How female mentorship drove my career in tech

Smiling Mature Female Mentor Training Young Interns at Group Office Meeting, Female Mentorship Concept


Discover the transformative power of female mentorship in tech with Deltek's CIO, Ronda Cilsick. From her early coding days influenced by her tech-savvy mom to her role as a tech leader, Ronda shares insights on mentorship's impact. Learn how mentorship programs drive innovation and empower women in male-dominated industries.

As Deltek‘s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Ronda Cilsick is responsible for developing and implementing the technology vision for Deltek worldwide.

female mentorship

In addition, Ronda oversees Deltek’s global facilities operations.

Ronda is a skilled IT executive with over 25 years of experience in Product Engineering, Operations, Project Management, and Consulting. She has held several Vice President positions at Deltek, including VP of IT and VP of Consulting. She has focused on driving change and leading strategic initiatives across the company focusing on solving problems with technology, business intelligence, and process improvement.

Prior to Deltek, she was Director of Engineering PMO at VeriSign, a leading provider of Internet infrastructure services. In this position, Ronda supported the Engineering organization where she focused on high quality and on-time delivery of Versign’s services and products. Before VeriSign, Ronda was the Director of Professional Services at Artesia Technologies – a leader in enterprise Digital Asset Management solutions, and a Technical Manager at James Martin & Co. – a global process consultancy and solutions delivery firm.

Ronda is a graduate of the College of William & Mary, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a minor in Business. She is passionate about continuous learning development and serves as an executive leader for Deltek’s Mentorship program. Additionally, Ronda is the executive sponsor of the Global Green@Deltek Employee Resource Group (ERG) and an active participant in the Women@Deltek ERG and CHIEF – an organization focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders.

I’ve been passionate about technology for as long as I can remember.

In the 1960s, my mom worked at a tech startup while simultaneously teaching computer programming at Georgia State University – she was well ahead of her time! In fact, it was her passion and expertise that inspired me to pursue a career in tech, today leading me to hold the title of Chief Information Officer at Deltek.

During my formative years, I was unaware of the gender divide in the tech industry. Today, men hold three-quarters (74.3%) of tech-related jobs, with less than 10% of tech companies having women represented on the C-suite. These figures have to change, as the imbalance continues to stifle innovation and impede growth.

I am proud to have seen progress with more women joining the tech sector over the course of my career, however, more needs to be done. By candidly sharing my experience, I hope to offer fellow women in the industry insights that can enact meaningful change.

My route into tech  

Before there were computers in classrooms, or even computer classes taught at elementary schools, I was coding at home. Technology was always a big part of my family’s life and it felt normal to code in fourth grade.

As I grew older, two instances stand out where my mom and me disagreed about the classes I should be taking at school. In middle school, she wanted me to take a typing class – which I should mention was on a typewriter! – because she knew it would be a skill I needed early on. The second instance came in high school, when computer programming had just emerged as a new class.

At the time, I didn’t want to take computer programming because it would have meant that I was the only girl in my class. However, fortunately, my mom (who always seems to be right) encouraged me to enroll. Looking back now, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Post high school, I went on to major in Computer Science at college, launching a technology career that continues to this day.

The value of strong female mentors  

I’ve been incredibly fortunate, throughout my life and career, to be supported by positive role models who have inspired me. Starting with my mom, who instilled the belief in me that anything was possible – leading by example through the pursuit of her own successful career in technology.

Then, right after college, I found my second mentor. It was this individual who taught me how to develop my own authentic leadership style. Watching her career develop, I saw first-hand how she didn’t mimic anyone else’s leadership style, instead, created her own. While it took me a little while to follow in her footsteps, when I found my authentic leadership style, I felt like I was able to start owning my career. It gave me massive confidence in my skills, which I don’t know that I would have developed without mentoring.

The importance of inspiring women to pursue careers in tech cannot be overlooked. McKinsey research shows that companies in the top quarter of gender diversity are 39% more likely to achieve financial outperformance versus companies in the bottom quarter – representation isn’t just the right thing to do, it improves business performance. As such, in my position as a female tech leader, I’m really passionate about the value of mentorship in tech, knowing the impact it has had on my career.

It’s this passion that led me to join Deltek’s Mentor Program and the Women@Deltek Employee Resource Group. These programs connect me with fellow women at Deltek, creating long-lasting relationships that offer me unique perspectives on the business. It’s a win/win. The mentorship program helps me leverage conversations to inform our strategic decision making, and the mentee can leverage my experience to build their career in tech.

Get comfortable, being uncomfortable

Reflecting on my journey into tech, I always focus on one inflection point. If I had chosen to ignore my mom’s advice about which courses I should take, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s why I tell fellow women in the industry to not let their own insecurities define what they do. We need to become comfortable, being uncomfortable, as it is this discomfort that ultimately will drive career success and growth.

Mentoring programs give women in tech the space to find that un-comfortability in a safe and secure environment. It gives individuals a set person to go to for questions, to challenge, and to have candid conversations about barriers with. I’d be remiss not to mention that even to this day, when I’m facing new challenges, unease remains. However, decades into the job, I don’t hesitate. I use this discomfort to drive me.

For businesses looking to foster female talent in male-dominated industries, I strongly recommend they consider mentor programs. The benefits are limitless.




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