VMWare’s Kerrie Anne Turner On The Power of Saying Yes

Women Love Tech
on October 23, 2019

As a woman working in the technology industry, I have always been acutely aware of gender equality and diversity & inclusion. However, it wasn’t until I was nominated for a business award that I started thinking about the opportunities we accept and the ones we decline.

When I had to take such an introspective, detailed look at myself, my achievements and my career, I came to realise that by not being afraid of failure and instead saying “yes,” there is a wealth of opportunity that opens up – all of which help us discover, develop, fail and ultimately succeed.

Learn from the industry

Many of my “yes” moments have led to me meeting the many women and men who have inspired me along the way. These people have been invaluable in offering me experiences, advice and life lessons.

More often than not, these relationships are built on common ground – I have found inspiration and role models from everywhere, regardless of gender or seniority. For example, we have an amazing group of graduates at VMware who inspire me every day. Their ability to embrace the pace of learning in their role, whilst also striving to make a mark in the wider industry through getting involved beyond a professional capacity is incredible.

Knowing when to say yes

There can also be a certain amount of pressure as a woman in technology when it comes to embracing opportunity and succeeding in the industry. Sometimes this pressure is essential in giving you that extra nudge, as we know some of the biggest learnings in life can come from failures as well as successes. But the pressure isn’t always the thing we should be saying “yes” to.

One of my biggest learnings – and retrospectively a huge turning point in my career and personal journey – came from ‘failing’ at a pitch years ago. After suffering a significant personal loss, I decided to continue with an important, individual business pitch, feeling the pressure not to stop, to embrace the opportunity and ‘say yes’. With my emotional self not in the right space, the pitch didn’t end in success. Looking back, this event took me years to recover from, as I had to come to terms with the fact that it was not actually a failure – the only thing I failed at was compromising my personal loss and giving in to the wider pressure to ‘carry on’, when what I really needed to do was take time out for myself.

As I look back now, in reality this experience taught me not to say ‘no’ but to know when to say yes to your personal self, and when to say yes professionally. It’s important we can all identify the difference.

Say yes today

As an industry we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, but by having a positive outlook and being open to opportunities, we can all help to drive the change.

We’re surrounded by opportunity, inspiration and encouragement – we just need to identify and grab it. I am lucky enough to work in an environment which mirrors where I feel the industry needs to go in terms of gender equality. In fact, as a result of many initiatives including our dedicated Diversity & Inclusion council, VMware has been cited as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for the fifth year running, by the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Start with small things like saying yes to getting to know your colleague better over a coffee, saying yes to learning about a new part of the business or industry you work in, saying yes to trying a new gym class, or even saying yes to having a day to relax and recharge. You’ll be surprised at the growth and learning which stems from it.

More about Kerrie Anne Turner

Kerrie-Anne has built a comprehensive management and leadership skillset locally and internationally with a 25-year career in the information technology sector including 15 years with leading software company, Symantec holding both global and regional senior executive roles, including opening the India operation for the company.

She was also named a finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s awards and also held several board advisory roles including MessageLabs and currently holds an advisory position on the fundraising, marketing and advocacy advisory board of NSW Family Planning and is Deputy Chair of the advisory board for e-Lead, the centre for leadership development. 

Kerrie-Anne actively gives back to the community and has been a member of the NSW Premier’s Lucy Mentoring Program, a keynote speaker at the AIM Outstanding Women’s Series, and is a regular speaker and lecturer on leadership for the University of NSW, Business Leadership Program – LEAD and the e-Lead program for young leaders in high school – Step Up Stand Out.   Kerrie-Anne is also a mentor with NAWO’s (National Association of Women in Operations) mentoring circles program and a feature speaker at the 2016 & 2017 Women in Sales Leadership Summit.


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