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Women in Tech: A #LifeAtVeritas Interview with Shawn Ratto

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I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Shawn Ratto at our APJ and EMEA Renewal Kick-Off event during August after her inspiring and informative presentation, I asked her if she’d be interested in sharing details about how she has progressed her career, what it’s like working in tech and how we can encourage more women to join the IT industry. So, here is my interview with Shawn, I hope you like it!

Meet Shaun Ratto, Vice President - Global Renewal Strategy and OperationsMeet Shaun Ratto, Vice President - Global Renewal Strategy and OperationsZoe: Hi Shawn, it was great to meet you at the recent Renewals Kick-Off and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule today to answer a few questions. Can you tell us how you got into the IT industry?
Shawn: I was working in banking in Silicon Valley and I was friends with the wife of the CFO of Informix Software. At a New Year’s Eve party, I asked the CFO if he thought my background and skills were transferable into high tech. He told me that he was waiting for me to bring it up. Talk about a sliding door moment. I interviewed and was hired. A year or so later, IBM purchased the assets of Informix and therefore, I joined the IBM family.

Zoe: What motivated you to join Veritas?
Shawn: The people I interviewed with (7 in one day) and my trusted advisors stated that the products were very good and can go the distance. So, that’s why I’m here at Veritas!

Zoe: What do you enjoy most about working in tech?
Shawn: Anytime we can fulfil a client’s need, add value and watch companies prosper on our technologies, that is what engages me the most about working in tech.

Zoe: What is your greatest work achievement?
Shawn: Driving the IBM renewal business from $100M a year to $4.6B a year.  It was an amazing effort in building trust, teaming, vision and empowerment.

Zoe: Shaun, congratulations on building the strong renewals business at IBM. That’s a great achievement! How has your management style developed over the years?
Shawn: I don’t sweat the little stuff. I have really developed the capability of compartmentalizing my business life and personal life. Just because someone may not agree with my point of view, it's business not personal.

Zoe: What would you suggest makes a good leader? 
Shawn: Insight. Stopping to see what the root cause of a problem is and attack the root cause proactively vs. actioning reactively. Developing trust is key but again, trust is earned, not automatically deserved because of a title. Most importantly, treat everyone like they are an Executive Vice President. Titles do not make a good leader, actions do.

Zoe: Who are your role models and influencers?
Shawn: I have a mentor that has helped me during my highs and lows. She has been wonderful but the people I engage with daily are the ones that drive my passion for technology. Those individuals that put our clients first, are my role models, those individuals that have the vision of our technology are my role models, those individuals that “say what they mean and mean what they say” are my influencers. It is not necessarily a person, but more so the character that creates an impact.

Zoe: What advice would you give to women wanting to get into tech?
Shawn: Follow your passion. I’ve always thought that “making a difference” was key for me. As I’ve progressed in my career, it is less self-reflective but more what the company can do for the world. Do you want to work for a company that disrupts, or a company that protects, or a company that innovates? Follow your passion and it will take you to the right technology company because you must believe in what the company has to offer its clients and customers.

Zoe: That’s brilliant advice, thanks, Shaun! So, what do you think the next years hold for women in IT?
Shawn: I’ve had two careers, one in banking and the other in technology. Over the years, I have seen women take more leadership positions and positions of influence. However, one of the areas I learnt from my mentor and observations, is that we cannot “wait” for a role to come to us. You must network and prove you are the right candidate for the next role. Don’t assume that just because you do a “good job” in your current role that you are considered the right fit for the next. The next role may not be tactical but strategic. Prove it. Make sure you can speak to why you are being the right candidate for the next role. It does not matter if you are in engineering or sales, you should ALWAYS be networking and selling your way to your next promotion. The opportunities are endless, but you must be strategic and thoughtful. 

IMG_1383 Shaun Ratto.JPGZoe: How do you balance your work life and personal life?
Shawn: Well, I’m probably not the best person to ask today. However, when my son was young (he is off my payroll now), I did not travel, I did not miss a game, I was there every night for him as he was my number one priority. Honestly, my career fell stagnant. However, once he took off to college, my career took off. Why? I let the influencers in my career know I was ready and capable of travelling. Over the next five years, I was promoted three times in executive ranks. 

Zoe: Thank you Shaun, for your time and sharing your career insights with our VOX blog readers today.

So, that concludes my interview with Shawn Ratto, if you enjoyed this blog, then do stay tuned as there will be more interview-style posts from other women in Veritas posted shortly. And if this has inspired you to join Veritas, well you can find our latest vacancies and apply here. There are plenty of opportunities at Veritas! So, why not join our growing renewals team?

Finally, watch out for more #LifeAtVeritas blogs and podcasts coming soon!