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Throughout February, Women In Technology plans to highlight prominent black leaders in technology within the Atlanta area. These leaders, STEM/STEAM role models, and technology trailblazers share with us the meaning of Black History and how their contributions today will reach the next generation.
WIT had the pleasure of interviewing IBM’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Business Alignment, Kitty Chaney Reed.
Chaney-Reed has a strong passion for diversity and inclusion. She is the executive sponsor for the Atlanta Global Women in IBM initiative and also serves on IBM’s Black Executive Council. She is also a senior state executive for IBM in Georgia.
Reed has a wide range of expertise in technology and business which she gained from more than 25 years of hands-on experience in solution design and implementation, service delivery, and operations, client services, shared services, business transformation, mergers and acquisitions, human resource operations, and retail operations.
Q: Tell me a little about who you are and what you do in the tech world.
A: “I am Kitty Chaney-Reed, the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Business alignment with IBM marketing. I’ve had a lot of jobs, and from a technical perspective, I’ve done almost every job you can imagine. I’ve managed developers, QA teams, and our client’s support teams. Over the last 15-20 years, I have turned my attention to internal functions. I work very closely with our internal functions like marketing, quota cash, and those types of functions to optimize our performance through tooling and through operational excellence.”
Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?
A: “Black History Month is really an opportunity to reflect on how I can give back. I recently shared a post on LinkedIn around the fact that all of us have been helped in our careers as black men and women and through lots and lots of sacrifices made by people at all levels. I could share names, but at the end of the day, it’s our responsibility. It’s a debt we owe to the next generation to pave the way forward for them. So for me, Black History month is a month of service every single day, giving back through volunteering, through coaching through mentoring. That’s what Black History Month is to me.”
Q: How do you feel that you’re inspiring the next generation of black leaders?
A: “That’s a great question, one I struggle to answer and I’ll tell you why. I think a lot of people oftentimes put black leaders that have accomplished a whole lot on pedestals. So they look at us, as “here’s what I want to become”. I think that just by sitting in the seat, we inspire people to dream. But I also think what we have to be very careful of is making sure that people don’t idolize this. I want them to know that we’re real people with real flaws and we had to work really, really hard to get to where we are. It wasn’t through magic, right? It was through hard work and sacrifice. and we’re human, just like anybody else.”
Q: Is there a black leader from history who has inspired you? And if so, how?
A: “There are so so many black leaders from history who have inspired me. Today, I would say it’s through the life in the work of Maya Angelou. I think Maya lived a fearless life, she had a strong voice and she used it. I was looking at her poem ‘Still I Rise’, and I was just inspired by the words. Sometimes you need the inspiration to get from day today, and today, it was that inspiration that helped me get through the day.”
Q: What’s one thing you would want others to know about Black history?
A: “I think the thing that I want people to know about black history is that it’s rich, and it goes deep. It’s not enough to know, the people that are talked about all the time, Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad stuff. It’s important to dig deep, deep into your own family history and find out you know, what your own heritage is and who the heroes are in your own space. For those people who are not of color, that is not black, have a conversation with somebody about what Black History Month means to them. I think it’s important to have that perspective and to keep that perspective, front, and center. It’s the only thing that’s going to progress us for when it comes to real true diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Women in Technology would like to think Kitty Chaney-Reed and IBM for taking the time to share this information with our community.