Women in Leadership Profiles

Joyce Mullen – Dell: Every Person You Meet Teaches You Something

Joyce Mullen, Vice President of Services/Sales Operations at Dell, had no idea she was going to pursue her MBA after graduating from Brown University with a degree in International Relations. In fact, she laughs, she didn’t even know what an MBA was or how it could help her.

This all changed after she went to work for a small start-up venture. She soon found herself managing more than 40 staff members and realized she had innate talent when it came to managing people and developing business. But she didn’t know how to read a balance sheet or many of the other fundamentals necessary to be successful in business. On she went to Harvard University for her MBA.

Joyce has networked throughout her career. Although she found her first post-MBA position at Cummins Engine Company through an on-campus interview, she networked extensively within the organization and held several director-level positions during her tenure there. Most of her networking was very informal—meeting people while taking part in activities at Cummins, through volunteering, and taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to her. “Every single person you meet teaches you something. This makes you more valuable to your company, to your people, and to your profession,” Joyce says.

After more than nine years at Cummins, a good friend and former colleague suggested Joyce travel to Dell to get to know the company. Joyce believes that this is what her network of contacts and resources is all about, “People who you know, who know you and make suggestions for your career that you might not have thought of.” The friend was right, Joyce loved the culture and people at Dell and moved her family to Austin after she accepted their job offer.

Since joining the Dell team, Joyce served as the co-chair of WISE (Women in Search of Excellence), which is a group developed to empower women within Dell. She was also the co-chair of the Forté Foundation for three years and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Austin chapter March of Dimes.

She finds herself frequently coaching other women in business and sharing her experiences with them. What is the most important thing Joyce wants to convey to other businesswomen? She thinks back to one of the reasons she has been successful. She tells her colleagues to “dig deep” to determine what is really important to each of them. Joyce asks, “What will make you successful? What do you want to learn? This leads to a very individualized definition of success and a discussion of how to build the skill sets that will support this definition.”

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