Women in Technology: Better Together at Engage

Christine CornwellJune 8, 2022

I recently sat down with Lily Cleary, Verint Vice President of Employer Brand, for a Women in Technology Q&A. As an influential change leader in Technology, Lily is not afraid to challenge the status quo. She delivers high-impact programs in complex, matrixed organizations through collaboration, consensus building, and communication. Her passion for technology helps her translate the needs of the business and the people within Verint into sustainable programs to drive organizational and operational evolution.

I am enthusiastic to share her professional journey and insightful perspectives.

Q: Did you ever sit down and plan your career? What drew you into the technology industry?

A: When I was a child (in the 1980s) I wrote a fantasy resume for my adult-self and listed my most recent role as ‘Editor in Chief – British Vogue.’ I pored over my stepmother’s magazines, reading and re-reading every page, writing my own editorial notes alongside the articles. Even then I knew I wanted to use words and pictures to share ideas with large groups of people.

My first real experience of the internet was in my first job in 1997. I was a creative in an ad agency, and the internet felt like one, great, big, magazine with untold options, audiences and opportunities.

What I love about tech is that it just keeps moving—and as it evolves it transforms the world around it.

From wearable medical tech providing diabetics with 24/7 glucose readings, and 3D printing—meaning in the future we might be able to print our own prescription medicine, to social and chat channels that allow us to stay close to our loved ones irrespective of where we are in the world.

Technology is boundless, and being part of that is always exciting, refreshing and invigorating.


Q: Looking back, you’ve likely had mentors who shaped your professional career. Who have been the most memorable mentors and why?

A: I have had several mentors—some formal, some informal, and some paid coaching. Sometimes I learn the most from when I least expect it; someone uses a phrase or states an opinion in an otherwise unremarkable meeting, and it can re-direct my whole understanding of a subject.

The most memorable thing that a mentor has taught me is that people’s ‘perception is their reality.’ I was talking to my then-Managing Director worrying about a client interaction. I was a confident client leader, but this contact just wasn’t happy. I was frustrated and confused—I’d met all the requirements and I just didn’t ‘get it’.

Over time, I’ve come to see how it’s true. Even now, 10 years later, I use that statement to ground my thinking, and sometimes I need to stop working on the ‘reality’ of my own work, or the effort I’m putting in, and step back and understand:

  • What is it that this situation needs from me?
  • Am I asking the right questions?
  • Where should I put my time and effort to have a real impact?

Q: What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

A: Maintain your hunger for new information.

I’m a firm believer that we are all conduits for an inflow and outflow of information.

Most of our working days we’re pushing our outflow: we’re in delivery mode, writing emails, briefing teams, sharing ideas—but we’ve got to give ourselves the space to take in new information.

I like to learn by watching videos, reading articles and books (I still make editorial notes on the pages). Whether the topic is aligned to my role, or broader subjects like 4D printing (not a typo), nonfungible tokens (NFT), quantum computing, or brain-computer interfaces (BCI). As Will Smith once said on a talk show “nothing is wasted, everything is useful” and I believe that every single piece of information provides us with a useful point of reference.

Q: Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in tech? If so, how can these barriers be overcome?

A: Yes, there are still barriers; we only need to see the proportion of female leaders in technology vs. their male counterparts to know that. There are things that we, as female tech leaders can do, but also barriers that need to be broken in the background.

I am passionate about giving other women the space to use their voice, especially more junior members of the team. Providing a supportive and collaborative space to state their opinions and ideas, and vocally back and support them, ensuring that they are recognized for their achievements.

We also need to encourage more young women to enter STEM careers, so I spent time with girls aged 11-14, educating them on the basics of computer programming (not my specialism) and technical program management (much closer to my specialism).

There are life experiences such as periods, pregnancy, birth and menopause that are often shrouded in euphemism and secrecy. Partly because we don’t want to show ‘weakness,’ but much like discussion of mental health, it’s a stigma that we need to work together to break.

One of the things that really impressed me when I first joined Verint was a note that the EMEA HR team sent about menopause and supporting our female workforce. It was an extraordinarily brave message, one that I hadn’t seen in any other company I worked for. Even to me, it felt a little too close to the bone, maybe even shocking … but why should it? It’s a fact of life, and I applaud the bravery of the message. It made me, as a woman in the organization, feel seen, heard and considered.

Q, What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

A: In my early career I worked really, really, hard, in fact probably too hard. I put in thousands of hours of pure grit and graft—I saw effort as the achievement … and that got me to a certain level of experience.

But what tipped the balance for me is finding comfort in being uncomfortable, for example:

  • I am not afraid to say “I don’t know”—there is no implied weakness to not knowing something and it takes confidence to admit when you simply don’t.
  • I’m used to feeling just a tiny bit out of my depth. I’ve fulfilled a range of senior roles in the last 15 years, and I have rarely stepped into a role thinking it would be easy. Being comfortable with that has allowed me the scope to diversify and extend my skills.

But the biggest factor for me is in making connections and building relationships with the people around me, understanding how our competencies complement each other, building upon our strengths, and mitigating our weaknesses as a unit. Winning as a team is 100% more important to me than individual success.

Q: Are you excited to hear from other dynamic Women in Technology as they share their professional journey and insightful perspectives?

A: If you are going to #Engage22, plan to attend #WIT panel. You will hear from WFM whisperer Juanita Coley and leading communications industry analyst Sheila McGee-Smith, along with women executives from Priceline and Stanley Black & Decker. And, bring your questions! This will be an interactive discussion.

More About Lily Cleary: 

Lily has expertise across tech companies and startups, having led client services, sales and technical delivery functions. She has founded award winning companies, and sat on executive leadership teams.

Her greatest passion is communication, sharing ideas, and translating the needs of the business and the people within it into sustainable programs to drive organizational and operational evolution.

Lily currently leads Verint’s Employer Brand function, working across our business to reflect the essence of who we are as an organization into the talent market, and amplify it within our business. Her work is set against a single mission: to make Verint the employer of choice.