Please Meet: Daphne Jones

This week, we’re revealing our panelists one by one for the 3rd Annual Little Black Dress Night. We want you to get to know our panelists ahead of the event. Today’s reveal is Daphne Jones, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Diagnostic Imaging & Engineering at GE Healthcare.

 

ChiTech: What led you into tech and entrepreneurship?
Daphne Jones: I wanted to work at a top company when I finished college, but I actually didn’t major in tech or computer science. At the time, IBM was one of those top-tier companies and after passing what was known as the DPAT, the data processing aptitude test, I accepted an offer for Sales/Systems Engineering.  So for me, getting into tech was a coincidence.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
At one point, I wanted to be a flight attendant, since my parents were from Jamaica and we’d fly on Air Jamaica all the time. I saw women being in charge of the passengers and also serving them.

How do you translate that value of service into the job you have now?
My mom told me that as I go through life, I must do three things: Learn all I can, earn all I can, and then return all I can.  So at my stage of my career, although I’m a lifelong learner, I seek to return to the company by helping my team become better leaders and produce more value. A part of my job is fulfilling the ultimate expectation of healthcare, which is to help patients feel better, live longer and be healthier.  I serve GE by ensuring we are leaders in our marketplace.

What do you think are the most important qualities of a leader?
First, leaders must have a disruptive vision. Sure, people can build on others’ ideas, but a leader must also drive innovation and disruption.  Next, be a T-shaped leader, which is to say be an expert in something, while at the same time have a breadth of experiences. Finally, ensure your organization is one that delivers valueable outcomes that can be measurable or have a palpable positive impact.  Under your leadership your team has to have made a  difference.

How do you see yourself having an impact on the company in the next two years?
Of particular interest will be helping GE look at the future of work. The world is going digital, and it’s disruptive. I think about how automation, robotics, 3-D printing, really all digital aspects will impact how our employees work and if they’re prepared to work in a digital world. Easily half the jobs that exist today could be highly impacted by automation. I want to see how GE can help workers thrive in these conditions.

Who are some of your heroes or people who have greatly influenced you?
Harriet Tubman. She embodied courage, disruption, change and helping others.  Using what I call the push-and-pull approach. She pushed forward into danger while she was pulling people behind her so they could thrive and win.

My modern inspiration is Elon Musk. He’s what I mean when I say leaders need to have disruptive visions. He leads his organizations to fight for that vision and he brings value to the marketplace that no one has brought to the level of adoption that he has.

When you were in high school, who was your favorite teacher?
My choir director. He was able to unite people who didn’t know  or possibly even like each other, gave us all key parts to play and we made beautiful music happen.

What were you listening to when you were in high school?
Earth Wind and Fire’s “Keep Your Head to the Sky”. In high school, I was a Lassie. We were an elite Scottish dance group and we wore kilts, ruffles and ballet shoes and danced the highland fling. You had to be accepted onto the dance team. When they came to my parent’s house to tell me I “made it”, that song was playing, so it’s always stuck with me, and it also ministers to me when times are tough.

It sounds like the arts are important to you.
They are. It’s odd, I’ve got the left-brain-right-brain thing working. Music, art and things of beauty are great, but at the same time, I love the digital world.

Has that always been the case, that balance?
No, I consider myself a digital immigrant rather than a digital native. I’m naturally drawn to the arts. My mom had me playing the piano since age five and then I played the accordion and organ. I grew up as a preacher’s child, which entailed a lot of music. This was at a time when computers were not mainstream.  When I grew up, we didn’t have color T.V. or remote control.  I didn’t gain that appreciation of tech until I started working at IBM and I became aware of what tech could do for companies and people.

What is your advice for the young ladies of ChiTech?
First, make sure you have balance. My focus is the five ‘F’s’: family, fitness, faith, future and finances. You can’t work so hard you don’t have time for family. You can’t spend so much that your finances aren’t secure. So it’s about balance and knowing that you can ‘have it all’ – just not always at the same time.

Second, in communities of color, including ChiTech, many people don’t expect much of people of color because of stereotypes. I encourage these young ladies to expect much of themselves,  break those stereotypes, and confound the people who don’t expect much of them. You’re not just a pretty face or a color or a gender, you can be anything you want to be.

Third, have courage. That doesn’t mean not being afraid, but being able to look through tough situations and find the value and meaning. Never take your eye off your goal. People will block your way. They are haters, lovers, friends and family, who may be afraid of your vision and may distract you from your dream. Don’t do them, do you. If you keep your eye on your goal, and have courage to persevere, you’ll win in the end. When you achieve a goal, you will look towards the next one—continuing to achieve success will make you successful.

 

About Daphne Jones:

Daphne Jones serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Diagnostic Imaging & Engineering, a $12B segment of $18B GE Healthcare, which provide medical imaging, patient monitoring, new product development and drug discovery– employing over 55,000 people. She is accountable for leading teams that define/execute digital roadmap that will drive process optimization and solution delivery to enable GE Healthcare’s continued leadership in the market. She focuses on the industrial internet, big data and mobility to drive business growth, customer loyalty, and engineering productivity in this critical segment of the GE Healthcare business.

Prior to her role at GE, Daphne served as Officer, SVP and CIO for Hospira, Inc.  a generic pharmaceutical and infusion technology company.  She was accountable for harnessing technology such as SAP, business intelligence, and business process optimization – her team receiving an APQC ‘best practice’ award for driving process centricity into the company – to assist the company in advancing patient wellness via ensuring product availability resulting in global top line growth.

Before Hospira, Jones served as the Worldwide VP of IT and CIO for three Johnson & Johnson companies. She steered the implementation of multi-region SAP solutions, and collaborated with Integrated Hospital Networks in the area of Healthcare IT. As CIO, Jones grew a world class organization, while she and her team executed global IT strategies and IT investment management across the multiple business units.

Before, Jones served in several other IT leadership roles at Johnson & Johnson, and was director of Consulting Services at PSE&G in Newark, New Jersey.  She began her career at IBM in sales and systems engineering leadership positions.

Jones received both her BS and her MBA from Illinois State University.

Daphne currently serves on the board of directors of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.  In 2016, Jones received the ‘Luminary Award’ from the University of West Indies. In April 2014, Jones was honored by being named one of Illinois’ “Most Powerful and Influential Women” by the National Diversity Council.  She was named Computerworld’s Premier 100 CIO in 2012.

Jones and her husband, George M. Jones, reside in WI & NJ, and their four children are graduates of Morehouse College, Villanova University, Harvard University, and Colorado College.

 

 

Learn more about sponsoring a table for your company at the 3rd Annual Little Black Dress Night by contacting Kelly Jones, Executive Director, at kjones@chicagotechacademy.org 

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