TotalCIO

Oct 1 2008   4:20PM GMT

Women as CIOs and branding in the workplace

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

My colleague Linda Tucci’s story this past week on how women in IT should brand themselves (and, by the way, most of the advice applies to our male readers, too) really struck a chord with me. As I embarked into the working world several years ago, a friend bought me a copy of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, and I took many of its tips to heart – among them, that I probably shouldn’t decorate my cube like my living room, let people waste my time because I feel bad interrupting or apologize for having a strong opinion. I’ve had varying success sticking to these tenets over time, especially when some of them conflict with my natural tendencies.

But I’m a journalist, not a CIO, and I recognize that female CIOs trying to make headway in a business that has traditionally been dominated by male managers is probably a much tougher proposition than I’ve faced.

Atefeh Riazi, CIO at New York-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc., touched on these points in her presentation at last week’s EmTech 2008 conference at MIT. She noted that she now says, “I believe,” rather than “I feel” after a boss admonished her for it. She doesn’t communicate when she’s upset because she is “perceived the wrong way.” And she’s learned not to apologize for being bold, wearing red lipstick or requesting more money or staff.

Already, we’ve received feedback from readers who saw some of their own experiences in Riazi’s talk. I’d love to get a dialogue going on that. If you’re a female IT manager, have you faced the sort of challenges in the workplace that Riazi discusses and, if so, what are your strategies for overcoming them?

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