Name: Silvana Torik
At 20 years old, Silvana Torik started her high-tech career. Participating in a fast-moving, innovative, and cutting-edge industry provided Silvana with a variety of positions and experiences in hardware and software businesses, product and support services, marketing, product management, and customer experience at Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies, and VMware. Currently, she is Senior Director for the VMware Global Support Operations team with responsibility for support readiness for major/minor product launches and partner management.
Silvana also supports VMinclusion and the VMware Foundation. She co-leads a “Power of Difference” community focused on enabling women to excel as courageous and authentic leaders. Silvana works with the VMware Foundation’s Good Gigs program whereby employees can apply professional skills for social service and global impact.
Silvana has a BS in Business Administration from San Jose State University and completed the Executive Development Program at The Wharton School of Business.
Outside of work, Silvana served on the Board of Directors for the Support Network for Battered Women and currently supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She has completed several endurance events, including the Ironman triathlon. She is the mother of 2 with 3 grandchildren and the stepmother to 6 more and 13 additional grandchildren.
The interview questions that I asked Silvana are new. They are the result of the survey that I published. Thanks to everyone that responded. Here is the blog post with the results.
What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?
It didn’t take Silvana long to get into the meat of what is important. First, she talked about being prepared. “I always prepare ahead of time for an interview for the things that I’m looking for whether it’s attributes, skill sets or experience.”
She then got into what is really important to her. She sees “fit for the role” as the most important aspect of hiring someone. This to her is more important than the skills or technical fit for the job. “In the end does this feel like the right fit for the role that I have open.” “Are they going to be a fit for the team, are we going to be able to work together, and will they be able to contribute?”
Who was your most effective boss, and what made him or her stand out?
When I asked this question, Silvana got a smile on her face. It is clear that one manager stood out above the rest for her. Here is how she described her manager’s amazing combination of strengths. “It was through a combination of personal strength, personal conviction, all anchored in integrity.”
On top of those strengths, she operated in a way that resulted in a very supportive relationship. “Because there was transparency and integrity in the working relationship, I was able to advocate and champion for her and she would do the same for me.”
You could hear in Silvana’s comments how much of an impact this manager had on her at work and in her personal life. They ended up becoming friends – a relationship that is still in place today.
What was the most difficult transition that you made in your career?
The transition that Silvana described was one where her position went away – even though she was meeting and exceeding all of the success measures for the job. This was unexpected and devastating. She was not left without a job, as they offered her one of two options, but neither was what she wanted or expected given how she had been operating.
Showing her character, Silvana did not blame her management. “Sometimes the management team’s hands are tied. And there’s nothing that can really be done to resolve or rectify a particular situation.”
What happened next was a testament to the relationships that Silvana had built, her work ethic, and her ability to meet or exceed expectations.“One of the leaders that I was working with who was surprised by what happened created a job for me and said just take this job. She told Silvana to “use it as an anchor for now and take the time to figure out what’s next.”
How do you approach helping someone with their career development or path?
This was another question that brought a big smile to Silvana’s face. It is clear that she really enjoys helping others, but only when they are ready to be helped. “It’s really about – is the individual ready, because there are going to be individuals that will come to you for guidance and mentorship or even feedback, but you or they discover they are not ready.”
When they are ready, Silvana will work to build the trust necessary to support their development, while making it clear that the responsibility remains with them. They drive the conversation. “It’s really their responsibility if they want to come back I make myself open whether it’s formal or informal but they own the responsibility of progressing their career. Mentorship is based on building a relationship, building trust, and on having an open conversation throughout that process.”
What tools and tricks do you use to find work-life balance?
This time Silvana made me blush. The number one tool or trick that she uses came from watching me. She said that exercise is key and a good example of where you have to “really protect the calendar.”
She sees that time is important not only for your health but is valuable in bringing clarity to work “I have found value in the clarity that happens in the process of exercise.” “I get very clear on what I need to do to resolve a problem or at least what the next step is to tackle a particular problem.”
She then generalized the comments about exercise. “So for work-life balance, it’s really making sure I protect what brings balance into my life.”
How do you go about building relationships with your peers and other leaders in the company?
Silvana’s answer to this was perfect. “Just through honesty and trust in the work that is getting done.”
She then talked a bit about building relationships with people that are senior to her. She worries that she should not be taking their time. On the other hand, she gives her time to people that are more junior than she is.
Here is how she works through that challenge. “I need to give myself permission to take that person’s time, which is hard for me to do. But I need to because it’s not only for me, it’s for them, for the business and the team.”
How do you find the time to give back and still balance that with your work?
The last question is one that I added just for Silvana. I will do this each time – so that we learn and gain additional insight.
Silvana and I talked about all of the additional things that she does – giving back through volunteerism and participating in diversity and inclusion programs at VMware. Here is how she described finding balance across work, home, and giving back.
“You have to make a conscious decision to serve. One of the things I value working at VMware is that we have a wonderful opportunity to give back. It’s part of the company’s epic values and in the DNA of many of the folks that work at VMware. And prior to that – when I was at HP, it was truly part of the culture. At HP one of the leaders talked about how you can build it into your job because it does affect your job results favorably.”
“I will find the time to do it”
I really hope you enjoyed Silvana’s answers!