Beverly Spink Shares About Her 30-Year Road to CIO
According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, only one in seven engineers are female. Beverly Spink is one of them. We met her in February when she was part of a CIO panel at an annual company event. As chief information officer of Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, Ariz., Beverly — or Bev as she prefers to be called — shared advice with teammates on how best to connect with CIOs. This piqued the audience’s interests. As Women’s History Month wraps up, we interviewed Bev to learn more about her experiences for our blog series on females in tech.
Can you take us briefly through the career path that led you to CIO?
I started in computer operations, then took on more responsibility with the infrastructure (network communications and cabling). I remember setting up my first AppleTalk network in the ‘80s and was hooked. My users were so excited, and I loved being the person to make their jobs easier. I’ve always been very service oriented. I truly enjoy providing solutions that help make people’s jobs easier. That has been and still is my motivation.
What advice do you give to women just starting out in the tech profession?
There are so many different technology roles today. Most of my experience came from on-the-job training. I moved to larger organizations about every six years so I could expand my knowledge and experience. I worked hard, volunteered to take on new responsibilities, came in early, stayed late, delivered quality solutions — versus just talking about them — and always provided excellent customer service. Having good solid technical skills is the foundation, but self-motivation and common sense are important, too.
Biggest tech lesson you can share?
There have been so many all-nighters over the years. In summary, spend 80% of the time planning and testing, and 20% implementing. Be prepared to make tough, unpopular decisions if your testing does not deliver the results you expect.
Definition of success in your business?
Delivering solutions that exceed expectations.
What makes an effective CIO?
Good people skills. It’s all about relationships and good communication. Building collaborative teams and trust within your organization is crucial. Partner with the business, ensuring you are at the table when defining your organization’s strategy. Provide solutions, and be creative when necessary. Stay on top of new technology, and understand how others are implementing these new solutions. It’s good to have a point of reference.
What do you wish you’d known 20 years ago?
I wish I knew more about Microsoft. I played softball in Redmond, Wash., against a company called Microsoft. The girls encouraged me to apply, but I didn’t because the pay wasn’t good.
What’s the best part of your job?
My organization’s mission and serving the wonderful people who work for Hospice of the Valley.
Most difficult part of the job?
Security — it is extremely resource and budget intense.
What’s your advice to girls going into STEM?
Intern with a large, progressive company if you can, and study the different roles to see what speaks to you before committing to one area. Be open to learning. Try areas you hadn’t thought of before. Never hesitate asking questions or for help. Find a mentor and seek guidance when faced with difficult situations. There is room for creativity and flexibility in technology. It’s also about problem solving. It’s life-changing.
Three technologies you couldn’t live without?
My smartphone is all I need.
When Bev isn’t overseeing IT direction and operations for Hospice of the Valley, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two dogs, a poodle named Butch, and a Havanese named Gringo. With family living on both coasts, they entertain visitors in the winter and escape the heat in summer. “Head to the beach — any beach will do,” was Bev’s response to her favorite way to relax. She also finds time for her jewelry-making hobby.
If you enjoyed getting to know this local CIO, you can read our other blog posts this month about females in tech — from the past, present and future:
- Honoring Women’s Role in Tech History
- Today’s Working Women in Tech
- Putting Down Roots for Girls in STEM