Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joanne Moretti, Dell’s VP & Global Head Software Marketing. Canadian-born Ms. Moretti who currently works in Texas, spoke candidly about her game-changing role at Dell as well as her career path in IT in Canada, providing insight to other women about how she strives for success in the tech sector. Ms. Moretti also shared her passion for mentorship and elaborated on two broad mentorship programs she’s involved with at Dell.
Q: Your current role at Dell is quite a transformative one. Can you elaborate on your role in Dell’s customer-focused solutions push?
A: “It’s the most exciting time of my career,” stated Ms. Moretti. “I am able to use all of my accumulated knowledge and experience – engineering, sales, marketing and customer solutions: it all comes to bear in my role at Dell.”
Reporting to the president of the recently formed Dell Software Group, Ms. Moretti is the VP & Global Head of Software Marketing at Dell. “The software division is starting a whole new conversation with its customers at Dell,” Ms. Moretti explained. “The software division and business began as a start-up inside a big organization. We are creating awareness about this new capability both inside and outside Dell.”
Dell is shifting from its product company focus to becoming an end to end (E2E) solution provider by integrating the recently acquired software marketing organizations into Dell. It’s also further developing its GTM strategies and value propositions for organizations looking to accelerate their results through mobile, cloud and big data technologies in a secure and simplified way.
Q: You’ve led a dynamic career in the tech sector. What first interested you in technology?
A: “In the 80s, I was interested in companies like DEC and IBM and I noticed that IT inspired me,” began Ms. Moretti. “People were also being hired on the spot. I felt that technology was an up and coming industry and it offered all the right career opportunities [for me].”
“Remember, though, computers were not ‘in our hands’ as they are now.”
“I joined Control Data Institute in Toronto to learn computer programming and engineering. Before finishing university, I got my first role in the IT department of CIBC.”
Q: Tech remains a male-dominated industry. Your impact in tech companies over the years has been impressive and you’ve been recognized as an ‘influential woman in IT’. What are some of the key strategies you’ve used to make your mark and become influential in tech organizations?
“It’s been a hard road but women have made great progress,” began Ms. Moretti. “And while I’m the only woman on John Swainson’s [executive] team in the software group there are women in key global leadership roles throughout Dell including HR, legal, sales, sales operations, customer care, operations, marketing – so women are making their mark. We have an incredibly strong pipeline internally.”
“My advice to women today is that it is vitally important to understand the industry. You must keep up to date with current trends, in our industry those include BYOD, mobile, cloud.”
“It is also important to always speak in the language of business. Understand how to read and interpret a balance sheet and how, in my case, assess and communicate how tech translates into business value, for example.”
“Dell’s acquisitions have given me broad and varied data to understand and leverage for success. I understand how each marketing dollar translates into revenue for Dell.”
Q. I, personally have a keen and supportive interest in mentorship. Have you had a mentor? What did you find most valuable about your mentorship experience?
A. “Everyone should have a mentor,” remarked Ms. Moretti. “In fact, everyone should have a personal board of directors. Diversity and different opinions are very important in career development and they offer incredible value.”
“I have 3 or 4 different mentors, both inside and outside of Dell,” shared Ms. Moretti. “Mentorship is a two-way street. Learning happens both ways.”
Q. Tell me about Dell’s WISE program; it sounds exemplary. Do you have a WISE buddy? / Are you mentor?
A. “WISE is Dell’s biggest and long standing mentorship initiative and is one of Dell’s many Employee Resource Groups (ERGs),” said Ms. Moretti. “WISE currently has an executive sponsor, Karen Quintos, Dell’s Chief Marketing Officer. I am new to WISE and now Co-Chair the initiative.”
“Contrary to its name, WISE is open to everyone in Dell. Men run WISE chapters, for example.”
“There are many WISE initiatives for this year, including mentoring, key talent programs, and other programs geared toward learning more about Dell business groups and strategy.”
Ms. Moretti went on to explain, “WISE is its own community within Dell, and provides a ‘safe’ environment for learning, practice and consultation. WISE members are provided support and a sense of belonging. It serves a great internal resource group for feedback and input to Dell.”
“I am also a supporter of other networking & mentorship resources such as EWF, Executive Women’s Forum, and WITI, Women in Technology International for Dell employees.” said Ms. Moretti. “[In EWF and WITI], men and women connect and grow with other people looking to develop their skills and career. It provides a rich opportunity to share challenges and issues on tech, which translates into intelligence back into Dell. I think it’s fantastic exposure, like ‘crowd sourcing’ on a particular vector in tech.”
DWEN, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, is another mentorship network that is in-line with Ms. Moretti’s networking and development interests.
“DWEN is made up of women founders, entrepreneurs and innovative leaders from around the globe”, Ms. Moretti explained. “And, like Michael Dell’s entrepreneurial roots, which started Dell, these women share the same entrepreneurial beliefs and attitudes.”
“DWEN hosts an annual invitation-only event each year in June. Last year, DWEN was held in Istanbul, Turkey. DWEN 2014 will be held in Austin, Texas. In between the annual event, intimate networking events are hosted by Dell and attended by women business owners in major cities around the world.”
“Dell is committed to enabling women through the use of technology and to help women succeed in business,” Ms. Moretti said. “Conversations via social network – LinkedIn,Twitter, and other networks – allow these women to connect and collaborate to grow their businesses. Dell has a network of over 500,000 followers, right now.”
Q. What advice do you have for women entering IT fields, today? And, for those already in IT careers?
A. “IT has everything,” said Ms. Moretti. “It offers many career paths: business roles, analytics – big data is huge, and exciting project management roles – not just running applications, but involving change management and transformational projects.
“Big data, cloud, mobile, security are the big focus right now.”