: No, you are here, because you have talent: Go and have your baby, we will be here waiting for you when you are ready. When you have leaders who recognize life circumstances, welcome diversity, and make a strategic effort to equalize the playing field, you AND your team members will be successful.
  5. Create and foster a network of like-minded friends and role models: 
    Employee resource groups, Hispanic organizations, and Women in leadership associations have provided a tremendous amount of support, connections, role models, and a sense of community. In many cases, those friends are family. Seeing people who look like me, who talk like me, and have similar experiences offers me inspiration and strength. At Cisco I had the opportunity to lead Conexion globally for a few years, volunteered with Women Leaders in IT, and here at Oracle I am proud to co-lead the Oracle Latinos Alliance chapter headquarters and volunteer to help in various programs.

Looking to the future

So, what’s next for Katty?

As she continues working hard on her career, it’s clear to her that giving back and paying it forward are responsibilities of each individual in the workforce. She would not be here if it wasn’t for people who believe, support, and invest in her.

"As a Latina in tech I see how few of us are in our field, whether women or LatinX, and even more so in strategic leadership positions. It matters when leaders recognize our talent, offer support, and take the time to listen and actively remove roadblocks so others can progress," she adds. "In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I invite you to give back and pay it forward! Donate one hour of your time and help a Latino group, mentor or coach a LatinX employee, or look for ways to increase inclusion and opportunities in our workplace and communities."

Oracle has many employee resource groups

At Oracle, employees thrive on diversity. One of the many ways Oracle nurtures this fundamental value is through its Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which connect the diverse and inclusive communities that make up who Oracle is as a company.

The Oracle Professional Asian Leadership (OPAL) group focuses on developing Asian employees and their leadership potential by increasing access to professional development, raising cultural awareness, and mentoring knowledge. During Asian American & Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, OPAL hosted a range of activities to celebrate their leaders and share inspiring stories across the community. Here is the best advice OPAL members have shared as part of these activities.

Win Chang is Director of Oracle's Cloud Customer Experience

  • “Be your own best advocate,” says Win Chang.

As part of Oracle for nearly 30 years, Win Chang often dreamed of creating an organization focused on the Pan Asian community. In 2015, she made it a reality by creating the OPAL ERG to inspire unity and leadership through professional development, mentorship, and cultural awareness.

Today, OPAL has 22 communities with over 3,600+ members, so it may come as no surprise that Win’s best advice for others is to be your own best advocate.

“As a Chinese woman, I often thought that if I continued to work hard, my boss would automatically know how hard I worked,” she says. “Later, I learned the art of sharing my success through storytelling. When providing updates to my manager, I would weave specific details of my contributions into my team’s success story. This is a great way to be self-sponsoring, without appearing self-promoting.”

Sarah Chu is Oracle's Program Solutions Manager for Manufacturing & Distribution

  • “Share your heritage and support for others,” says Sarah Chu.

OPAL Communications Lead Sarah Chu, who is proudly half Filipino and half Chinese, has always sought opportunities that can help her learn more about other individuals’ cultures, as well as her own. “Being part of OPAL has been rewarding and gives me a platform to share pieces of my heritage with my colleagues,” she says. Bringing her dad’s dumplings and her auntie’s lumpia to the recent Lunar New Year Celebration allowed her to share a piece of heritage with her colleagues, and enjoy theirs.

While she values the cultural learning opportunities OPAL provides, its leadership practices, such as panels and mentorship programs, have also supported her personal development and growth.

“I’ve been at Oracle for nearly seven years and I’ve found camaraderie and a mentor network through OPAL,” she explains. “For anyone who’s looking to feel more connected with their campus or peers, I recommend joining an ERG. It opens up valuable learning and professional opportunities. For individuals who feel comfortable in their career, it also provides an opportunity to mentor individuals who are looking to follow a similar career path.”

Bo English-Wiczling is Oracle's Director of Program Management, Developer Tools & Integration

Oracle women

  • “Don’t be afraid to speak up,” says Bo English-Wiczling.

Bo English-Wiczling is a Korean-American. She’s from the first generation in her family to go to college—and “the first female in my entire family (immediate and extended) to have a job or career,” she adds.

She knew early on that she wanted to have a career in technology, so she learned to code on her family’s first computer and started her career as a web developer in the mid-90s. Now the Director of Program Management, Developer Tools and Integration, Bo offers some words of wisdom to achieve your career goals.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up; let your opinions and success be known,” she says. “I know some folks feel very uncomfortable talking about their own success, but we must. We need to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and not be afraid to toot our own horn. If we don’t, who will? If there’s something that you feel very passionate about, speak up and share your opinion. If you don’t, that perspective may never be considered, when it could’ve been a great idea.”

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