Meet the WITS Sponsors — Sonya Dore, Comcast Technology Solutions
Comcast is a long-time sponsor of WITS. We are happy to share this interview with Sonya Dore, Vice President, Partner Integration Management at Comcast Technology Solutions.
How did you get into this industry, and why do you stay?
My first job in technology was at a managed hosting start-up in Philadelphia. I led their 24/7 operations team and the NOC. By their nature, start-ups let you wear lots of hats, which fed my natural curiosity and love of learning. I also loved the energy our customers, who ran various businesses, brought into our work lives. I stay because that same energy is still present. We are building products that our customers want, because they drive connection and community, and those are the things that are going to sustain us. I also stay because I want to be part of the change that the next generation is going to require. My generation and the generations before us has tried to achieve gender equality, diversity in the workplace, and creative approaches to support working parents. We’ve had some success, but the generation my kids are a part of — they are real movers and shakers. They expect to be treated fairly. They are growing up accepting all kinds of family paradigms and individual choices. They expect flexibility to manage life flow. I can’t wait to see how they supercharge the workplace and take us to new heights. What I can do is continue to lay the foundation.
What or who inspires you?
My dad inspires me. He went from 5-yr old immigrant to retiree living a full and compassionate life. He’s in his mid-70s now and he still focuses on learning and goal setting. Some of his most interesting travels and achievements have come after he retired from 35 years of STEM education. He rode the Great Divide on a bicycle with a few other like-minded folks, he has learned how to make beautiful bowls out of wood, he studies German and Spanish every day, and he is testing for his 3rd degree black belt in Karate in a few weeks. My dad reminds me that curiosity sustains us, even when the physical body starts to slow down a bit. What’s most important is that you keep learning and doing with other people who share your interests.
Most useful article/book you’ve read / video you have watched in the last month and why?
This is a really tough one. I’m going to cheat and give you a several. In my role as a people leader, creating psychological safety to help our teams do their terrific work together is my main function. The best book I’ve read about creating this culture of high performing teams is Dan Coyle’s The Culture Code. This book literally sits on the night stand because I reread parts of it whenever I need some team building wisdom. If you lead a team of any type, you will learn something from this book.
As far as favorite videos, there are two TEDx talks that I’ve watched again in the last few weeks. Philadelphia native Grace Killelea talks about her ‘Year of No Fear’ which will make you laugh and inspire you at the same time. And then there is my favorite TEDx speaker, Janine Driver. Janine shares her expertise, from years of law enforcement work, in her talk ‘Reading Body Language’. It’s amazing what you can learn from a shoulder shrug.
Favorite thing you have learned or did during quarantine?
We’ve had quite a bit of time at home all together, which can be both amazing and frustrating depending on where we are in that cycle. Since frustration is not fun, we’ve channeled that into two quarantine activities: making interesting food and fostering a few pups in need. My kids have gotten really good at finding weird recipes that they might actually eat. Two favorites include buffalo chicken baked in zucchini boats and lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes by the dozen. We’ve also fostered 4 pups over the course of the last 18 months, which was equal parts awesome and exhausting. It was great for the kids to have the dogs to care for, but it was an extra workload for me that was tough to balance. We are excited for school to be back in session and to be on hiatus from any new dogs for awhile. We’re going to stick to cooking and enjoying some semblance of normalcy for the first time in many months.
When you were a kid what was your dream job?
I was that kid who had no idea what I wanted to do or be. I was surrounded by love and family, but there weren’t many direct examples of careers other than teacher and law enforcement. We would watch The Lawrence Welk Show every Sunday at my grandparents, and I can remember desperately wanting to be a singer. I just wasn’t sure I could sing. I’m still not sure I can really sing, but deep down in there somewhere is a karaoke star. Maybe I should plan some singing lessons someday. That’s what my dad would do.
What has helped you get to where you are, and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?
There is no substitute for hard work. The Orange Theory Fitness folks have a saying “the only difference between tri and triumph is a little ‘umph’”. Know that hard work alone is simply not enough. We are a community, and we need each other to be greater than we could be alone. You have to get involved in something that feeds your passion, that inspires you to be better. Getting involved is how you build an unshakeable network. Just having a coffee or video chat with someone doesn’t make them an advocate for you, or a strong part your network. But planning an event, getting involved, lending a hand, listening, and figuring out how you can help others — these are the seeds for growing your own village and support structure over time. You have to build it before you need it, but it’s never to late to start. Just look at my dad! So if you are struggling, reach out to someone who will offer you a hand up. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask me. Remember, a shared burden is always lighter.
The other thing I feel strongly about — be yourself. It’s way too hard to go through life being what you think other people want you to be. Most of the time you’re wrong about what they want anyhow. Authenticity is the only way to sustain yourself over the long haul. I’m an introvert, though most people who know me find that label amusing. There is nothing I like better than being by myself with a book, a beverage and a breeze. I also love to spend time with people who feed my soul. It’s a balance. As you grow into your career, your life, your dreams — you get to decide how you invest your time and energy. Invest it wisely. It’s a finite resource.