By Leevegar Kim. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is crucial to recognize the invaluable contributions of women leaders and their unique approaches to shaping our world through their work. It is no small feat that women rise to the top of their respective fields despite the historical underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. In this piece, Molly Greek provides college students working in Information Technology (IT) this spring critical advice on careers in IT. She shares her views on job satisfaction and the decisions that leaders and their employees can make to ensure that every member of the team finds meaning in their work.
According to a 2021 report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women make up only 28% of the workforce in the IT industry in the United States. This underrepresentation is more pronounced in leadership positions, where women hold only 18% of chief information officer (CIO) positions and only 21% of other executive/senior-level IT positions.
Molly Greek, an Information Technology (IT) leader with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and an early career at Hewlett Packard, EDFUND and Franklin Templeton Mutual Funds, has defied these odds. She is currently chief information officer (CIO) of the UC Office of the President. In a recent meeting with the new UC IT marketing and communications interns, she shared her invaluable insights for individuals who are contemplating a career in the technology industry. Despite the certainty that technology has an excellent future as a career, Greek stresses the significance of carefully weighing several factors before committing to the profession.
IT as a career: combining stability, expertise and passion
Greek was thinking about her future as early as middle school. “I’m pretty sure I was the only person in middle school thinking about social security funding and how to secure a financial future,” she says. “I was also thinking that the only jobs left when I became an adult would be IT and healthcare.” Greek chose an elective in middle school to try Basic coding. At the time, the students were bussed to Radio Shack for the class. She decided that she did not really like the programming class and was not sure that IT was for her.
After completing her bachelor of science (BS) degree at the University of California (UC) Davis, Greek started working in Data Processing (the early days of IT) at Franklin Templeton and realized that what she really liked was problem solving using technology.
Initially, Greek opted to pursue a career in IT to support herself financially, driven by the need to pay off student loans, her car loan and rent. However, she soon realized that career success was about more than just making money, you also need to care about the organization’s mission, the people and your work responsibilities. She started to set higher goals and aimed for taking on roles where she could learn more and have an impact.
Greek advises college students like ourselves, who may be considering a career in IT, to think carefully about what is meaningful to them. She suggests that it is essential to consider evaluating organizations from a mission perspective and to look at how they support their employees’ lives and careers. She noted that a significant portion of a CIOs time involves people and budget. In addition, CIOs have the opportunity to affect culture and transform the business to become more digital.
From the employee’s standpoint, Greek stresses that a career in IT requires continuous learning and being open to new experiences. She recommends that those in the field should strive to work in different areas to develop a multi-faceted career. The trend is to have skills that have more breadth rather than depth in a single area.
When asked about whether it is safer to pursue a career path that is considered more stable such as one in the field of technology or to follow one’s passion, if that falls outside IT, Greek suggests that there are several factors to consider. While a career path in IT provides an opportunity for many employment choices it is also important to ensure that you are enjoying what you doing. You may find that, by supporting an organization that you believe in, or by building strong relationships with the people you work with, that a career can become a passion. Alternatively, it may be that your passion area becomes a hobby that is supported by your career.
When Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are a core team value
Diversity and inclusion are core values in ITS and at the UC, it is critical to ensure that diversity is included in an organization’s strategic plans. It is important that diversity and inclusion projects should not be assigned to employees as volunteer work. Instead, those who take on significant efforts should have this be treated as work responsibilities and acknowledged in their performance review. Additionally, this commitment should be integrated into all employees’ expectations. This includes the time and space they need to participate in diversity and inclusion initiatives, without fear of having this interfere with their primary job responsibilities.
Greek’s insights into pursuing a career in IT are valuable to those considering a path in the field. As I set out in my career, I will treasure her advice to contemplate what is meaningful in my work: (1) to learn continuously and be open to new experiences; (2) as I grow into leadership roles, to consider employee health and well-being as important as their productivity; and (3) be thinking about finding the balance between financial stability and following my passion. I am grateful for the opportunities to meet leaders like Greek in the course of my work. The internship program, as a member of the UC Office of the President IT Marketing and Communications team, provides me with hands-on experience in both the IT and Marketing industries, as well as the opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals like Greek and other members of the UC tech community. I am honored to be gaining valuable skills and perspectives to prepare me for my future career.
About Information Technology Services (ITS) at the UC Office of the President
The Information Technology Services (ITS) Department at the UC Office of the President has about 250 employees, growing by nearly 20% with 40 new people joining the organization in 2022. Van Williams is CIO for University of California, and Molly Greek is CIO for the UC Office of the President. The ITS department is the nexus of more than 9,000 professionals across the university. The UC Office of the President ITS team provides system wide support, managing about 200 IT applications, many of which operate system wide. Their work also includes managing the Cyber Risk Coordination Center, the UC IT blog, a leadership training program, as well as supporting the UC Tech conference annually. The ITS team is a fundamental part of the research, education, health care and public service that happens at the university each day, and many of the team attended a UC as well, and are proud to serve their colleagues across the system.
About Molly Greek
Molly Greek is the CIO for University of California, Office of the President and leads Technology Delivery Services (TDS). TDS is primarily responsible for the 200+ applications and systemwide services which include UCPath (HR and Payroll for the entire UC) and applyUC (undergraduate admissions for UC). Greek formerly worked at UC Davis Health, Hewlett Packard, and EDFUND (student loan guarantor). Greek was also a lecturer at California State University (CSU), Sacramento for six years and at UC Davis extension. Greek has an MBA from Golden Gate University and a Bachelor of Science from UC Davis. Greek’s areas of professional interest are promoting diversity and inclusion, the UC mission and cloud technology.
About the Author:
UC Information Technology Marketing & Communications Intern
Undergraduate Student at UC Berkeley