Team Deltek’s Ronda Cilsick: How Learning and Development Have Guided Her Journey to CIO
In this month’s #TeamDeltek spotlight, we interviewed Ronda Cilsick, Group VP and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Deltek. A 10-year Deltek veteran, Ronda and her team are focused on enabling the business with technology to drive results, improve productivity and increase efficiency ─ all while trying to keep our employees and customers safe from cyber threats!
During our conversation, Ronda discussed how her passion for learning and development has helped guide her career in a male-dominated industry, and how she applies this passion to help other women in technology develop their own careers.
Ronda, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us. To kick things off, can you tell us about what brought you to Deltek and what you’ve been responsible for in your time here?
When I was searching for a new job back in 2010, I knew I wanted to work for a growing organization where there was support from executive leadership to drive change. After engaging with the Deltek team, it was clear I had found exactly what I was looking for. I initially joined Deltek as the VP of the Enterprise Project Management Office, where I focused on establishing a center of excellence for Project Management, launching Release Management and creating an Acquisition Integration Program and Methodology.
Over the last ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles alongside many different parts of the organization, including Information Technology (IT), Product Management, Engineering and Global Consulting. Throughout my journey, Deltek has offered me unique experiences to learn about the business, which in turn has supported my career growth and prepared me for my current role, where I now lead our IT and Facilities organizations and serve as CIO.
You’ve really been able to grow your technology career at Deltek. What is your biggest challenge as a CIO?
There are so many opportunities to enable the business with technology to drive results, improve productivity, and increase efficiency. Living in the world we live in today, we have to worry about things like cybersecurity threats that we didn't have to worry about in the past.
My biggest challenge as CIO is delivering more value, in a faster way to the business, while balancing keeping the lights on and protecting our employees and customers. We can't do everything, so we have to make sure we prioritize and focus on the highest value things and delivering them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
You certainly have a very important role in how Deltek manages its business. As a women working in technology can you tell us a little bit about how you got into this industry?
As a child growing up in the 1970s, I've been around technology most of my life. I learned first-hand from my mom, she worked for a startup technology company and taught computer programing (she was way ahead of her time!) at Georgia State University.
I started coding at home when I was in the 4th grade ─ before there were computers in classrooms or computer classes in elementary school. As I got older, I distinctly remember getting into two disagreements with my mom about school and the classes she wanted me to take. The first was in middle school, when she made me take a typing class (on a typewriter!) because she knew I needed to learn the skill early on; and the second in high school, when she strongly encouraged me to take computer programming.
At the time computer programming was a new class and I didn't want to take it because I would have been the only girl. Ultimately my mom convinced me to enroll in the course and I’m so thankful she did ─ it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made! In college, I went on to major in Computer Science and have worked in technology ever since.
The technology world has definitely changed a lot since then. As a female CIO, is there anyone in particular that has helped guide you on your journey?
I have been lucky to have a mentor who has helped me through my entire career. I met her at my first job out of college and learned by watching her develop her own technology career. One of the things she taught me was to find my voice and style. It took some time, but once I found my leadership style ─ that was authentic to who I was ─ that’s when I started owning my own career and gaining confidence in my skills.
Having a mentor can help you grow and develop, and being a mentor can also help with your career development. I have been a part of Deltek’s Mentor Program for the last nine years and continue to learn from each mentee that I work with. As a result, I’ve built lasting relationships that have also helped me better understand other organizations and roles across the company.
Having someone you can trust to help you grow and develop is truly valuable. What advice would you give women who are interested in exploring new career opportunities?
I remember early in my career I was offered a Project Lead position, I didn't want to take it because I had never led projects before, but my mentor pushed me to apply for the role knowing it was something that I could learn to do.
What I took away from that experience was not to let my own insecurities of not being 100% qualified define what I do ─ rather use it as a career growth opportunity. So now, when I am faced with new challenges, the uneasiness is still there – but I don't hesitate ─ the discomfort motivates and drives me. The best advice I can give other women as they navigate their careers is to embrace the feeling of discomfort and use it to fuel their ability to drive results and succeed.
In addition to Deltek’s Mentor Program, what other groups at Deltek are you involved with that support leadership and development?
I love leadership development, whether it is my own development or coaching and supporting others. I enjoy learning new things and sharing what I have learned with others. I read a lot of articles, participate in webinars, listen to TED talks, and take LinkedIn Learning courses.
Being a part of Deltek’s leadership development and learning programs is something I am really passionate about and that sincerely energizes me. Over the years, I have been an instructor for LEAP and presented at Deltek Learning Week, I’ve also helped develop content for the Influence and Persuasion, How to Get Things Done, and Business Problem Solving curriculums. And in 2019, I had the pleasure of participating in the first Women@Deltek panel where I spoke on mentoring.
Speaking of Women@Deltek, the group is celebrating International Women’s Day by holding an internal event focused on the IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge. Can you share what this theme means to you?
For me, #ChooseToChallenge means that we can and should choose to support each other and call out gender bias and inequities. I see this support reflected every day in Deltek’s safe and inclusive culture. And because of this, our employees aren’t afraid to speak up and try new things ─ and at times, even fail.
As a woman in technology, I want to support other women in their careers and give back to them the same support I have received in my career journey.
What a great perspective. What is it about Deltek’s unique workplace culture that you appreciate most?
When I am recruiting and talking to candidates, I always get asked about our workplace culture and what I always say is, “I appreciate Deltek's openness to change and continuous desire to strive to get to the next level.”
A great example of this is our Zombie program, launched in 2019, it’s focused on identifying inefficient tools and processes that can be improved to help create efficiencies. It speaks to Deltek’s culture and openness to change, by continuously improving and seeking feedback from everyone in the organization, no matter what level or role. The program demonstrates that everyone's voice is important, which is yet another reason that makes Deltek's culture so great!
Providing opportunities for all employees to contribute is wonderful. When it comes to your career accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
There isn't one thing I am most proud of, but rather, it is more about the impact and change that I have had an opportunity to lead and drive in and across the business.
My passion is enabling change and getting the most out of organizations and people. Whether it is mentoring or coaching, developing my team, an organizational or culture change, process improvement, operational transformation, or driving strategy. I am most proud about seeing the positive results of change and knowing I was a part of it. It is about building a culture that supports and celebrates challenging the status quo in order to continuously improve.
Outside of my own career, I am also very proud of seeing my colleagues succeed and develop in their own ways at Deltek. Because I’ve had so many different roles and worked with a lot of amazing people across the company, it is very fulfilling to look back at all the employees that were on my team throughout the years, grow into new roles and mature in their careers.
Deltek’s culture definitely makes this a great place to work! To wrap things up, we like to ask all our #TeamDeltek interviewees this: Of Deltek’s ten company values, which one resonates most with you and why?
I can’t narrow it down to just one value, so the two values I feel resonate most with me are collaboration and passion. Collaboration is key that unlocks the best in all of us and the best outcomes. At Deltek, it is even stronger because of our people; collaborating as a team, we can drive change, solve problems and support each other. And passion, because it drives me to continuously improve whether it’s processes and business operations, personal development or supporting others in their growth.
Learn more about Deltek’s winning workplace culture and how we are creating a balanced, values-driven workplace powered by collaboration, innovation and authenticity. Read more from the Women@Deltek and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to get the latest on #DeltekProjectNation.
About the Ronda Cilsick
As Deltek's Chief Information Officer (CIO), Ronda Cilsick is responsible for developing and implementing the technology vision for Deltek worldwide. In addition, Ronda oversees Deltek’s global facilities operations. Ronda is a graduate of the College of William & Mary, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Connect with Ronda on LinkedIn.
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