meet delia grenville
Pathfinding and Innovation Director, Global Software Enabling, Software Services Group at Intel
A visionary technologist by day, Delia is also a published author and public speaker, often focusing on topics of project management, research practices, user experience and diversity in the workplace. Involved in the community and external business world, Delia co-founded Designing Me, an organization that steers professional women into executive and leadership positions. Her Got Strategy workshop assists junior and mid-level professionals in setting and executing a career strategy.
How did you find out about PDXWIT?
I found out about PDXWIT through Facebook. Social Media is pervasive form of communication!
Can you give us some background on your decision to pursue a technical career?
When an alumna came to high school in Grade 9 (I’m Canadian), I was inspired and relieved to find out that there was something else that you could do with Math and Science since I didn’t like blood. I was intrigued you could be something other than a medical doctor. I stuck with that idea and went to University for Mechanical Engineering. I wasn’t ready for the rigorous study and had a host of hiccups and a transcript the first year that looked like alphabet soup. It was both humbling and developmental. I learned a lot about myself getting through my degree. It wasn’t easy for me, but I found a way to make it work for me, and then it became easy as I did it “my way.” That was the biggest life lesson. With grit, tenacity, a bit of luck, good friends and classmates, throwing caution to the wind, and a sense of humor, I could find my way to look at engineering and make it more than doable and actually intriguing. My career has emerged to be what my honors advisor saw in me in undergrad. My undergrad thesis was for the solar lab. I was studying thermistor-based flow meters. He pointed out to me that one grad student was checking my numbers, the other was doing calculations, he had just come back from research a paper on my behalf, the glass blower had delivered a specialized pipe, and everyone was willing and happy. He said, “Delia, look around, you are a very good manager.” I was a bit saddened afterward when the inner voice started chomping away at me. But, decades later, I get it! What a gift to have to see how all the pieces fit together, to find the right resources, and to make everyone feel of value when collaborating. We all say, "if only someone had told me when I was younger." But, the truth is, you have to be ready to hear it.
How have you helped contribute to the role of women in technology?
When I went to school, I was one of seven women in a class of 63 mechanical engineers, and the program just hired their first female professor. The '80s were full of these "firsts." Fast forward decades, and we're still experiencing "firsts." Especially, looking at the percentage of ethnic women involved in tech. I wasn’t oblivious to the significance of the low numbers then nor to the meaning of those "firsts." The major difference is I didn’t feel burdened by the events back then, being more hopeful. I was optimistic, thinking the world would right itself at the turn of the century. We are almost two decades into it, and equality is still only scratching the surface. For me, part of the solution is how I contribute. My brand of living is a constant contribution. Having open dialog about touchy subjects is part of my specialty area. The other aspect is realizing that the current headline where we have turned our attention might be low hanging fruit. What’s the next layer? We know how to do collectives, create movements, and drive change. We have had individual journeys of awareness. But, the devil is in timing. Not every culture and society is ready for this deep change, which is why these thoughts and actions are so globally meaningful. We need to develop an effective blueprint that allows them to avoid the potholes while moving to a better Earth experience for everyone. This is hard work. Most of us get so focused on our personal deliverables, achievements, failures, that we forget as women our biggest contribution is “showing up.” Holding the door open for others to follow. My mentees are always shocked when I say that all we are expecting of you right now is to step into the responsibility that the universe conspired for you to be here and achieve this opportunity so that others (women) my stand on your shoulders. There’s usually a minute of silence as they take it in.