Nancy Avila: Women shouldn’t be afraid to show off strength, skills, and experiences

To celebrate Women’s History Month and the women of the Dallas Region business community, the Dallas Regional Chamber caught up with Nancy Avila, Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Technology Officer for McKesson Corporation, to get her perspective on challenges facing women in business and the things she wants them to know.

Nancy Avila, Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Technology Officer

In 2022, Avila was named CIO/CTO of the Year by D Magazine and recognized for the third consecutive year as one of the top 100 most influential Hispanic leaders in technology by the Hispanic IT Executive Council. She is a member of the DRC’s Board of Directors and is set to serve as the 2024 Board Chair after officially being announced at the DRC’s 2023 Annual Meeting.

What female figures have had the biggest influence on your life? Why do you look up to them?

I draw inspiration from many female leaders, such as Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhart, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each of these inspiring women embodied a remarkable degree of courage and strength in their respective fields. Mother Teresa is renowned for her selfless philanthropy in helping those most in need throughout the world. Amelia Earhart was a remarkable aviator who made history by being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a groundbreaking author whose stories about life growing up on the American frontier have become timeless pieces of children’s literature.

What are the biggest challenges facing women today, and what can employers do to help their female leaders excel professionally?

Women continue to face challenges such as wage gaps, unconscious bias, and the lack of mentors or sponsors that make it difficult for them to advance professionally. To overcome these issues and create a more equitable workplace, employers must lead with culture and implement policies that promote gender equality and ensure equal pay for equal work. Moreover, employers should consider developing sponsorship programs and creating opportunities for women to take on leadership roles in major projects or initiatives. By taking these steps, employers can empower their female leaders and give them the chance to thrive in the workplace.

What is the one piece of advice you wish you received before you started your career? Do you use this advice in mentoring others?

The best advice I ever received was to be yourself and stay true to who you are. It’s essential to take ownership of your strengths, skills, and experiences and not be afraid to show them off. This will give you the confidence to push through any obstacles or criticism you may face and help you to stay true to yourself while achieving success. I also strongly believe in this message and have shared it with many of the people I mentor—encouraging them to be their own unique selves and remain determined in pursuing their goals.

If you could write your autobiography, what would its title be, and why?

The title of my autobiography would be “Show Up and Never Give Up.” This title encapsulates my personal journey of resilience, determination, and courage. I showed up no matter how hard it got and kept going and believing in myself. I chose this title to serve as a reminder for everyone to always keep pushing forward and never throw in the towel on their ambitions.