Ep 43: Loretta Yakima: Queen of Multitasking

Diva Tech Talk was happy to interview Loretta Yakima, a multi-talented tech industry veteran, currently a senior project manager under contract at ZF TRW (www.zf.com ), simultaneously working as a consultant with Chrysalis Global Consulting (http://www.chrysalisglobal.com). Loretta credits her parents, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, for all facets of her success. “They grounded me so much,” she said.

Loretta’s love for technology dated from her Michigan public high school’s career preparation center where she enrolled in a data processing class. “It was like learning a new language,” she said, “It was new and exciting.”  There she discovered that “technology was my thing. I am so grateful! My life was, forever, changed” because of the center.  She learned how to code software in both RPG and Cobol, “two of the toughest languages” to master. With her programming proficiency, Loretta could apply advanced credits to her college degree, and was also offered a scholarship to a nearby business school, after graduation.  Loretta then matriculated to Oakland University, in Rochester, Michigan where she majored in Economics, with a minor in Management Information Systems, while she also worked fulltime.  When she was a sophomore, she worked for a small consulting company, implementing “Y2K” code changes; and as a junior was hired to work, for the next two years, in information technology for Tier One automotive supplier, Lear Corporation (www.lear.com).  Later, Loretta would go on to get her MBA from Walsh College in 2009. 

After graduating Oakland University, Loretta became a programmer/business analyst at dramatically growing Pulte Corporation (www.pulte.com), a U.S.-based home-building company. At Pulte, Loretta grew as the company did.  She developed a proficiency in ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, and then developed a wide variety of Web-based applications. In her role, she supported every operation inside the company.  “I got to understand sales, and finance, and the customer service side,” Loretta said.   It was a “wonderful way to understand the true, full operations of a company and build ‘cool’ software!”  She had the chance to develop a device-independent mobile application for construction field managers, for example, long before applications like that were being commercially sold. Loretta then evolved into a project management role, where “we didn’t just focus on IT, but we really were engrained in the process side of things.” At Pulte, as the recession hit, she worked on “how to change our business processes to become more efficient.” One noteworthy project completely changed construction processes. Internal information technology was “embraced by our business team,” said Loretta, “and we were truly partners in helping them achieve both process innovation, and IT innovation.”   She moved from information technology, a few years later, and “hopped the fence” to Pulte’s finance department where she then managed the national purchasing shared services group, a total of 65 people, who managed the administration of all labor and materials contracts for the company.

A key lesson that Loretta learned from her 15 years at Pulte was the importance of strong partnership between the information technology group and the rest of the business. “Truly understanding what was going to make the company most successful,” was a hallmark of her career there.   She benefited from strong leadership training, and particularly from training based on Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (http://www.franklincovey.com/leadership/7-habits.php), which was taught throughout the company.  

When Pulte moved to Atlanta, Georgia, Loretta chose to remain in Michigan; and spent the summer of 2015 re-evaluating her options.   In the fall, she moved to a part-time role as a solutions architect, building customer applications for Detroit-based Digerati (http://digerati.co/), a company working in process improvement, software development and technology integration for a variety of regional businesses.    From Digerati, Loretta moved over to Chrysalis Global Consulting, a company that specializes in change management and project management. Under the Chrysalis aegis, she landed her contract role at ZF TRW, a global automotive supplier. “My role is with the financial systems group.   We are figuring out how to merge all the finance systems between ZF and TRW. It’s huge, and it’s exciting and it’s fun.” Loretta is working with systems at 150 plants around the world.

Loretta would catalogue her personal strengths as:

·      Being a good listener and diagnostician

·      Being a hard worker (a quality which she attributes to her parents’ training)

·      Being empathetic (“You really have to put yourself in other people’s shoes sometimes.  Particularly in IT,” she said.)

·      Being a skilled multitasker (“I love being busy.  I love having a lot of things going on.”)

Speaking of multitasking, Loretta relies on her technology tools heavily.   “I do all my shopping online,” as one example. And she relies heavily on her spouse who shares many of her “life tasks.”   To accomplish everything well and achieve balance, Loretta said: “You must stay positive, and learn to smile,” in any situation.

Loretta’s three main leadership lessons for other women and girls are:

·      Don’t be afraid.  Try technology out. “It’s not rocket science; don’t be afraid of it.”

·      Know yourself and what is uniquely important to you, personally.  “Think about, truly, what drives you, and is rewarding to you.”

·      Learn how to network.  “It is so important to find role models, and other people to bounce ideas off.”

Loretta also has a vision for her next, big personal mission.   She would like to be involved with a company or an educational institution that “has enough financial backing to get started with students early on. I think back to the high school technology program in which I was involved.  I would love to build more programs like that, because I think it’s so important --- especially for girls.” Loretta said. “We know we have a problem, especially here in Michigan with finding students, going into technology.”  She is currently uncertain of the granular details of this upcoming mission but feels that “there is something like that in my future.”

Please feel free to contact Loretta Yakima at her personal email address: rettayakima@gmail.com.   Her Twitter handle is @lyakima. 

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Diva Tech Talk Team

Podcast Divas