Three Questions with Senior Manager of IT Financial Systems, Avion Rhoden
As a child growing up in the Caribbean, Avion Rhoden had dreams of becoming a corporate leader in the United States. Following high school, she set off to do just that. With her mind set on earning her MBA and launching a career in IT, and her faith keeping her grounded, she migrated to the U.S.
Her career began at the height of the ’08 financial crisis. Combine that with the challenges of moving to a new country, and she could have been stopped in her tracks. Yet Avion has accomplished an incredible amount of career success.
Today, Avion leads SailPoint’s Financial Systems and Compliance team, a team that manages all of IT’s regulatory and compliance efforts, and provides expert support to the Finance and Accounting teams during system selections, implementations, and external audits.
Even if her career looks a little different from what her 9-year-old self had envisioned, Avion has wisdom for miles to share with other women looking to create their own career paths – all while balancing motherhood in the process! Read our conversation below.
If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
When I became a mom, I decided to pivot to a “less demanding” role because I thought one could not balance a corporate career while being an effective mom. Although a less demanding job meant that I did have more time for my family, it also made it quite difficult to return to the corporate world once my children were a bit older. When I did decide to restart the pursuit of a corporate leadership career, I had to, in some senses, “start over.” In hindsight, I know that a less demanding job is not a requirement for being a great mom and that if I am purposeful with my time, I can do both well.
2020 has been an interesting year. What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past six months?
My greatest discovery is that things do not need to be perfect – perfectly planned, perfectly executed, or perfectly aligned – to be great. I am an ambitious go-getter and lead a team of like-minded individuals. However, the pandemic has caused some of our activities to go less smoothly and less quickly than I generally like. In the past six months, I have become more empathetic, and have learned to be ok with precarious timelines, missed deadlines, no summer travel, and many other COVID related challenges. These days I embrace the fact that we aren’t truly in control of outcomes, I celebrate quick wins, and I focus on supporting and building my team.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a leader in your role?
Time and resource constraints. What would we do if we had the time and resources to do everything? We’d do everything, of course. As a curious and service-oriented leader, I want to eradicate every issue my stakeholders face, and spearhead initiatives to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Since my team supports multiple stakeholder teams across varied departments, there is never a shortage of projects and interesting problems to be solved. Inevitably both time and resources are finite, so instead of addressing every issue presented to us, I select the most prudent initiatives and direct my team’s time toward solving those problems first. Those decisions are not always met with perfect accord as it is not possible to please 100% of people 100% of the time; so although we can’t tackle every problem, by establishing a vision for my team, I can set the stage for both my team and our stakeholders to be successful.