Getting an Early Start at Building an Inclusive Culture

  • March 08, 2019
NTT DATA Services IWD Shelly Blog

My career in IT services began at an early age. When I was 14, my dad — a cattle and alfalfa rancher in Southern California, where we were surrounded by diary farms — challenged me to go to college and figure out how to develop a system where all the dairy milk processing, and data of each cow, could be tracked automatically.

At that time, the dairy industry was built around manual processes and paper-dependent record keeping. Each cow was tracked by an ear tag that told that cow's story with respect to eating, shots, offspring, mike production, etc. A small-to-medium-sized operation could really benefit by some automation! In retrospect, I also believe that he wanted me to have a career where I could travel the world, earn a great living and be challenged intellectually. And not be tied to a job doing manual labor.

I started college at 16 and wrote my first computer program at 17. Since then I've had the opportunity to travel the world, leading IT operations and projects in mining, distribution and retail operations. I've been blessed to work in remote mining locations in Africa, Australia, Peru, Chile, and Canada, where I have met some incredible people and learned about diverse cultures.

Along the way I was able to build long-lasting friendships and professional relationships with executives and support personnel the world over. It was such a relationship that brought me to NTT DATA. A close colleague (whose company supported me through several complex projects), approached me about a position where I would have the opportunity to solve client challenges and provide solutions impacting both the client and NTT DATA's bottom line. Because NTT DATA was a large, global, and diverse company where I could have a positive impact made my decision to join the company easy.

As a management consultant and former auditor, I never really know what I’m walking into until I meet with the client and dive in. On many occasions I would arrive at a job site and be told who I could trust, who possessed key knowledge and who didn’t, and in most cases, many individuals had their own agenda. In just as many instances I found hidden gems of human talent that were under-used and had keen insight into the business. Some of these people may not have been perceived as having a direct link to a management group’s agenda, or to their success, and so they were under-valued. It's important at all levels to understand the goals of the company and tie the work to those goals.

I believe that everyone deserves respect and a chance at opportunity within the organization, including those with limited experience. I challenge anyone to participate freely in teams, communicate achievements, ask questions and align themselves with those individuals who are supportive and believe that it takes a team to get things accomplished. Every person in an organization provides a necessary function and should be given respect, recognition and the support to access even more opportunities.

I see our company making great strides towards gender equality and treatment of all women and men with respect and equity. Throughout my career as I have navigated the corporate ranks, I’ve been an advocate for other women, most of them early in their career, and I work to provide them with different opportunities, give them more visibility to others, mentor and highlight their value to their management. During my tenure with NTT DATA, I have enjoyed the opportunity to reach out and support female colleagues and see their opportunities and growth expand.

Since the launch of Women Inspire NTT DATA (WIN) in 2018, I have seen the interest, membership and awareness of the various WIN chapters grow significantly. It is exciting to reach so many people across the organization and discuss common and relevant topics, gaining diverse perspectives and working together toward building the momentum and delivery on shared goals.

I co-lead the WIN Without Borders group to communicate our value and purpose to build our membership and help to plan, create and deliver relevant content and conversations. I participate on the CORE WIN group; planning our calendar of events, marketing and communication around all the WIN activities. In my day-to-day duties, I enjoy working with others in the organization and treat all men and women with respect and value their involvement and input. We all play a vital role in the organization and provide value. I believe each of us should have a voice and be respected. And I enjoy being part of the WIN Team!

Read the announcement by NTT DATA Corporation, with a statement by Yo Honma, President, and CEO of NTT DATA.

#balanceforbetter #IWD2019 #NTTDATA @nttdataservices

International Women’s Day 2019 blogging schedule:

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Shelly Barnes

Shelly is an accomplished leader with over 25 years of diverse industry, domestic and international experience in technical leadership, business process transformation and merger acquisition integrations. Working with Fortune 500 companies, she has led IT operations and transformations across the many countries within various industries including mining, healthcare, hospitability, high-tech, utilities and professional services. Shelly currently holds the position of Strategic Delivery Advisor for the Commercial vertical of NTT DATA Services.

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