DXCs Kristie Grinnell on succees in a male-dominated industry

DXC's Kristie Grinnell on succees in a male-dominated industry

 August 31, 2022

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DXC Technology (DXC) Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO), Kristie Grinnell, is a successful leader who challenges stereotypes about women in tech.

She is responsible for leading business transformation including defining IT strategy for new digital capabilities, streamlining current operations and improving overall efficiencies and performance of DXC’s IT environment - all with the goal of enabling DXC to provide excellence and innovation to its customers worldwide. With a career in professional IT leadership spanning 20 years, Kristie has led four major IT transformations while overseeing changes to enterprise-wide technology, cyber and risk management, culture, skills and behaviors.

As part of an interview series published in Authority Magazine, Kristie was interviewed by fellow women leader Ming Zhao who is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host and the Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare.

In the conversation Kristie shares five aspects helping women thrive and succeed in a male-dominated industry.

Finding her career path growing up

Kristie begins with her backstory, and how her childhood and initial career steps put her on the path to leadership success. Her dad instilled in her an early confidence that "anything was possible". She recalls a plaque in her home that that summarizes this approach: 'Raise your daughters to be a doctor, not to marry one'.

When she secured her first job straight from college, the role of CIO didn't exist. Yet, working at General Motors as a manufacturing engineer helped her understand that she liked working with people "more than being behind a screen designing machines".

"That led me back to business school and eventually to a role at PWC while the e-biz bubble was starting to grow. From there, jobs came and went, my family blossomed, and I eventually transitioned into internal IT, and now into my CIO role here at DXC Technology," she adds.

Standing up for herself and women in STEM

This confidence in herself and her career path has helped Kristie stand up for women in STEM. She shares an anecdote about her first job interview, when the hiring manager asked if Kristie wanted to marry and have children.

"While I found the question to be odd, I answered yes because of course a family was in my future. The manager then asked me why he should hire me instead of another candidate, a male, who wouldn’t have the distractions of kids and a family. I walked out of that interview," explains Kristie.

"I immediately called my dad in a panic that I just made the biggest mistake possible. My dad however was the voice of reason and told me how proud he was that I stood up for myself. That was a very important day in my life. The fact that I am always being compared to males and that day in particular are two reasons why I do so much for women in STEM and everyday my kids and family come first. I truly live to work and not work to live."

Key traits of a successful leader 

DXC women in tech

Kristie describes key traits that make a successful business leader like herself. The first, confidence "to have a voice as a woman in a male dominated industry," she says. "For example, when I earned my role at General Dynamics, it was very male-dominated. I was the only female, and I was younger and smaller in stature than any of the other executives. You must be able to bring confidence to the table."

Secondly, that values matter. Kristie always tries to lead with kindness, respect, and integrity, and she wants people to call me her on it if she is not living up to these values.

Finally, Kristie emphasizes the importance of always recognizing that you are not the smartest one in the room and to always be willing and wanting to learn. "To add to that, always ask why. If everyone saw things the same way, we would never innovate. Diverse perspectives and insights matter and help us come together," she says.

Overcoming obstacles in a male-dominated industry

Despite Kristie's career success, she has overcome a fair few obstacles in a male-dominated industry, including the ability to be heard. She needed to make sure her voice mattered, for example, when she speaks up in a meeting, she is careful when she does so and what she says.

"I want my words to come across with power and emphasis so people will listen. I have always been mindful of when I speak up," she says.

In her career, Kristie has also had to overcome making choices as a family. 

"As much as I like to say it is the same for a man, it is not always. As a working mom, you have to make really hard choices to stay in the workforce when you have young kids. I want to do be involved in all of my kid’s activities and be a really engaged mom while still being a working mom. Those were difficult choices to balance but I know I did the right things," she adds.

Attracting a more female workforce

In terms of recruiting more women to a company, Kristie says the solution is "simple". Companies should stop being male-orientated. 

"Organizations should want to bring the best talent to the table. On top of that, organizations need to support the women that are in the room. The number of women in IT in the United States is starting to decline a bit so we need to work to reverse that trend and bring forward the best people for the job regardless of gender or identity. Benefits matter, flexible scheduling matters, remote work options matter too," explains Kristie.

"I have seen a change wherein companies are starting to bring in more women in the C-suite and on boards. However, that it still not enough. It is coming, I just don’t think it has been fast enough."

How to succeed in a male-dominated industry

Finally, Kristie shares the five things women need to thrive and succeed in a male-dominated industry: confidence; training; a good team; a good moral compass and values system; and a diverse perspective around you.

"In the end, this is not male vs. female. This is all about driving change in an organization," she says. 

Join talented technology leaders like Kristie at DXC

DXC Technology is a company where brilliant people embrace change and seize opportunities to advance their careers and amplify customer success.

Want to work for an employer that's committed to creating progressive workplaces across the industry?

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