Compassion, Warmth, Encouragement — Inspired by All Who Choose To Challenge

  • March 05, 2021
NTT DATA Mona Charif IWD 2021 Blog Post

Can you feel it? International Women’s Day (IWD) is almost here! Like the excitement I feel when the first blooms of spring tell me winter is almost over, I feel energized by the impending arrival of March 8 – the official annual date for International Women’s Day. In fact, “Bloom: The Power of Diversity” is NTT DATA’s global theme for IWD activities around the world. We are marking the occasion with a weeklong celebration, and our agenda is more ambitious than ever!

My colleagues around the world will celebrate inspiring female role models in alignment with the global IWD theme, “Choose to Challenge.” We kicked off our festivities yesterday with a virtual global event. Teammates around the world tuned into a Zoomcast with our featured guest speaker, Deborah Norton, who previously was CIO and Sr. VP of IT and Operations for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) and now is senior advisor to the combined organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care-integration team. I have been blessed with knowing Deborah for several years, and if you want something done with maximum quality and efficiency, Deborah is the right woman for the job. In fact, she was named CIO of the Year by the Boston Business Journal in 2015, among loads of other awards throughout her career.

In her remarks yesterday, Deborah shared advice on becoming a business leader: “You need to know your people, the business and the challenges. You do that by taking on risk and opportunities so you can grow and have a broader perspective on the business.”

To take the next step and become an effective business leader, Deborah said: “It really helps to know your people personally. Do you know their family? Do you know their children’s names? I’m not talking about crossing lines and being an interloper in their family experience, but when people come to work, they don’t just bring their professional self. They bring their whole person. If you don’t understand that, it’s harder to build team spirit.”

Our CEO, Bob Pryor, joined the event and shared an insight based on his experience working at different companies during his career. “I learned to look for a cultural fit – is this a place where I can be authentic? You can only pretend to be something else for so long, and that’s why we’re working so hard to create an environment where people can be themselves, so they can be their best.” He went on to say how Deborah’s leadership style accomplishes this through candor and deep caring.

For more role models, just look at our upcoming lineup of IWD bloggers from NTT DATA and their subjects:

  Margo Cooke writing about our virtual event Challenge Accepted: Uncommon Drive on March 12 – open to the public and celebrating women in the male-dominant sports industry
  Kiran Ballal sharing about India’s first and only female prime minister, Indira Gandhi
  Ellen Daley discussing NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson
  Michelle Sangiuliano writing about Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate
  Eddie Woods discussing the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize – Wangari Maathai
  Amy Oster sharing her thoughts on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  Terri Hatcher with comments on entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker and the multi-faceted Annie Tumbo

You can keep up with the series on the NTT DATA Perspectives blog page.

Throughout my life, I’ve benefitted from role models who inspired me to challenge bias and always keep moving forward. As a young immigrant from the Middle East to the U.S., I had to search for definitions of the racial epithets directed at me and my family. I’ve experienced microaggressions and inequality up close and personally. And there were many who actively tried to make me feel unwelcome. So, I am grateful to the women and men, of many races and nationalities, who both welcomed and encouraged me in my life and career.

I am proud of how NTT DATA “chooses to challenge” the status quo through our commitments, actions and zero tolerance for hate and racism. And today, I am thrilled that my chosen country has challenged the status quo by electing our first female vice president, Kamala Harris. Inauguration Day 2021 was deeply satisfying, even as the global gender gap remains painfully obstinate. I choose to challenge and I stand for empowering and encouraging people.

As mentioned above, we’ll close our IWD week with a public webcast — Challenge Accepted: Uncommon Drive. The 45-minute discussion brings together three special guests who are making diverse marks in the male-dominant sports industry:

  Nicole Briscoe, ESPN SportsCenter anchor and sports reporter
  Sara PriceExtreme E Series racecar driver
  Danielle Shepherd, Simulation Engineer Chip Ganassi Racing INDYCAR team

Find out more and register for the webinar.

I hope you’ll participate with us through our blog and virtual event, and come away charged up to continue challenging the status quo while creating a welcoming environment where all people can be the very best version of themselves.

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Mona Charif

Mona Charif is chief marketing officer for NTT DATA Services. She leads marketing, communications, and corporate social responsibility, and is executive sponsor of the Women Inspire NTT DATA (WIN) employee resource group. Mona has more than 20 years of success in supporting brand awareness and growth objectives of Fortune 100 companies including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lucent Technologies and EDS. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas-Dallas and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas-Austin.

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