This blog is part of our ongoing Women in Technology series.
As a Senior Director, Deborah provides consultative e-discovery solutions for Fortune 500 corporations and premier law firms involved in complex and large-scale litigation matters. Deborah has more than 15 years e-discovery experience. As a member of the Review Solutions Leadership team, Deborah assists with providing oversight of the team’s compliance with daily operations requirements, provides direct oversight of the Review Solutions Pharma / Healthcare vertical, and is also responsible for oversight of the Review Solutions Training and Development team. Deborah has extensive experience in providing complex workflow solutions for governmental investigations, Second Requests, and Multi-District Litigation matters. Her experience is relied upon to formulate review plans implementing various workflows, including the use of various technology and applications to create an effective and efficient review plan.
How did you get into this industry?
I started my career at the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), a predecessor of FINRA. After spending 7 years in the financial industry, I began working as a legal consultant for an angel investment firm before relocating to Raleigh, NC where I began working as a contractor for Huron Consulting Group. In 2008, I joined Consilio (formerly Huron Consulting Group’s Review Management team), where I have been in various roles over the last 15 years. This is an industry which has grown and evolved at an exponential rate, giving individuals like myself who thrive on change and fast-paced environments an exciting opportunity to be part of the growth and innovation within this industry.
What were some pivotal moments in your career that helped to get you to where you are today?
As a law student, I intended to pursue a career in prosecution of white-collar crimes. After spending a summer at the New York Attorney General’s office, where the realization of the slow and steady pace of prosecutions set in, I began contemplating a different path within the financial industry. After focusing in on the NASD, I contacted the HR department to apply for an internship position. They acknowledged receiving at least a dozen inquiries each year, but said they never got around to establishing a program. This seemed like a small problem with an easy solution and I drafted a proposal for the creation of the program. I did in fact become the first intern at the NASD. This was a pivotal moment for me, personally and professionally, because I was viewed as someone with a positive attitude and a problem solver. This created different opportunities for me, including creating a new role which I was hired for. The internship was successful with over 100 interns following me and became the source for hiring all entry level attorneys.
Another pivotal moment occurred a few years into my career when a member of another department’s leadership team offered to be my mentor. My caseload felt crushing, and in a pre-electronic world, where case files were covering my desk, credenza and floor, I questioned my sanity in committing to this mentorship opportunity knowing this entailed a weekly commitment. It only took a few months to recognize the value of a mentor, and the positive impact it had on me throughout the years. I cannot overstate the value of a mentor. For those of us who have had the benefit of a great mentor, pay it forward and offer mentorship to someone who would appreciate the experience.
Have you ever noticed a time in your career where your gender proved to differentiate you?
Having spent my entire career in male dominated industries, it wasn’t uncommon to be the only woman in the room, or in attendance at a business function. If there were a time my gender differentiated me, it’s not something I was aware of. Characteristics that have differentiated me in my career have been my ability to remain composed and focused during a crisis, and the ability to be highly effective at problem-solving and time management. Whether these characteristics are the result of being a woman (and a mom) or life experiences, what has differentiated me I will never know.
What is your advice for someone working in a predominately male workplace?
The advice that I would give someone who is not in the predominate group, whether it’s because of gender, age, race, religion, orientation, educational background, or role, is to focus on the experiences they as an individual are having within the workplace. I would suggest that they focus on whether their voice is being heard, they are valued and respected as an employee and colleague, and whether they are being given the same opportunities as their peers. My advice to those in the predominate group would be to consider how diversity of people and thought will only strengthen any strategy or initiative being contemplated.
What do you think companies could do to motivate more women to pursue careers in technology?
To encourage more women to consider careers in technology, companies should become more creative and deliberate in how they engage with and recruit prospective candidates. Identify and outline different pathways, such as programs for new college graduates, a re-entry program for woman who are transitioning from raising a family, and a pathway for women who are seeking a career change. Identify the skills that add value, and determine how their experience may translate into a career in technology, outside of the traditional Computer Science background. Schedule information sessions that give prospective candidates, particularly those without a traditional technology background, an opportunity to hear from other women who have pursued a career in technology.