This spring, Zieley had the opportunity to interview Rhonda Vetere, President of Data & Analytics at nThrive and former Chief Technology Officer at Estée Lauder. In addition to her professional success, Vetere is a seasoned athlete, competing in Ironmans and marathons around the world, and an advocate for women's empowerment and career advancement, serving on the Board of Directors for Swaay Magazine and George Mason University as well as the Advisory Boards for Miss Fashion Week and Longwood University. To hear Vetere's advice on pursuing a career in tech, her favorite memory while at Estée Lauder, and balancing her professional and athletic endeavors, read on.
Z: During you time as the Chief Technology Officer at Estée Lauder, was there anything about the beauty industry that surprised you?
RV: It surprised me how the world, no matter what gender you are, uses so many of these products on a day to day basis. I was surprised by how innovative the beauty industry is and about how the end consumer makes purchases – it is all about ease of purchase.
Z: Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Estée Lauder?
RV: Touching people’s lives around the world and seeing them grow and be promoted in every different culture.
Z: What do you see as being the top trends in the beauty industry today?
RV: The ease of buying, innovation of products, more start up brands, and trends with natural and organic products.
Z: You recently made moves into the healthcare industry, becoming the President of Data & Analytics at nThrive. What excites you the most about your new position?
RV: Making a difference in the world through health and fitness by utilizing technology.
Z: When did your passion for fitness begin?
RV: My inspirational backstory is being a self made person. My mom instilled in me early on to work hard, reach for the stars, and that anything is possible once you put your mind to it. I started working at the age of 12, nothing was handed to me and I wouldn't change a thing since that has taught me to be risk resilient and focus on the end game. My competitive side came out in sports — swimming, gymnastics, diving, cheerleading, volleyball, softball, skiing, scuba diving, cliff diving, etc. Since I am a sports fanatic, one day, my dream job is to manage an NFL Football Team to show that women can do it! Results speak for themselves on and off the field.
Z: Has there ever been a time when it has been challenging to juggle your athletic endeavors with your career? If so, how did you strike a balance?
RV: There have been challenges, however, I prioritize and make sure I do what I need to stay healthy. If I am not rested and if I do not take time for myself, then I will not be as effective in my role. To strike a balance, I set time aside to train, typically an hour a day, and longer sessions on vacations or the weekends. Sometimes it is getting off a plane at 3AM and going straight to the hotel gym to fit in a solid workout, but it allows me to clear my head.
Z: What inspires you to continue training?
RV: My theory is that an individual's personal wellness must be a top priority in order to achieve one's major corporate goals. As a competitive athlete and avid runner dedicated to a strict fitness and nutrition regime, I participate in ongoing marathons and Ironman competitions across the globe. I have completed five half marathons this year as well as the St. George Ironman – these help me stay focused. I attribute many of my most prized leadership qualities, including motivation, perseverance and a stellar ability to navigate the daily struggle of balance, to an active and healthy lifestyle that is the impetus for day-to-day accomplishments. Training gives me a sense of fulfillment, and I also do much of my business strategizing while working out.
Z: Is there a competition you are currently training for?
RV: I just completed for 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 St. George on 5/5/18, which is the USA Pro Championship race. I actually challenged a handful of folks on my team to join me in this race. The Ironman St. George in Utah features a swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir, while the bike and run stretch out across the rough terrain in and around St. George. Highlights include Snow Canyon and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, regions that are known for dramatic weather changes in a matter of minutes. It is considered to be one of the top ten toughest Ironmans in the world! I completed the Ironman and then hopped on the red-eye to make it back for work. My next Ironman is in Lake Placid, NY and then Atlantic City.
Z: In addition to your athletic endeavors, you are very active in terms of community engagement. Would you be willing to share a little bit your work in this area?
RV: I bring goodness to the world by giving back to the USA Olympic Team as a trustee and believe in helping place athletes in the business world after their career in the Olympics. I mentor folks around the world and industry to help them in their career. Along with adopting orphans in India-- we as a global team go there twice a year and give money and make a day of donating our time to help out with the little ones. I also made a trip to Africa last week, and was so moved that in October, I am going back to speak about women’s empowerment for the school children in Africa. In addition, believe in helping college students make their curriculum choices and on two Advisory Boards for colleges. I am on the Advisory Board for Miss Fashion Week. Miss Fashion Week is the first organization that bridges modeling with pageantry. We are also the very first organization that truly embraces diversity. Miss Fashion Week crowns in five categories including petite, plus, runway, teen and international. Miss Fashion Week offers everyone a platform to pursue their passion and promotes positive self-image, self-love and self-confidence. I also spend time mentoring women globally, and I am passionate about women supporting other women and lifting them up. STEM is a huge passion of mine. I want to encourage girls and women to find careers in this space because there is so much opportunity.
Z: With all of the success you’ve experienced, what is one piece of advice you’d give women pursuing a career in tech?
RV: I would say to set boundaries, work hard, and love what you do. It is so important to be passionate and invested in your own success.