• Celebrating Women's History Month

To celebrate Women's History Month, we asked our female executives to share who has inspired them, their thoughts on women who came before them in the industry, and advice for women beginning their careers. 

Brittany Miller, Vice President of Construction  

Q: Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
A: I don’t have just one woman who guided my career or life. I grew up with a single mother that worked very hard to ensure I had every opportunity I could, I admire her determination and selflessness. There have been many women in my professional career that have been advocates. The workforce I entered is very different than just 20 years ago but we still have work to do. Everyone before me has made contributions and we should honor that.

Q: What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?
A: I am very grateful for all the women that allowed engineering and construction to be an option for a young girl like myself. I was one of four women in my graduating class with an Engineering degree in Construction. My field is only about 9% females. I was lucky to join Intel because it was a very diverse company with about 50% split between men and women in management. Although I was often the only woman in the room, I didn’t feel I was treated differently or there were limits to my career.

Q: What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
A: I believe you can achieve anything with a strong mindset and determination. It’s important to not let anything stop you; and always remember YOU are your best advocate. Believe in yourself and push through. Speak the truth and learn from people around you.  Find mentors, both men and women, to help you. Also, be a mentor to others. It’s a journey. We all own change to the industry and we all have a part to do.

Denise Hannan, Vice President, General Counsel 

Q: Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
A: In my mind, there is not a single “most influential woman” for people to look to, or be inspired by. Instead, there are amazing, influential women all over our society both at home and at work. For me personally, I have been most influenced by my mother who was born in a tiny town in Louisiana in the 1940s at a time when women were still expected to perform a household role only and get a MRS degree in college. Rather than fall into that mold, she chose to pursue education and work and family. She is fluent in 3 languages, taught foreign language for several years, obtained a law degree and a master’s degree, and eventually held positions in energy and tax law, as well as at the U.S. Trustee’s Office in Louisiana. She certainly led by example in showing me that really I could pursue anything I wanted. I also have been fortunate to have a number of strong mentors since becoming a lawyer who constantly put faith in me and helped me grow in my career.

Q: What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?
A: I feel very fortunate to have entered the legal profession when I did. The women who came before me – including my mother – blazed a path for success for those that followed. Every woman who takes a job and succeeds at it makes it easier for others.

Q: What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
A: Go for it! We are so fortunate to have so many obstacles removed, and you can push through those that remain. The hardest challenge may be trying to balance work and a family. If you enjoy your work, find a way to stick with it so it is there for you when your kids are older. Also, ask for help if you need it and lean on mentors that come your way– there are tons of women out there who have been through it who want to, and can, help. 

Judi Lee, Executive Vice President of Human Resources 

Q: Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
A: Unfortunately, I never really had the opportunity of connecting with a female mentor in the workplace, because there was so few woman in the same field as me. As I was working my way up the career ladder, it was all male management. Working within the IT field, it was even more male dominant at the time. Personally, however, I have always had great admiration for Mother Theresa. I have always respected and valued her commitment to service and helping those in need. Community service has always been a large part of my life, having served on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Food Bank’s Transitional Housing Program, which helps place homeless people in housing. My husband and I also supported the mentorship program there for over 11 years. For those who give back and make their own personal sacrifices to do so, I have tremendous respect.

Q: What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?
A: As a female, if you went to college, there were three careers you were encouraged to choose from. They were becoming a teacher, a nurse, or a librarian. Always having a passion for service, I thought I was going to become a nurse. Through a program with Stanford University, I had an opportunity to attend a summer internship at Stanford Children's Hospital. Shortly into the program, I found out that I did not, in fact, want to be a nurse. I was lucky to have the support to change course and ended up going to school for business. There were very limited numbers of women in my classes and my graduation. Working mothers also underwent an incredible amount of scrutiny at the time. It was best practice to ask women during the interview process if they were a mother. If so, the HR department was not only allowed but encouraged to call the interviewee’s daycare providers and ask personal questions. You were not allowed to take leave to care for children. When I became a mother myself, I decided not to put my family through that scrutiny and stepped away from the work world for 16 years. I do not regret it as it was a wonderful time in my life. I was able to be involved in my children’s schools and dedicated time to being involved in our community. When my youngest was in preschool, I went back to work with the support of my mother for childcare. With this choice, I made a consciousness effort to balance the needs of both my family and work.

​​​​​​​Q: What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
A: Don’t fall into the “traps” that will be presented to you. Keep yourself committed and focused on your job responsibilities and career goals. You must work hard to achieve what you want, and it is incredibly important to have strong ethics, to stay loyal to the work mission, and to be honest. It is these characteristics that will gain you the necessary respect of your fellow colleagues. Know your value and be true to yourself.

Meghan Krafka, Vice President of Finance

Q: Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
A: I would have to say that there are two core females who have influenced me throughout my life. The first is my mother, Adele O’Brien. She was a mother to three when she went back to school to become a CPA, working in public accounting throughout my life. For females, it was a different time back then and being young, I didn’t really realize the struggles. I just remember my dad and my siblings all coming together as a family to support her by picking up additional duties and working as a team. She was an incredible role model and taught me the work ethic I now hold today. She also showed me that you can be successful in the workplace and still be a loving and attentive mother. The second would be my Aunt, Kathleen Ciaramello, who is the Chief Customer Officer at Coca-Cola. I have watched her work her way up to this position over the years and am incredibly proud of the accomplishments she has made with such a high-profile organization.

Q: What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?
A: I am projecting with this answer, as I did not go through their journey. However, I think in the past, it was hard for females as they were put in the position where they had to choose either a career or a family. There were expectations presented that made women think that they couldn’t be successful at both, leading them to give up one for the other.

Q: What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
A:  A lot that I would tell women, I would also tell men. Regardless of gender you must work hard to get the promotion or pay raise that you want. It’s also incredibly important to have a supportive network to help you accomplish and succeed in both your personal and professional goals. Be mindful to carving out separate time for family and work, especially during the pandemic when worlds are colliding. If you don’t separate the two, you are ultimately going to feel like you are failing at both. Regarding the pay discrepancy gap, I think many times men are more comfortable being assertive and asking for something they want. I would tell anyone, and encourage women, to know their worth and not be scared to show it. Collect and present the data points on what you have done for the business and show the value you bring to the organization. This is what will help you get that pay raise and take the next step in your career. Lastly, also remember that the definition of success doesn’t always mean being at the top. Success means being happy and fulfilled with your own work and life choices. These will change throughout the course, but if you are in a place of happiness with where you are, you have succeeded!