When Debi Mofford was recently named a finalist for the 2020 Women Tech Awards, it didn’t surprise anyone who knew her given the successful impact she has had, spanning three decades, at WCF Insurance.
Mofford, the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, began her career there as a software developer. She then successfully charted a path to a senior leadership role. This was readily noted by those who administer the Awards, which recognize “the talent, impact, change-agents, innovators and women in technology that work tirelessly to build companies, communities and careers.”
Each finalist was nominated “for their professional accomplishments, personal achievements, business leadership and industry experiences. Within their respective role and organization, each is driving innovation, creating new technologies, impacting technology companies and inspiring the tech community. Judging for the awards was conducted by a panel of technology leaders from throughout the community.”
Given this prestigious honor, we reached out to Mofford, who agreed to an interview.
Question: What are the advantages of spending 29 years at one company?
Answer: It’s easy to lose touch with the industry, so if you stay at one place longer than a few years, you have to find ways to network outside the company with industry peers to stay on top of trends in tech as well as your specific business.
Q: How has male chauvinism changed since you began your career in IT, or has it?
A: To be honest, when I first started in tech, I didn’t notice it much as most of my male coworkers welcomed me and I had great relationships. I have noticed that many women don’t stay in the industry, however, and it has a “geek” stigma that they’re not attracted to, so it has created a more male dominated industry, which can create issues. WTC is helping young girls see the potential in this field so I’m hopeful that this will change in the future. Diversity in all aspects is very powerful. As you move up in leadership, there are also fewer women present so you have to find ways to be heard and network in a male dominated world. I’m very lucky to work for such a great company that supports women.
Q: What will it take to increase the level of participation from women in the IT field?
A: I believe that educating young women and having them act as role models for others will eliminate this problem over time. IT careers are so diverse today, including user experience, a field that’s more creative. WTC is helping get the message out. I think our education system needs to promote and fully understand what tech careers offer to help get the message out.
Q: How would you define enterprise architecture, and how has that definition changed through the years?
A: In my career, this has dramatically changed—from a centralized mainframe, and one programming language, to managing an enterprise that is dynamically changing. My philosophy in this area is to have a strategic vision of where you’re heading, be mindful to minimize legacy systems, and stay a close follower in the tech industry. We are an insurance company and we don’t need to get caught up in the hype cycle. We need to adopt this when early in the slope of enlightenment to follow the Gartner model.
Q: What keeps you up at night as a CIO?
A: The rapid pace of change and demand for technology solutions. We feel like we are the bottleneck for all new features and products. Also, the rapid pace of security and compliance issues, which are ever changing and rapidly growing.
Q: Clearly with your successful track record, you could have transitioned down a different path as a CEO, why didn’t you?
A: For me personally, I made the decision to not throw my hat in to the CEO succession planning because I would like to retire early and not commit to a longer term. I love tech and I’m not sure the CEO position was a desire of mine. I think you are best suited for positions where you heart is really in it.