To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Information Age is publishing a special series, Women in IT Leadership. We speak with 15 women in various tech roles across Australia about how they got their start in the IT industry, their approach to leadership, and how to encourage more females into technology careers.
Today we speak with Jane Livesy, CEO for Cognizant ANZ.
A curiosity to immerse herself in different cultures combined with a strong work ethic have taken Jane Livesey around the world.
“From a young age, I’ve always been really interested in the world and different cultures.”
For the New Zealand-born technology leader, now Cognizant CEO for ANZ, living and working all over the world is about discovery, something she now shares with her husband and children.
“We travel as a family and take our children to different countries.”
It’s her upbringing that instilled in her the value of applying yourself to things.
“I grew up in a working-class family, and from a young age we were helping our parents. I had my first job at 14 and worked through school and university. For me, it's always been about achieving things and contributing, and a work ethic is something that was ingrained in me from a young age.”
An interest in others and passion for making things happen is now very much part of her DNA as a leader.
“I love seeing other people achieve things. I've had incredible opportunities to lead amazing people and nothing excites me more than watching people be able to live their aspirations, grow their careers and have pride in what they're doing.”
It’s also understanding the importance of acting as a role model, both in her own family and in her professional sphere.
“A big part of that for me, although it wasn't the reason I got into technology, is the opportunity to be a role model. I've got young daughters, who are my biggest cheerleaders, and I came into technology at a time when there weren't a lot of women, and that opportunity to really be a leader and to actually show other women that there are incredible careers in technology is something that I'm incredibly passionate about.
“We really need the diversity of thought that comes from having a diverse team.”
Never losing sight of people
For Jane, working with technology is about improving processes and systems to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
“It’s a dynamic environment and the thing I love most is when we're working with technology to solve some really important problems. I’ve had the benefit throughout my career to work on child protection and reporting, disability case management and during the pandemic it’s been vaccinations and contact tracing,”
IT started in a first job out of university at a New Zealand healthcare company.
“I worked on a really interesting program that was about achieving better health outcomes for patients and the community.
‘And it was that that sparked my interest in data and technology because we were trying to join the dots between different pieces of information.
“I took this leap into building and deploying technology.”
From there, her course was set, with many different roles to follow.
“That’s what excites me because I think we get this incredible opportunity to have a huge impact.
“I love the fact that it's constantly changing and every day we're dealing with new innovations and different problems to solve, but also different technologies and different ways of solving things.”
Wear the pink jacket with pride
Jane believes it’s important to anchor yourself in who you are, what your strengths are and what you bring to a leadership role.
“I think if you wake up in the morning and you are needing to play a role of somebody you're not, I think any job would be difficult in that circumstance.”
It’s why her advice to women entering the industry is simple.
“Build your network of people who are going to give you great advice, cheer you on and tap you on the shoulder when it’s time to think about taking on a new role."
It’s the importance of owning your own authenticity.
"I remember standing up at an International Women's Day event wearing a very bright pink jacket and saying: ‘I'm not going to dress as a masculine leader’. I’m feminine and proud of being feminine and the traits that being a woman brings to being a leader.”
As the woman and the leader of today, Jane credits a grounded, down-to-earth early life with standing her in good stead.
“I'm always deeply connected to home and my roots and I think that's very much shaped who I am as a person.
“Growing up in New Zealand – it was an inclusive culture and community, so for me it's always important to be self-aware and authentic.”