I’m a big believer that as a leader, you’re only as good as your team, so it’s important to engage your team in key decisions and create a culture where everyone has a voice. When everyone has a clear role and is invested in a common goal, there are more opportunities to reach goals and even address challenges.
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Dismore.
Stephanie Dismore is senior vice president and managing director, North America, at HP Inc. In this role, Dismore is responsible for leading all aspects of HP’s market strategy and managing the multibillion-dollar P&L for the company’s largest geographic region. She also oversees direct and indirect sales engagements across HP’s portfolio of products and services, for commercial, consumer and public sector customer segments for the region.
During her 21-year tenure at HP, Dismore has held a variety of leadership positions in sales, marketing and channel roles. Most recently, she served as vice president and general manager of Americas Channels, where she was responsible for leading HP’s commercial and consumer channel sales in the U.S., as well as overseeing all channel-related partner planning, development and programs for thousands of HP Partners in the Americas region. Prior to that, Dismore led the Americas commercial channel with primary responsibility for HP’s U.S. commercial channel business and Americas channel partner development and programs.
Dismore earned a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration from Messiah College and currently resides in Austin, Texas with her two children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Before I joined HP, my background was in cable TV, consumer brands and sports marketing. I didn’t see myself working for a tech company, but I have now been with HP for more than
20 years. My first job at HP was as the marketing communications manager for HP’s calculator team in Vancouver, something I never expected to do. From there, I moved into different sales, marketing and channel roles. I eventually rose to vice president and general manager of Americas Channels. In this role, I was responsible for leading HP’s commercial and consumer channel sales in the U.S., as well as overseeing all channel-related partner planning, development and programs for thousands of HP partners in the Americas region.
In November 2019 I was promoted to senior vice president and managing director, North America. In this role, I am now responsible for leading all aspects of HP’s market strategy and managing the multibillion-dollar P&L for the company’s largest revenue-generating region. I also oversee direct and indirect sales engagements across HP’s portfolio of products and services, for commercial, consumer and public sector customer segments for the market.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Once when I was at an important work dinner, I received a piece of advice that changed my outlook on living in the moment. A trusted mentor saw me looking at my phone during dinner, and he gave me a bit of advice: “Be here now.” What he explained was that he, too, often feels torn between work, family, and other obligations and found that the best thing is to be fully present in his current situation. I took his advice to heart, and it’s improved both my work life and my personal relationships, so I can focus solely on the meeting I am in, or just on my kids when I am home with them.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As a female leader, I am extremely proud to be part of an organization that is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. At HP, we strive to embed diversity and inclusion (D&I) into everything we do — from how we operate as a company to how we impact society. We are a leader in this area, with the most diverse Board of Directors of any technology company in the U.S. Additionally, women represent HP’s workforce, and we have nearly 100 Business Impact Networks (BINs) to offer a forum for employees to share their stories and connect with others through shared interests.
Last year, one of my colleagues decided to start a new initiative, called HP EmpowHER, that provides gender equality resources, as well as professional and personal growth opportunities, to female employees. Although the program has only been rolled out North America, we have ambitions to expand company-wide and I’m confident the passion of my colleague will benefit everyone. I am inspired by her dedication to take action and to contribute to HP’s collaborative and inclusive environment.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
Simply put: no. I’m not satisfied with the status quo, and I challenge the notion that there is a status quo. Women in technology have already made incredible contributions in the last decade, and in 2020 I believe the biggest opportunity to continue this progress is talent diversification. As women in tech, it’s our prerogative to redefine our roles and take a seat at the head of the table. Women across industries are taking risks to make technology accessible to all and create an inclusive culture of all talent backgrounds.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
From my perspective, the biggest challenge is giving women the recognition they deserve for their breakthroughs in STEM and technology fields. In 2019, Forbes published its “Most Innovative Leaders” special, which only included one woman and ninety-nine men. This misconception of women’s contributions as leaders and innovators is one that society needs to change and recognize the incredible cultural and technological shifts that have been led by women.
