Spend more than a few minutes speaking with a tech industry veteran about accomplished leaders – men or women – and it’s likely you’re going to hear Cindy Reese’s name mentioned. As Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Oracle, Cindy is a dynamic leader with more than 25 years of experience. Among her many accomplishments, after joining Oracle from Sun in 2010 Cindy led a significant and ambitious transformation project in high tech, completely revamping Sun’s supply chain resulting in millions of dollars of savings by reducing freight costs, excess inventories and other inefficiencies. This type of leadership, business acumen and foresight has helped Cindy become one of the most respected female leaders in technology.
To conclude our celebration of Women in Tech throughout the month of March, Cindy graciously agreed to share with us her perspective on leadership and working in the high tech industry.
At what point in your life did you decide that a career in the technology industry was the right path for you?
I was lucky enough to be accepted into a high tech program for high school students at Flextronics when I was 16. Flextronics gave me the opportunity through a rotational program to learn every role in manufacturing of high tech printed circuit boards. I was hooked from that point forward. What I fell in love with was the constant change required to stay relevant in the high tech industry.
Can you tell us about a female leader that you admire or look up to who positively contributed to your success?
Unfortunately, I did not have any female role models or leaders in my work environment in the early days of my career. Women were non-existent in manufacturing back then. My mother was my female role model. She taught me to be independent, voice my opinions and drive for success in everything I did.
Having the courage to ask for help in a male-dominated industry was difficult for me. I looked at it as a sign of weakness and tried to figure everything out on my own. I later learned from a male role model that not asking for help was holding me back. He taught me to step up, work outside my box and take risks.
What advice do you have for young women that aspire to executive and leadership roles, particularly in industries such as tech that are still heavily male dominated?
My advice to young women is:
- Stretch yourself to deliver results and surpass expectations – The biggest thing holding you back is you!
- Don't wait for something to come to you – Know what you want and go for it.
- Build your network – Having a good network of supporters is key to growth.