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FCW : January 2015
January 2015 FCW.COM 17 I was working with the French [Alternative Energies and] Atomic Energy Commission. We were trying to sell nuclear technology to [the Department of Energy] for solidification of nuclear waste. And this gentleman came in and was talking to my boss, and said, “Hey, why don’t you have your girl go Xerox this for me?” To his credit, [my boss] turned and he said, “First of all, she’s not my girl. And secondarily, she’s the person who’s going to decide today whether I buy your technology or not.” Martin: I found it very, very difficult. My biggest challenge was at Homeland Security when I was CIO for immigration. I would go home crying on a regular basis. Just sitting in the CIO Council and we were so new then...I was discounted. It was the most challenging thing. It took me a long time to understand that it wasn’t about me, that it was about the concept of me bringing the idea to the table. I started actually using other members of the CIO Council to make the case for [my ideas]. Carlson: Young women [often say to me], “When I’m at the table nobody listens to me. I had an idea and no one was interested.” My first question is, “What did you do to prepare for your meeting?” It takes time to learn that the meeting doesn’t start at the table. To be really effective, you have to identify the key stakeholders and sell your idea before the meeting starts. Along the way, you’ve got to make sure that you listen to their feedback and keep building on your idea. Once you’ve done that, you may have a meeting to present your idea, but that’s not the end. You need to continue to build your idea over time, keeping an open dialog with the stakeholders. Developing an idea is a process that takes time, energy and ambition, not just one meeting. Ho: It’s rooted in a lot of these culture influences. For example, women in general are not comfortable with self-promotion. That’s because we were taught as little girls, “Oh, don’t brag,” or things like that. But I think if you’re not good at promoting yourself, you’re not going to be good at promoting your organization. Wynn: I played sports, and that was back when women weren’t permitted to play sports. But to all the guys in my neighborhood, I was just somebody else to pick. That is part of what shapes you. I think every time you face a time when you’re alone, you’re the only female in the room, the THE PEOPLE IN OUR DEPARTMENT SAY, “WE DON’T DELIVER IT. WE DELIVER HOMELAND SECURITY.” BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE CENTER ON EVERY DAY. Margie Graves, Department of Homeland Security 0115fcw_014-021.indd 17 1/7/15 3:12 PM
November and December 2014