Cecilia Harvey - CEO of Hyve Dynamics (1)Cecilia Harvey is the Chief Executive Officer of Hyve Dynamics. With over 20 years experience in finance and technology, Cecilia is an advocate for responsible technology leadership that seeks to inspire, elevate and disrupt global businesses and communities.

Graduating from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Cecilia Harvey was soon captivated by the energy of Wall Street and the lure of a career in banking. After working her way up in the banking industry, her roles have since included being the COO of Citigroup Markets and Securities Services Technology, and positions with Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and IBM.

Cecilia’s recent achievements include being featured in Forbes Magazine in 2019 as a leading lady in technology, a 2018 WeAreTechWomen TechWomen100 winner. Cecilia is also the founder and chair of Tech Women Today, a professional organisation focused on connecting and advancing women across various areas of technology.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

If you would have told me that I would have a career in technology I would have told you that you were absolutely crazy. For the last 20 years I’ve been working in banking and technology. Today I am the CEO of Hyve Dynamics, a sensor technology company. As a child I l played chairman of the board with my barbie dolls and I was practically attached to my Commodore 128 computer so I guess it was inevitable that I would one day be the CEO of a technology company.

After I graduated from university (Wellesley College) I worked in Fixed Income Derivatives origination at Lehman Brothers in New York.  Although I was on the trading floor, technology was the foundation of capital markets businesses. Trading systems, electronic trading, eCommerce, and data were all critical to the growth of capital markets businesses.  So very early in my career I was learning how to think strategically about technology in order to grow a business. Eventually I moved onto roles at companies where I was managing global banking technology programs.

I’ve held various roles in large organisations that have helped to prepare me for entrepreneurship and understand how to run technology as a business. Being the COO for markets and securities services technology at Citigroup which was a tech organisation of over 8,400 people globally, over 1,000 systems across over 50 sites is an example of previous roles that helped me to understand how to run technology as a business. You are working in a highly regulated environment and need to focus on governance, risk and controls, budget efficiency, and people management.

Also in previous roles, I engaged with various vendors that were often tech companies. Large banks partner with and make strategic investments in technology companies. So in my previous roles I saw the good, the bad and the ugly in regards to tech start-ups and scale ups.  I witnessed strategy, management and client service that worked and did not work in terms of them receiving investment, getting the sale and building strong relationships. I saw the growing pains and challenges of those tech companies.

Eventually I worked directly with tech start-ups and scale-ups. My combination of large corporate and tech start-up experience prepared me to be the CEO of a technology company. So my journey was very unique and that experience was priceless.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never planned my career, I planned my life. I wanted to design a life that I loved and my career was a small component of that life. I created my own definition of success. My definition of success was not according to what the industry or others defined as “success”.

Ultimately whatever job I chose had to align to the type of life I wanted to live or else I knew I would leave that role. So designing a life I love is about being the best version of myself.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

My biggest career challenges started with me and ended with me.  I overcame them by learning how to get out of my own way.  I learned to focus on things I could control and to be accountable for where I went wrong. I had the power to decide if I was going to let various distractions get in my way. Those distractions included fear, doubt, naysayers, toxic work environments and toxic people. These distractions were not the challenges. My ability to tune out these distractions and move forward was the challenge and once I learned this I realised there is no challenge I cannot overcome. It’s not the water surrounding the boat that sinks the ship. It’s the water that gets in that sinks the ship.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Becoming the CEO of Hyve Dynamics has been my biggest career achievement to date. I recognize in this position as a female technology founder I have a responsibility to be a force for change in the technology industry and to be a role model for other women and specifically black women aspiring to have careers in technology.

One of the reasons why I feel so privileged and passionate about being the CEO of Hyve Dynamics is to be leading an organization that is focused on healthcare equality and saving lives though medical remote monitoring.

As a sensor technology company, our sole focus is optimising our patented sensor skin technology and improving the precision of the data that is wirelessly collected in real time from the sensor skin. Hyve’s sensor technology is addressing issues such as the COVID 19 pandemic and making basic medical care accessible to all. Being the CEO of a company that is truly delivering “tech for good” and leveraging this platform to be a force for change has been a significant career achievement.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Iron sharpens Iron. A major factor in achieving success has been having a strong personal and professional support network. I am so blessed to have an amazing family and friends that keep me humble and grounded.  Also professionally I have worked with talented individuals and teams that have helped to keep me sharp.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Overall,  people need to create options for themselves:

  • Have your “Career Emergency Kit” ready: (a) names of 3 headhunters, (b) updated CV, (c) linkedIn Updated, (d) alerts set up for open roles at various career site.
  • Interview even if you are happy with your current role: Interviewing keeps you sharp and allows you to connect with people. You understand what hiring managers are looking for and you keep pace with what is going on in the industry. Also peolpe may remember you for roles that may open in the future.
  • Understand the difference between sponsorship vs. mentorship: Find sponsors that are key decision makers that will refer you for career opportunities.
  • Know Your Worth: What is the salary for someone in your role and with your level of experience? If you are not getting paid the market rate salary, what are you going to do about it?
  • Don’t stay in a bad situation: Go with your instincts. If you feel you are not in a place where you will progress, recognise your power and start exploring your options.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Focus on what you can control and influence. For me the ability to overcome barriers involved me thinking of ways of how I strengthen myself to jump over those barriers or find a way around them.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

  1. Powering Your Pipeline – Build a diverse talent pipeline and provide the pipeline with the right resources and support to prepare them for promotion opportunities and to successfully fill future leadership positions.
  2. Invest in and sponsor female technology founders – Having more female founders will encourage more women to enter the technology industry.
  3. Diversify suppliers –  Support economic inclusion of technology suppliers with diverse leadership. Companies should ensure they are working with suppliers that have diverse leadership.

There is currently on 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

More investment and sponsorship for female technology founders.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Resources for remaining relevant. Reinforcing your network with individuals that can provide knowledge on career opportunities and industry trends. These types of resources keep you relevant and and ready for new career opportunities.

How would you describe what it means to be a tech leader?

For me being a tech leader is about being a force for change and demonstrating responsible leadership. The days of not being accountable for the impact of your technology on the general public are over. The days of being hands off are over. The days of being silent on social issues are over.

This is not just for technology. However because tech is such a fast growing industry and because technology has such an impact on everything we do as individuals, businesses and societies it is important that leaders are responsible in terms of how they evolve their tech and lead their teams.

We can no longer have this naive optimism about technology.  Can your technology be potentially cause harm to the general public. If so what are you doing to mitigate that risk?

Also it terms of leadership,  it’s not just technically and operationallly are you doing the right thing but also socially and environmentally. The same way we push the limits in terms of what our technology can do, we need to push from a social impact perspective in terms of how we as tech leaders can navigate our organisations. With this type of leadership, those are the companies people will want to work at. Those are the companies that clients will want to do business with.  Those are the companies that will lead the industry.