On the Importance of Role Models, Confidence, and Constantly Learning
To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, Inspirage, Part of Accenture is highlighting women in the technology industry in general and at Inspirage in particular.
This week we continue our series profiling the women of Inspirage, Part of Accenture, by sitting down with Inspirage’s Martha Conlee, Director of Finance Operations. We talked about her unique career trajectory, lessons learned in life, and how she nurtures her competitive and adventurous side when she is away from the office. Here’s what she had to say…
What drew you to the technology industry?
Martha Conlee (MC): I started far from technology with a job in the sports/personal training industry. After a year of working in that field, I realized it was not what I wanted to turn into a career. I then had an opportunity to join Kraft Foods in an entry-level marketing role, which was my first taste of the business and technology world. I spent the next 12 years on the functional side of technology with various positions in Marketing, Finance (FP&A), and Demand Planning. I also went back to school to earn my MBA during that time.
In 2010, my husband started a technology consulting company and needed my finance background to help with back-office management. I assisted part-time, but within six months, we realized the business required my full-time attention. I decided to quit my comfortable corporate job for a technology start-up.
In 2020, after ten years of running our business as an Oracle Partner in the Enterprise Performance Management and Business Intelligence space, we were acquired by Inspirage. Since then, I have continued to work in a finance operations capacity and have enjoyed being part of the technology space. My role allows me to interact with teams across every practice at Inspirage.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have faced as a woman in the workplace?
MC: My greatest challenge was not having role models at an early age. You cannot be what you cannot see. Fortunately, I met some incredible women early in my career, many of whom held leadership positions at my companies. I saw women leading across organizations. Because of these experiences, it was easier for me to do the same and feel like I belonged.
What is the most important professional lesson you have learned since you began your career?
MC: The most important lesson for me has been that of continuous improvement. I strive to avoid stagnation and never stop learning. I am a firm believer that there is always room for improvement. I pride myself on adapting, learning from others, and being open to change. As the saying goes, “If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.”
Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of working in the tech world?
MC: Aside from attending and watching my sons (ages 16 and 14) excel at various sporting activities; I enjoy competing in Spartan races across the United States. These races have provided an excellent outlet for my adventurous and competitive side. They keep me physically and mentally challenged and allow me to participate in an active community with like-minded people. What our bodies can do is incredible if we push the limits a little each day! I also love camping, biking, and any outdoor adventure.
What are you most proud of?
MC: I am most proud of how far I have come from where I started. I grew up on a small farm in rural Indiana. My high school had less than 400 students. The county where I grew up is the only county in the state with no stop light! I was one of four kids with three brothers. We didn’t have much, and we had to work hard for everything we did have. Every penny was counted, and there was no room for extras.
After high school, I attended Purdue University and was the first in my extended family to graduate from college. I was enjoying a rewarding career in corporate America when I decided to take another chance. With two young children at home, I went from a steady, low-risk job to a high-risk new business with my husband. Together we ran a successful company for ten years.
Looking back, it would have been easy to stay close to home, not further my education, or not leave my safe corporate job. I wanted something different, so I did something different. It has not been easy, but I am proud of my choices and the life experiences I have gained.
As the Director of Finance Operations, Martha is among the many women we celebrate this month for their essential contributions to Inspirage’s success. She is responsible for finance and accounting activities, including financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, planning, analysis, invoicing, vendor management, client billing management, AR/AP, and executive accountability.
Please continue to watch this space as we use the occasion of Women’s History Month to celebrate some of the other noteworthy women of Inspirage, Part of Accenture.