Lori Harmon - Geek Girl Rising
Lori Harmon

Lori Harmon

Vice President, Global Inside Sales


“Three weeks after I was promoted to my first general manager position– my dream job at the time– my 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My priority was clear – my daughter.”

Years in industry? 30

Who or what inspired your career in tech?
When I was a senior in high school, my school offered its first computer science class. For some reason, I had a sense that computers were the future. I took the class and set a goal for myself of going to work for IBM when I graduated college. (I went to Appalachian State University in North Carolina.)  It may have been because IBM had a large plant in Charlotte, and that the people who worked there seemed very successful. My first job out of college was working for IBM.

What’s been your best life or career “hack” ever?
Outrageous organization and diligent delegation. I keep a list a due dates for all activities, breaking large projects into small chunks. At work, I delegate work to the responsible party for the assigned task. At home, I think of creative and fun ways to get my children to help complete the many household tasks while we spend time together.

What’s been your greatest career challenge?
Three weeks after I was promoted to my first general manager position–my dream job at the time– my 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My priority was clear – my daughter. However, I desperately did not want to give up this new position after working so hard to get there. I spoke with the executive management team and they were incredibly supportive. They told me to take the time that I needed to care for my daughter and that they would work out my duties while I was out of the office. My team was incredibly supportive and stepped in to fill in where I could not. I was still working a few hours a day just to keep my sanity and take my mind off the stress of my daughter’s situation. On my first day back in the office I was able to deliver a fantastic presentation, developed by my team, to a potential buyer. Eventually, we sold the business to them at the price we were seeking.

Your biggest career success?
I feel my career has been built on a series of successes rather than just one success. The key for me was figuring out my long-term goal early on and always working towards that goal. That helped me guide my different career moves and allowed me to be bold in asking the companies I worked for to give me new and bigger opportunities.

Who are your role models?
Helena Rubenstein, the cosmetics entrepreneur. Dick Lewis, the former VP of Sales at Network General and a personal mentor. And Audrey Hepburn, actress and ultra independent woman.

If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self?
Always make your own decisions. Don’t make decisions based on others’ desires.

What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work?
Spend time with my 3 children and my life partner, train at the gym, go out with friends and read interesting books

Flats, heels or kicks?

Best career advice book? 
How to Say it for Women by Phyllis Mindell

Who are the women in tech that you most admire?
First, Sheryl Sandberg, for her overall success and then giving back to other women in business. Recently, she became a single mom with the sudden death of her husband. Second, Virginia Rometty. How cool is she to be the first woman CEO of IBM?! This is a trailblazing achievement. Third, Hedy Lamar, for her beauty and brains. She was an Austrian actress and inventor who developed a key communications technology that helped combat the Nazis in World War II. She was also awarded for developing a key component of today’s wireless data systems. I admire her because she was able to successfully pursue two difficult paths – acting and technology — and was successful in both.