5 questions with Qualcomm CIO Mary Gendron

A transformational leader explains why IT needs to lead with a business-first mindset.

Mary Gendron, SVP and CIO, Qualcomm

Mary Gendron has had a long successful career as a transformational leader, most recently as Senior VP and CIO of Qualcomm, where she’s inspired a team of 2,000 IT professionals across the globe. Her leadership story is one of courage, confidence, culture-building, and perseverance. She has led complex global organizations and driven proactive business strategies that have consistently generated customer, shareholder, and employee value. Through it all, she says, one of the things she’s most proud of is the opportunity she’s had to make a difference, for customers as well as employees.

Mary is a champion of creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive workplace that empowers employees of all backgrounds. In 2019, she was recognized for her work to empower women in STEM with Athena’s 21st Annual Pinnacle Award in the “Individual in Technology” category. In our conversation for the CIO Whisperers podcast, she explained that she’s an advocate for inclusion not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the necessary thing to do for the business to thrive.

Mary’s also the kind of leader who encourages the tough questions and challenging discussions because she knows that’s how you get to the best decisions. It’s also how you build trust as a leader. As she told me, your credentials will get you the CIO job, but you still must earn your credibility with the team.

Mary and I spent a few minutes after the podcast talking some more about her career journey, her philosophy of business-first leadership and what it means to be an innovative anticipator. What follows is that off-air conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dan Roberts: You’ve built a personal brand for being a business-first leader. What does that mean, and how do you go about doing it?

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