How do you move a large data center when you're in the midst of laying off 15% of the IT workforce? Mary Patry faced that challenge last year at the American Red Cross, where she was vice president of IT transformation. Budget woes and a management shake-up left Patry, 52, with an upset and diminished workforce, an incomplete migration plan, an insufficient budget for the move, and an unrealistic deadline that couldn't budge because the building was literally being sold out from under them. "[The transition] was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my career," she says.
Patry, who recently took a position at MedImmune LLC, says she spent a tremendous amount of time keeping workers focused on the task at hand and helping them maintain their pride in their jobs, while rethinking workloads. To keep morale up, she spent time listening and trying to help employees who were leaving make the transition. "Sometimes people just need to know that someone is listening and someone cares," she says.
"Mary played a key role in terms of helping the team work through problems and learn from mistakes," says CIO Mark Weischedel. He says she brings integrity, humility, empathy and compassion to the job.
"The key is getting the answers and building a relationship of trust and commitment and integrity with your team." Patry says. "If they can trust you and you trust them, you can move mountains."