Leadership Stories: Margarete McGrath, a STEM role model, inspires upcoming female talent

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Navigating personal and family challenges, Margarete values mental and physical well-being. She has incorporated her learning into her grounded and inclusive leadership style. As Global Strategic Propositions Lead at Dell Technologies, she builds partnerships that propel innovation, impact the quality of our lives and societal change.

What does leadership mean to you, and how has your approach or style changed over time?

Leadership to me is about doing the right thing even when it might be unpopular. My approach to leadership has changed significantly over recent years. I have become a more balanced and grounded person in my approach to leadership and dealing with conflict. I tend to be more mindful of others when it comes to making decisions. I am more broadminded about what constitutes success both at work and at home. This has helped me focus on the important things such as long-term value in business partnerships, achieving greater balance in my personal life and doing the right thing even when it is viewed as an unpopular thing to do.

As a result, I am more open with team members, colleagues, partners, and clients. I have found that this subtle shift has led to more authentic and meaningful relationships and partnerships which ultimately has been more rewarding and enriching both inside and outside of work.

What have been the biggest challenges and the biggest successes in your life, and what have you learned from them?

A few years back, my husband and I found out that we couldn’t have children after several rounds of IVF. One of my biggest challenges was coming to terms with this and accepting that we wouldn’t be parents. We are a few years on from that now and have adapted our lives around this. On a personal level, it took me much longer than I had anticipated to accept this. I am naturally determined, and I would have done anything to have become a mother at that time, but it wasn’t meant to be.

My learning was that time heals and we can adapt to our circumstances. We figure out a new way once we open ourselves to new pathways for happiness and fulfilment. I am surrounded today by children. I am the eldest of six and have four sisters who have all gone on to have young families. More recently, I have started to place a renewed focus on helping younger women in their careers (particularly in STEM areas). This has been both rewarding and healing for me on many levels.

Another hurdle that I am grappling with right now is that I have aging parents and my father has advanced dementia. Although dementia is hugely common and my Dad has been losing his memory gradually over the past few years, it can be very hard at times. He is physically very healthy at 77 and can’t remember much, but sometimes has lucid moments and knows exactly where things are. The learning for me is to really appreciate every day and to recognise that mental health and well-being are so important. Alzheimer’s runs in my family and I have lost many uncles and aunts to it, so I am mindful of the need to keep a healthy lifestyle and live every day to the full. I am so appreciative of all the carers, healthcare workers and strangers who help those struggling with memory loss.

In terms of successes, I lead our strategic partnerships for Dell Technologies. This means working with major alliance partners and a diverse range of ecosystem players to create new solutions to drive value. I find companies that effectively manage ecosystem business models report benefits to innovation and operational efficiencies both within the organisation and the market.

In building out these partnerships, I leverage a lot of my core consulting background from my time at EY and PwC. We build strong, integrated teams where we integrate technology, corporate finance, change management and organisational change together. Many of these partners come from a rich ecosystem of players including startups, advisory firms, other technology partners and academic institutions. It is these partners and how we work with them that inspires me everyday to do more. The benefits of these ecosystem business models extend far beyond the boundaries of the individual organisation and have the potential to impact entire markets and value chains driving true innovation in traditional sectors.

We have witnessed the value of ecosystems over the past 24 months. Technology has enabled us to adapt with new digital services including digital health, online education and so much more. All these new business models represent a wide range of innovative partnerships that are focused on driving a key outcome to improve society.

What advice do you have for younger women aspiring to leadership roles?

I have some brilliant female mentors who I still cherish today. They have been a source of golden wisdom and encouragement to me on some difficult days. And I am so inspired by the energy, courage, ingenuity and emotional intelligence of some of the young female talent coming through.

My guidance to any young women (and to my younger self) is:

  • Believe in yourself and your capability.
  • Dig deep into your resources when you hit bumpy times.
  • Find your voice even if you feel outnumbered in a room.
  • Surround yourself with diverse thinkers and mentors who will support and guide you.
  • “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, over worrying about things that may never happen won’t get you anywhere.
  • Take care of yourself and strive to get balance where you can.
  • Don’t over pivot to any one area, having a meaningful career is important and this means living your values.
  • Consider what gives you joy and fulfilment as part of your career move, focus on getting these right and the rest will follow.

We figure out a new way once we open ourselves to new pathways for happiness and fulfilment.

Margarete McGrath
Margarete McGrath

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