Dell EMC’s VP and General Manager Aisling Keegan discusses how 'opening her kimono' helped her to progress her career in IT.
At a recent Women in IT event in Cork, hosted by the IT@Cork group, my colleague Marguerite Maher and I had the pleasure of listening to Dell EMC’s VP and General Manager Aisling Keegan give us an insight into her successful career spanning 17 years with one of the largest technology companies across the globe.
With the number of women working in the IT industry slowly on the rise, it was inspirational to attend such an event hosted by a predominantly female IT group - the recent appointment of Caroline O’Driscoll as Chairperson of the IT@Cork group has resulted in a 75% female board, an astounding figure for the Cork group.
Surrounded by almost 100 women working across Cork in the IT industry, Aisling Keegan gave a very personal insight into her career, and the events that have fuelled her rise to her position today.
Starting her career in New York Aisling spent four years with a technology company before joining Dell as a senior manager in the UK. Always feeling like a bit of a ‘fraud’ in her role, Aisling didn’t feel that she became really good at her job until more recent years, when personal circumstances encouraged her to open up to her staff and share with them difficulties she had been facing not only in her personal life, but as a team lead and manager.
It was simple, to excel in her role, Aisling just needed to open her kimono.
Investopedia defines this as: To reveal what is being planned or to share important information freely. Similar to ''open the books'' or an "open door policy," opening the kimono means revealing the inner workings of a project or company to an outside party. Also referred to as "open (up) one's kimono
As a woman working in a predominantly male industry, Aisling always felt it was key to hold her emotions and not to let them interfere with her work as it would be perceived as a sign of weakness. However, it was only when she finally opened up to her team and colleagues that she really began to excel as a leader.
By opening her kimono – really laying everything on the table and being an open book, it was possible to engage with colleagues on a different level - they could understand Aisling as a person, and see her as more than a manager. This type of relationship encouraged the team environment to flourish, resulting in work being done by a team not just because they had to, but because they wanted to, meaning overall success for Aisling as a manager, and her team on a performance level.
If you are in a senior position, male or female, and are experiencing difficulty connecting with your team, maybe it’s time you opened your kimono to see if you can achieve similar success.