Yolanda Conyers shares career updates since her 2018 cover story and how she’s fighting for diversity and equity in STEM.
Photo by Laura Reed
This month, like countless other small businesses and local companies, Austin Woman was faced with the financial ripples of COVID-19. A May issue was no longer a guarantee—without some help. Our founder, Melinda Garvey, turned to the women who have always been our loudest and best cheerleaders: our former cover women. She asked if they would lean in and support us, so in turn we can continue to support all Austin women. The responses were immediate and humbling.
Yolanda Conyers, chief diversity officer at Lenovo, president of the Lenovo Foundation, Vice President of the global human resources, and a 2018 cover woman, was one of the many women who leaned in. We’re so grateful for her support and we hope as she supported us, you will support her. We asked Acevedo what she’s been doing since her cover story and how she’s leading the charge for gender equity in STEM.
Austin Woman: Your Austin Woman cover story followed your Lenovo journey as the vice president of global human resources and chief diversity officer. What have been some career highlights since your 2018 cover?
Yolanda Conyers: In the fall of 2018, I also added a new role to my resume as the president of the Lenovo Foundation, our philanthropic arm. The Foundation really aligns with our vision of providing smarter technology for all and we focus on providing accessibility to technology or STEM education to under-resourced communities around the world. We launched the organization with our Love On campaign where we gave out 16 mini-grants to organizations around the world. To date, we’ve implemented a global volunteer benefit to our employees that led to a record-breaking global month of service, established new partnerships around the world and impacted more than 1 million people around the world through volunteerism and charitable giving.
AW: In your story, you shared the importance of mentorship, especially for women in male-dominated STEM fields. What has been the most impactful thing a mentor has said or done for you, and what advice do you have for women looking for mentors right now?
YC: My high school math teacher, Mr. Lee, recognized my knack for math and science and introduced me to the world of computer science at a formative age. The influence Mr. Lee had on my life was more profound than he probably realized. He took a young, black female and suggested to her that a field like math and science has a place for her in it. His guidance and support led to my eventual lifelong career in the high-tech industry.
Women in search of mentors should think about their long- term goals and try to find a mentor who really ‘lives’ that vision already, and that shouldn’t be limited to strictly professional goals. For example, if the next step in your career is to move into a vice president spot, but your goals for yourself include maintaining a great work-life balance, go find a VP who’s rocking the working-mom or working-dad life and talk to them about their journey, the challenges they face and how they get it all done. Glean insights from people who inspire you and whose achievements you would want for yourself.
AW: How can Austinites support you and the women in your community right now?
YC: I am a Christian, so I’ve been turning to prayer a lot in these uncertain times. We need prayers for each other for strength to endure during this COVID-19 pandemic, and we also need to become allies for each other. Women are often looked to as caregivers, but we have to encourage each other to practice self- care as well and give each other grace and space to look after ourselves in order to better take care of our loved ones and the community around us.
WHAT’S BEEN ON YOUR READING LIST OR NETFLIX QUEUE DURING QUARANTINE?
I recently joined a book club at the beginning of the year with my girlfriends. We just finished reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and we’re now on The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory.
Read more stories of our former cover women who joined our Lean In campaign.