Robin Bienfait: CIO, BlackBerry
Meet one of Little PINK Book’s Top Women in Technology 2012
By Caroline Cox
BlackBerry CIO Robin Bienfait knows competition in the mobile phone industry is fierce. That’s why, in addition to her responsibilities of maintaining the company’s operations, customer service and IT functions, she took on additional responsibilities to give BlackBerry an edge over other companies in 2011.
Education: Central Missouri State University, Maryland University at England’s Cambridge University, Georgia Institute of Technology
Other work experience: AT&T, Global Network Services
LPB: Where did you get your passion for technology?
RB: My father is a mathematician, so I grew up having discussions about numbers around the dinner table. Many people don’t realize a mathematician can lend insights to science, engineering and business! Because of my childhood, I thrived in a technical environment. My passion for technology stems from always being curious. I thrive in environments where I can apply my skills to help others. I’m all about teamwork.
LPB: What was the biggest career obstacle you faced?
RB: Achieving work and life balance. It’s always a work in progress! Being connected to both home and work, especially while I’m traveling, helps me stay in touch. I use video chat, BlackBerry Messenger and social media. It amazes me how far technology has come during my career.
LPB: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
RB: I’m a proud soccer mom! We spend a lot of time on the soccer field, which has been a great family bonding experience. Most recently, I became involved with Empowering Sports. It’s a grassroots organization to raise awareness of professional women’s athletics. It also gives youth interested in sports a chance to spend time with coaches, trainers and mentors who focus on personal development skills on and off the field.
LPB: How can more women be successful in the technology field?
RB: I find great satisfaction when I work with local volunteer organizations, meet people with similar interests and [step] outside of my comfort zone. I encourage all women to find groups that can enrich their careers. I tell women to not be afraid to admit they are in technology and to become recognized thought leaders! Some of my volunteer activities include: the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Georgia CIO Leadership Association, Tech America, TechBridge and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Finding mentors and friends who can support your personal development goals provides guidance, which is so satisfying!
LPB: What’s your success secret?
RB: I have three philosophies: keep the customer at the center of everything you do; you are only as good as your team; and being successful doesn’t always mean moving up; it can mean moving laterally. Lateral moves should be encouraged to develop new and different skills. The motto “You may think the grass is greener on the other side – but, if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green,” resonates with me.
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