Q and A With Noelle Faris: National Women's Month Highlights
It is National Women's Month, and in honor of the month, and International Women's Day, we interviewed Noelle Faris, Vice President of Investor Relations at Dynatrace.
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It is National Women's Month, and in honor of the month, and International Women's Day, we wanted to do more interviews with Women in Tech.
As a female engineer, I am always interested in the experiences of others who have had similar experiences and was excited for the opportunity to interview a woman who has achieved amazing things in another aspect of the field. I put together some of the questions I have been asked and presented them to Noelle Faris, Vice President of Investor Relations at Dynatrace.
Here Are the Results of That Discussion:
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do at work, and outside of work?
I currently work as the Vice President of Investor Relations at Dynatrace. For those who may not be familiar, Dynatrace provides software intelligence to simplify cloud complexity and accelerate digital transformation. Dynatrace’s all-in-one platform uses automatic and intelligent observability to deliver precise answers about the performance and security of applications, the underlying infrastructure, and the experience of all users to enable organizations to innovate faster, collaborate more efficiently, and deliver more value with dramatically less effort. Back in 2019, Dynatrace went public, so I was brought on board to help lead the team’s investor relations strategy.
Outside of work, I try to get outside and spend as much time with my husband and 3 children (ages 17, 15, and 12) as possible. We love to ski, hike, surf, or just lounge at the beach.
Do you have any role models or people that influenced you?
There were many influential figures in my life who took notice of my work ethic and skillset and encouraged me to pursue interests that I may not have necessarily chosen for myself. It is so meaningful to have mentors over the course of your career, and it’s great to work at a company like Dynatrace that supports and embraces those relationships. It’s important that we all serve as advocates for each other, and this is a dynamic that’s inherent to the Dynatrace culture.
On that note, have you had mentorship experiences, as a mentor or a protege? How has that affected your career?
I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of mentorship. I’ve been fortunate in my career to be surrounded by amazing work cultures that embrace diversity. I believe mentoring is not just about women helping other women. Obviously, as women, we should be taking notice and providing advancement opportunities to those that are new in their careers but it’s also about the male leaders, who recognize there is a bit of a gender bias and look for ways to level the playing field.
I’ve had both male and female mentors along that way that have had a profound impact on my career. One of which encouraged (really pushed) me to get my MBA. That wasn’t something I ever would have imagined doing without his prodding and encouragement and looking back, it has been one of the most pivotal moments in my career.
Mentoring others is something I always try to emulate as I progress in my career, and I’m constantly looking for ways to extend my hand to help the next generation of women carve their own career paths as well.
How did you become interested in tech?
I have always been drawn to the tech industry and, especially today, it’s such an exciting space to be a part of. I have always been interested in learning and understanding the unique technology capabilities of whichever company I am working for, and it’s this affinity for tech that ultimately led me to my role at Dynatrace today.
What has your career path been like to get you to where you are now?
After graduating from Gordon College with a BA in Psychology, I went on to get my MBA from Northeastern University. From there, I was a financial analyst for a few years, before moving on to investor relations at Sapient. Since then, I have held investor relations roles at Akamai Technologies, PTC, and now, Dynatrace.
What skills do you have that allow you to thrive?
As funny as it might sound, my undergraduate degree is in psychology and I really utilized that skillset throughout my career. The ability to listen and understand what drives and motivates the people I am working with is critical to my success as a leader. Strong communication skills are essential in my role, both internal and external communications.
On the finance side, I love number crunching and excel spreadsheets. It’s my happy place … my kids call me a math nerd. I fully embrace that title at this point, although I would have fought it years ago. I’ve just learned to embrace the challenges of math.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I am the proudest of the work I did at Akamai evolving the Akamai Foundation. The Akamai Foundation was created by several of the top executives at Akamai to support Boston-paced STEM programs that were focused on underserved populations. Diversity and Giving were two key pillars of Akamai’s culture and this was one of the ways Akamai was able to give back to the community.
As a mother of a young daughter at the time, I was extremely interested, and over time became the President of the foundation. During my time overseeing the program the original seed money contributed was running low and we knew, at current course and speed, we’d only have 2 years remaining to continue to support many of the programs. After many months of planning and preparation, we successfully submitted a proposal to the Akamai Board requesting a one-time endowment of $50 million that was granted in 2018. After we received Board approval, CEO Tom Leighton looked at me and said, “you just saved the foundation … thank you.” That will probably go down as the all-time best moment of my career.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career and how did you address them?
I’d say the hardest challenge was when I became a mother. Balancing family and work can be extremely difficult, especially in the beginning, but I knew it could be done. Having peers that I worked with that were having similar struggles, who could empathize and offer advice was very helpful. Every company should have an employee resource group for new parents.
Communication and asking for help are extremely important … here’s a great example … following the birth of my third child, I wanted to spend more time with my then young children. After weeks of deliberating, I gave my notice. I thought my only options were to work full-time or quit a job that I loved. The thought of a flexible work schedule hadn’t even entered my mind. Luckily, the HR folks stepped in and created an amazingly balanced schedule that afforded me the opportunity to be more present with my kids while maintaining my career.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming women and other under-represented folks in technology?
- Be genuine, don’t try to fit in. Embrace who you are and your differences; especially in technology, where collaboration and different perspectives are requirements for innovation.
- Find your people. And this doesn’t need to be people that look or think exactly like you but find your support system, the peers and mentors that will back you up no matter what and advocate on your behalf.
- Do what you love. If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work and everything else will fall into place.
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