Diversity in leadership is important to the bottom line. It increases empathy, employee engagement and retention rates.
To celebrate Women’s Month, we asked a few of our leaders how they got to where they are in the competitive and sometimes challenging technology industry. You can read the first interview here.
Next in our Women’s Voices series, Sherri Bockhorst – SVP Innovation and Strategy
What led you to pursue your careers in the technology and SaaS industry?
The intersection of math and people happen in technology, and that is what excites me. I graduated from college with a BS in Actuarial Science and spent years in benefits consulting before pursuing my career in technology. Benefits technology is incredibly exciting to me because we use data to create solutions that help millions of people improve their benefits literacy, benefits selection and healthcare utilization. I am grateful every day to be working in this industry, helping improve individuals and their families’ health and financial well-being.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to women who want to succeed in the technology sector?
It’s the same advice I’d give to anyone who wants to succeed both in their career, and importantly, their life. Follow your passion. If you are pursuing a career that realizes your passion, you will be relentless in achieving your goals. And it’s easy to be relentless when those goals are aligned to something you truly believe in. I am happier and more satisfied, both personally and professionally, because I do something I believe in.
In the era of “Me Too”, do you think the shift in workplace culture has removed barriers in order for women to succeed? Which barriers and why?
The #MeToo movement has provided a stronger voice against sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, empowering women to speak up and no longer be isolated in their experience. In addition to speaking up, I have also witnessed more women taking a stance by choosing. Choosing to work for employers who do not present barriers for women to succeed. Choosing to work in a supportive environment. Choosing to work where they have an equal voice. Choice is power.
I am fortunate to have been raised in a family and an environment where gender was never considered a disqualifier. I have carried that empowerment with me throughout my career. I have actively made career changes, using that choice as my power. My power to succeed. My power to make a difference. I encourage women to take a stance by using their power of choice, to choose working for people and employers who create an environment where intelligence, curiosity, integrity and dependability are valued.
Where would we find you on a Saturday morning?
I live on a farm in central Missouri and my dog, Morgan, and I are always the first up. From March through November, Morgan and I are predictably in the garden – burning weeds, planting and nurturing our organic, heirloom vegetable garden and reaping the rewards of a good harvest. The rest of the year you will find me in the kitchen drinking coffee and experimenting with recipes. Our neighbors often show up on our door step for a meal in the winter because I cook way too much for our little family of three.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who are passionate, and who are willing to take calculated risks to make their dreams come true. In recent years, I have met many women small business owners. They seem to have an unending breadth of expertise – they do the business planning, accounting, marketing, hiring, firing…many while also managing being a mom, spouse and community leader. I am amazed by them. I am inspired by them. And I am thankful they are my friends.
Check out the second interview here.
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