CIO of Origin Energy, Kelly Ferguson, had a dream to be a “technologist” right from the beginning, explaining she tinkered with computers during her impressionable childhood years while her siblings preferred to play on the family farm in the US.
“For me, there have been two key themes that have followed my career: a focus on technology and a focus on people. I’m pretty lucky. I have followed my dream. I always wanted to be a technologist. While the rest of my brothers and sisters played away on the farm, I managed to convince my father in the late 80’s to buy an Apple IIe computer. And then I promptly took it apart.
“I laid out all of the pieces in the most OCD manner you can imagine on my teal carpet and I learned about how that computer worked. I was about nine years old. I remember the look on my father’s face when he opened the bedroom door and saw the $1000 computer in pieces. It was not a good look. I did have to convince him to buy me a soldering iron in order to get it all back together.”
Speaking to a crowd of more than 500 at the FITT International Women’s Day Luncheon in Sydney, Ferguson gave a candid personal account of her journey as a women in IT, while touching on the theme of how to be ‘Bold for Change’ and ‘‘Celebrate the Digital Frontier.’
“The truth is, I am not special. I am sure there are far more people qualified to talk about both of those topics than I am. But I am scrappy and I have worked my buns off to scramble up the top of the corporate ladder - and I am clinging on for dear life.”
Ferguson, the former CIO of NineMSN, credits her father’s pivotal words and encouragement as strong foundations for her success and main reasons for her dogged determination.
“My father is incredibly strong willed, a lawyer by trade, running a farm, whose voice my entire life has been ringing in my ears, saying, ‘Hussle up Kell,’ which means you need to move about ten times faster than you are moving. He was like the original 10 Xer. Let me tell you, though, that voice ringing in my ear was something that I needed.”
She said the fatherly influence has shaped her work mentality and enabled her to never give up and push herself to the limits.
“I have slept under my desk. I have gone two weeks without washing my hair. I have rocked a baby in a Maclaren rocker with my foot, while I stirred dinner with my elbows, typed an email with my left hand and talked to a CEO on the phone about a $10 million deal - and I am not making that up. I have actually been there.”
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