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An Influential Technology Executive Benefits From “Mom Skills”

It’s Mother’s Day, and we think Moms in Technology are pretty special.  Some words from a fast-moving Mom in Technology, Helen Waters, an Executive Vice President of MEDITECH who has been on the cutting edge of technology for over a decade.  During our conversation we found a lot of insights that we think other mothers in technology could relate to as well as some advice for younger women.

Women in the field of technology are definitely in the minority, so why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?

I came out of college with interest in software because it was booming in the 80’s. When I arrived at my first company, I quickly fell in love with the power and potential of what technology can do to increase efficiencies for business. Technology was moving quickly then and it’s moving even faster today. I have been at MEDITECH for over 20 years and my love of healthcare and tech has kept me intrigued. I think in my case, knowing that what I do indirectly helps people by healing them in their most vulnerable hours gives me a great sense of fulfillment.

What challenges do women face that are specific to the technology field?

I was very fortunate to work for a progressive company that provided early recognition of the strong contribution that women can make to the workforce. MEDITECH understood that there are years in particular that women need to keep a family and work life balance, that is not always easy to find in a company.

In addition, I was taught growing up that taking care of your elders was important, so it was fortunate as well that they gave me time to tend to my parents.

I feel very blessed to be able to keep that balance and have that experience. MEDITECH gave me the ability to spend time with my family while contributing to the advancement of the company.

What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work, and things they could be doing better to advance their careers?

I have witnessed the same patterns that are spoken about across many industries.  Women can lack confidence and willingness to communicate their needs. It is not always as intuitive for women to identify the future they are looking for and have the conversations to get them there, because they sometimes have the dual focus of family life and business life. I would recommend that just as you have goals in your personal life, you create goals in your corporate life and have the confidence to create the opportunity you are striving for.

People often wonder about the differences between how men and women lead. What are your thoughts on that?

The differences have been written about for centuries, men and women are wired differently. We see topics through different lenses and communicate differently. In the 21st century all that we have learned about human behavior has helped us become more alike. Women have contributed greatly in the last few decades, bringing our unique skill set to the table. I believe when there is humility on both sides, you can garner a lot from each other. I have learned a great deal from both men and women and have been able to combine their skills to create my own style.

Over the years, how has your family life affected your career in either a positive or negative way?

Entirely positive, except for those days they can drive you crazy! Parenting is the hardest job in the world. It has made me more humble, it’s helped me to realize the areas where I need to grow as a person, it’s helped me refine my communication style. When you are trying to interpret a teenager you have to put yourself in their shoes. I have grown because I use that same strategy at work – I try to walk a mile in others’ shoes and ask what I would I want from those shoes. My family life has also inspired me to become a better leader, because I think of my daughters and wonder what they would want from a boss?

How do you explain what you do to your children?

My children are older so they have known my work for their entire lives; they have an appreciation for what the company does and how it contributes. My kids have seen a lot of change in my profession from sales to operations to management; travel and no travel. I tell them my job is to help this company grow and flourish but more importantly, to help people grow. I hope to develop the next generation of people who are as inspired as I am. Hopefully during the path of my career I will have influenced a substantial number of people and contributed to the future of the company through them.

What advice would you give your daughter for working in the tech industry?

I am proud that my daughters are independent young women. By virtue of observation and having to adjust to a certain agility in their lives, they have become amazing people. I would tell them that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and you still have many years to go in your journey. You never know everything, so be open to learning.

I have also been incredibly fortunate to be in a supportive relationship throughout my career at MEDITECH and during those incredibly important years of starting a family. I am mindful always, about the impact of the partnership Jim and I have been fortunate to build and how positively that has influenced our daughters and my career. Whatever your support structure and partnership looks like in your life, it’s always important to recognize its connection to your own personal success.

What’s next in Tech? What are you watching right now for the future?

Software and healthcare is at the epicenter of a huge economic driving force behind the national discussion on healthcare. It’s impactful and important. Healthcare is being driven by technology now more than ever before. We are tailoring treatments based on the data we are getting.  In particular, genetic profiling can determine what you may be predisposed to, so you can take preventive measure to avoid medical issues down the line. So much can be done by merging science and technology that is exciting for the future. I love technology, but in particular,  I love that the healthcare based on this technology allows us to deliver better outcomes for our loved ones, like our own mother’s.

Comport would like to say thank you to all mothers and women in technology on this special day!

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