Carla Berardi

Running through her mind


Carla Berardi

As I pass beneath trees, the sunlight spatters across my face in patches. I hear my own breath behind the soothing beat of my music. And even though I’m sweating and beginning to feel the burn, I keep my 8-minute pace and remain extremely content. My weekly run keeps me grounded and helps me reset my thoughts for the upcoming week.

Running makes me feel empowered and confident, which I find to be important in my job. Simply put, I protect data. Specifically, my team and I protect the personal data of thousands of ExxonMobil employees from the time they start with the company until they retire.

But, believe it or not, I don’t work out of Houston or Dallas but much farther south, in Buenos Aires, where our HR support center is based. From there I manage a team of 17 people, and we are responsible for protecting sensitive employee data across the Americas and West Africa.

Can you imagine if someone’s date of birth or social security number was hacked and released to the public? It is imperative that I stay fully present for my colleagues and the processes I oversee, as what may be perceived as a small mistake in the grand scheme of things can affect one person’s life in a big way.

I’ve been entrusted by my colleagues to keep their data safe. One way I earn the trust of others and practice returning that trust is by serving as president of the Women’s Interest Network (WIN), a professional growth organization for women. As the leader of this organization I am able to interact with so many coworkers and build trust and comradery by participating in events together.

I’d say the most important accomplishment we’ve made as a group so far is the addition of a mentoring program. That may sound like a standard operating procedure for a career-based group, but in Argentina, mentoring isn’t really part of our culture. People are just more reluctant to ask senior management for guidance and advice—at least, until now. But here at ExxonMobil, we’re trying to change that.

I was worried about how popular the mentoring idea would be, but I know from personal experience that it’s a great way to accelerate your career growth. That’s why we started a pilot program. WIN activities of course are voluntary, and one concern I had was getting people to participate in a new program on top of their day jobs.

It turns out I had nothing to worry about. The pilot a success, and our WIN members have even gone so far as to orchestrate monthly breakfasts with senior leaders, so they can share experiences and seek tips on success. We often have more people sign up for our events than we can fit in the room!

When it comes to being a leader, I think about running. I remember to practice being present and not give up. I always let people know I’m there to support them but that I trust them to do their jobs well. But most important is to always remember how to focus on the situation at hand. That allows me to turn off work when I’m at home, turn off outside distractions when I’m at work, and turn on the heat when I go on my run.