In today’s business climate, innovation is critical to business success, and IT leaders are pressed to consistently innovate at a pace that the business has come to expect.
LogicMonitor is thrilled to feature a Q&A with Melissa Person, the Global Vice President of Enterprise Products and Operations for PVH, the parent company of iconic fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and others. Person discusses her expertise as an IT and DevSecOps leader which spans numerous Fortune 4 to 500 organizations, including an entrepreneurial stint leading her own firm. Her career has been centered on delivering financial growth, strength and stability.
Person describes herself as someone who defines technical strategies to build and deploy state-of-the-art architecture, applications and information security for revenue acceleration. She discusses how she is helping PVH pivot to a more agile IT framework, how she feels about being a woman in a male-dominated field, and how she’s working to get more women into technology leadership.
Following are edited excerpts of that conversation.
How did you get started in IT?
My career in IT began in college as an intern at Aetna. I was hired as a full time employee at Aetna and placed in Aetna’s IT leadership development program, which rotated me through all of their different IT departments giving me exposure and visibility that was invaluable. Because of this, I was able to move into leadership in my third year out of college. Aetna made investments in the technical, personal and professional development of their employees and this is where I began to learn how to implement a scaled agile framework enterprise as an IT and DevSecOps foundation.
What has been your experience watching this industry evolve?
As a woman in IT leadership, I love seeing new opportunities for women that I did not see in the past. In the early years of my career I would often be one of the only women in the boardroom – seeing more women in leadership is really empowering. We have made tremendous progress in diversity in STEM. It is rewarding. Women bring a more collaborative thought process to planning and business.
Why have you decided to stay in IT?
I’m an avid reader and a lifelong learner inherently. Multitasking is exciting to me. I would consider myself an adrenaline queen and I love approaching things with a can-do attitude. IT provides me the opportunity to be constantly challenged and think of ways to improve. Change is something that I have always embraced and the digital transformation that we are experiencing in IT is exactly what I need in order to feel continuously challenged.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in IT?
Always have a mentor inside the corporate workplace as well as outside the workplace. People aren’t buying your product or service they are buying you – build the connection, relationship and trust. Bring humanity to the workplace however you can. Certifications are great but if you aren’t making connections you won’t realize great success. Create autonomy and empowerment. I do not believe in hierarchy but rather in highlighting individual strengths.
Are you doing anything to increase the number of women in tech in the leadership pipeline?
Hiring and promoting women! When you see someone taking initiative – give them the opportunity to step up. When you see someone providing value, give them the opportunity to learn. Everybody is equal and brings the same value. Bringing that human element will help you. Teach people the way that they learn best.
What are your passions outside of work?
I’m an avid Motorcyclist – my Harley Davidson is my pride and joy. I’ve always been active – from racing motocross as a young person to a dedicated runner throughout my entire life. I also love weightlifting, pilates, yoga and TRX. I even swam in the junior Olympics! To me, health is spiritual, emotional and physical – mind, body and spirit. In the little spare time that I have, I’m also a volunteer at a maximum security prison. It’s important to me to give hope to people who are incarcerated. I’m also a Devils, Giants, Yankees, and Nets superfan. I’ve been a season ticket holder of the Devils since the ’80s!
What is the best advice you’ve been given in your career?
One of her leaders at Aetna – you can run the Hartford marathon at lunchtime as long as the customers are happy and the work is done. Work-life balance is incredibly important. He said “If it isn’t life threatening then don’t worry about it” and I’ve brought that philosophy to every position I’ve held.
What are you most looking forward to, personally and professionally, in 2023?
Digital transformation at PVH is top of mind for me. My goal is to move our leadership away from waterfall and towards scaled agile framework enterprise and kanban boards. I feel strongly that their monolithic process is detrimental to growth. I’m hoping to take PVH’s IT strategy to the next level and continue the digital transformation through sophisticating our IT and DevSecOps stack. On a personal level, I’m looking forward to seeing how many more people that I can help. It’s also my goal to be able to run a 6 minute mile again!