CIO of the Year Pamela Arora: We have a 'sacred responsibility'

The HIMSS and CHIME award winner, and chief information officer of Children’s Health in Dallas, on her strengths as a leader, gender inequity in health IT, and what excites her most career-wise.

Children's Health CIO Pamela Arora.

Debbie Rieger is Engagement Partner at Tatum, a Randstad company, a position she has held for more than four years. She has also held interim CIO positions.

She talks with Women in Health IT about gender inequality. how best to negotiate salary and workload, mentoring and workplace challenges. She was vice president, information technology at Catholic Health Initiatives from2001-2008.

In your work, have you experienced being paid less than a male colleague doing the same work? How did you handle it?

Absolutely, more as I moved up in management than when I was staff level. I addressed it with both my Senior Leader and Human Resources. I was asked how I knew, how could I not know!

Are you a good negotiator when it comes to salary, benefits, the position, workload?

I believe I am and that I have gotten much better over time. I do tend to work much harder than my male counterparts and also feel that I have to have less imperfections so I tend to take on more than my share of the work.

What’s your best negotiating tip?

Don’t underestimate your skills or the value that you bring to an organization and sell it to them.

Do you think the healthcare/health IT industries are more prone to disparity between women and men than other industries/sectors - and why?

Yes. I think there is an old guard that seems to keep renewing itself, with the same discrimination for all minorities, not just women.

Have you had a mentor(s) in your career, and how has that benefited you?

I don’t have one mentor but rather I try to learn from each experience I have with a strong leader regardless of gender or race.

Are you yourself a mentor, and what’s the best advice you give?

Yes. Learn what you are good at, work on the skills that you don’t have to improve them by taking on some assignments that require you to focus and believe in yourself. My two sayings are “Set boundaries and when no one is looking- widen the fence” and “Sleep is over rated”!

What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Gaining confidence in myself that I am skilled enough not to have to be perfect all of the time and along with that came the ability to delegate and confirm versus do everything.

What is the best advice you've been given?

Not everyone wants to advance in their job or skills. Some people are very comfortable being the same role player year after year and as a manager you should appreciate that person because you can count on what they know and do well.

What is it like to be the only woman in the room?

I actually have grown to be very comfortable as the only woman in the room and sometimes the only minority but it took years not to feel nervous and that I somehow didn’t belong even though I may have been the most qualified individual in the room.


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