The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Industry Executive of the Year finalist Leslie Harlien, who’s vice president of public business development and strategy at Dell Technologies. Here, she talks key achievements, shaping the next generation of industry leaders, proud career moments and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
Dell’s purpose is to create technologies that drive human progress. A great example of this is leveraging technology in a virtual world. We stood up three state and local government customer advisory boards during the pandemic. This forum brought our government customers together in a virtual world to collaborate on shared critical needs and learn from each other in a time when so many felt they were isolated. We listened and shared how Dell as a global company with 158,000 employees was navigating the pandemic.
These virtual advisory boards met monthly the first year to continue learning from each other. This also allowed Dell to understand what issues were keeping our government leaders up at night and better meet their needs in this time of uncertainty.
We partnered with our customers and hosted complimentary webinars covering critical topics including how to enable a remote workforce during a pandemic, and the increased importance of security it brings.
Additionally, we had to come together internally to quickly address the needs of our teams so they could help their customers. We created an internal site to help them answer customers questions, provided our teams with additional resources, prioritized Dell’s solutions and held internal webinars to keep our teams up to date
What has made you successful in your current role?
Being passionately committed to our customers and their missions; be it providing excellent services or protecting the citizens they serve. Also, having empathy and being a good listener has been paramount the last 18 months, as we have seen both our customers and our employees needs change.
Lastly, being able to collaborator across multiple organizations while staying agile has been critical, as we all adjust to new ways of communicating and working remotely.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
I am an active mentor and advocate for others. I enjoy listening and mentoring those within Dell Technologies, as well as those outside the company including customers and students such as those in our Girls Who Game Program.
One of my personal goals is to have a positive impact on our next generation of female leaders. It is important for these young women to see other women with careers in technology to inspire them to pursue their dreams. I enjoy learning from my mentees too, as it is imperative for us both to grow in the relationship which helps us learn new perspectives and hone our skills throughout our careers.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
Earlier in my career, I was hesitant to take risks. I have since learned if you don’t take risks, you will stay stagnant. Failure is the best way to learn and grow. Taking calculated risks pushes you to learn new skills and evolve existing ones.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of having a positive impact on others. It is rewarding to see those you mentor become one of your peers and knowing you made a difference.
Quick story, two years ago, my husband and I were at a retail store one weekend in Austin when a man came up to my husband and told him he wanted to share how much of an impact I had on his life and career. He said he wouldn’t be where he is today without my guidance and mentorship.
Now, he was being very kind and generous, but this was very inspiring to hear as having a positive impact on others is what motivates me every day.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Be a life-long learner. There is so much to learn in the world from leadership, to technology, to government, to science, it is endless. The world is constantly changing so stay curious and learn, it will help you stay relevant in whatever you are doing today and want to do in the future.