To address this, we all have a responsibility to promote and support female-led initiatives, and to reach younger generations through STEM programs. One way to do this is for businesses to partner with organizations like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and the Boys and Girls Club of America, who all offer programs to young women interested in STEM careers. To other female tech and STEM leaders, we can also be role models for the next generation, and inspire young women to follow their dreams to be data scientists, astronauts, engineers and technologists.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Lead with Clear Communication — As a leader, your team will look to you for guidance, to delegate tasks and set priorities. I have found that it’s imperative to establish a culture of transparency and clear communication, so that everyone knows their roles and expectations. This is particularly important during turbulent times, when obstacles can inhibit the normal ways of working. Leaders and teams who proactively communicate will be prepared to face these challenges and continue working in sync.
- Nurture Relationships — It can be tempting to respond to every email and calendar invite instantly. But sending one more email before joining a family dinner won’t make or break your goals — relationships will. I’ve learned that giving my full attention and effort to all of the relationships in my life has made me a better business partner, colleague, mother and friend. At the end of the day, it’s our connections to others that will help us succeed and grow.
- Tap Into a “One Life” Mentality — Our society is obsessed with compartmentalizing identity. We are hung up on work-life balance, believing we have a “work” identity and a multitude of “other” identities; mother, sister, partner, friend, ambassador. At HP, we champion the idea of “One Life,” that there is no 50/50 balance between work and life, but a holistic view of every person. By adopting the idea of “One Life,” I have learned to embrace each part of myself and show up fully, ultimately making me a better leader.
- Make a Roadmap for Success — In business, we create outcomes-based strategies that clearly define each step required to reach completion or ongoing success. Why can’t we apply this approach to our individual goals? I came to this realization when a mentor asked me what final role I wanted before I retired. To envision my end goal, I had to identify the steps and other career milestones I would like to achieve along the way. I learned to map out each step and prioritize my roles and responsibilities to get there, with a mix of short- and long-term objectives.
- Take Action for What You Believe In — As female leaders, it’s our responsibility to be role models for other women. If we want to see changes in gender equality, workplace diversity or company culture, it is up to us to be the change. This can happen in small steps, but what’s important is to take a stand and mobilize others. Be an example for those around you by joining a mentorship program, leading a community service project or organizing a fundraiser. You just may inspire a new generation of women to achieve their goals and lift others in the process.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
It may sound counterintuitive, but my advice is to find a way to say yes. Some of the most impactful experiences of my career have come from times I have raised my hand and ultimately learned new skills, worked with new colleagues or led a new project. It is important to maintain a solution mindset, and stay committed to your team to find the best outcome that leads to shared success.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
I’m a big believer that as a leader, you’re only as good as your team, so it’s important to engage your team in key decisions and create a culture where everyone has a voice. When everyone has a clear role and is invested in a common goal, there are more opportunities to reach goals and even address challenges. Clear communication is also a fundamental management skill, and probably the most important when working with a large team.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At HP, we practice a culture of giving back. I am also deeply committed to giving back to my local community of Austin, Texas. In 2018 and 2019, my team and I developed a new community service initiative within HP called “Channel for Change,” a partnership between HP, its channel partners, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help underserved youth bridge the digital divide. In October, we hosted a joint event with HP Channel for Change, EmpowHER and the Central Florida Boys and Girls Club of America, where volunteers assembled 300 snack packs for local children. I’m looking forward to reaching more local communities through Channel for Change in 2020.
I am also honored to be the recipient of City of Hope’s “Spirit of Life” award for 2020. City of Hope is a research, treatment and education center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. As the 2020 honoree, I will support City of Hope’s mission to create new, better and unprecedented possibilities for more than 100 million patients worldwide. In partnership with HP, we will “Reinvent Hope” to keep reinventing the health care industry and develop tomorrow’s life-saving therapies, today.