Executive vice president of technology and operations, Raymond James & Associates
Bella Allaire has reached the top of her profession in the 40 years since she immigrated from Ukraine. While glad to have left the former Soviet Union, she acknowledges one advantage she gained from growing up there: professionally speaking, men and women considered themselves equal.
"It's very, very liberating," Ms. Allaire said. "When I arrived here, I had to learn why women had to prove themselves. I never felt that I had to overcompensate. [This attitude] gave me the opportunity to be myself as a professional woman, not a woman professional."
Accordingly, she felt free as a teenager to choose information technology as a career.
Ms. Allaire enjoys the multifaceted aspects of her field, describing it as fast-paced and never boring. She characterizes herself more as a business person than a tech person.
IT is more than just technology, she said, it's leveraging technology to empower the business. The IT staff spends a lot of time with the businesses they support.
How do we get more women into IT?
"It's very challenging, but once women see the role models, that's how you move the pendulum forward," Ms. Allaire said. "I was lucky; I chose my passion early in life."
— Deborah Nason