This week, we’re spotlighting Carly Tatum — a leader in corporate responsibility. Her personal mission is to create a positive impact across the globe, and she has done that to great success in her current role at Dell. Whether it’s working to end plastic pollution or raising her two young sons, Tatum is an inspiration to working mothers everywhere.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Carly Tatum
Corporate Responsibility Communications Lead, Global Communications, Dell
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
CT: I have followed my heart my whole life. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be creative, I wanted to help people and I wanted to have a positive impact. I see my career as one of my opportunities to fulfill these life goals. Staying aligned with this personal mission has kept me motivated and inspired to do my best work and to encourage others to do the same.
In my role leading corporate responsibility communications, I lead PR campaigns, exec communications, influencer relations and thought leadership for Dell's sustainability and philanthropic initiatives. It's my job to tell inspiring stories that engage Dell's critical audiences with all the ways the company has a positive impact on society. I also influence the business and encourage the pursuit of new initiatives with a positive environmental or community benefit. Prior to this role, I led global digital communications strategy at Dell, and US marketing for a global student travel company, STA Travel.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
CT: Two years ago, I created Dell's first Social Good Advocate program to bring influential outside voices inside the company to help advance Dell's sustainability agenda. That is, to put our expertise and products to work for the benefit of society. The program brought awareness to critical issues facing our oceans like plastic pollution.
After months of advocating internally, we successfully inspired Dell to pursue the use of ocean plastic as a material for packaging. The packaging pilot launched in the spring and will keep an initial 16,000 lbs of plastic from entering the ocean. We are now scaling the effort and open sourcing our supply chain for other companies to join. How many times in a career do you have the opportunity to do something that truly benefits the world? It's an awesome feeling.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
CT: Learning the delicate dance of being a working mom has been a challenge. There's the pumping, the sick kids, the work trips, the daycare closures, the late nights. It's hard. I can't say I've figured it out (no one really has, right?), but I have learned to prioritize the critical items and embrace the chaos. Yoga and meditation help.
The last two weeks have also been a true test. Hurricane Harvey has had a deeply personal impact on our Texas-based teams, customers, and community. It’s been my role to keep everyone informed of our response, and engaged in the relief effort. We all know someone personally affected, and the devastation is heartbreaking. But it’s been inspiring to see teams quickly come together and mobilize resources. We have employees saving lives, getting businesses up and running, building evacuation kits and giving us all a reason to feel hopeful.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
CT: Sounds cliché, but follow your passion. If you don't know what your passion is, just start somewhere and weed out the things you don't like to do. When you're passionate about what you do, you will always succeed.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
CT: Dell is an entrepreneurial company that encourages exploration. It is also a very flexible culture that truly values results over when, where and how you get your work done. I have worked from doctor's offices, my porch, summer mountain retreats, coffee shops and airplanes without skipping a beat. This has allowed me to maintain a sense of harmony in my life.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
CT: JJ Davis, Vice President of Global Communications at Dell. She is the most passionate, creative leader and mother I've ever met. She motivates her team and the broader company to be bold, take risks and keep innovating. I strive to her level in my career and in my life.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
CT: When I'm not working, I resume my roles as referee, personal chef and hygienist for two energetic, adorable little boys. This is also how I get my steps in most days.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?
CT: Michelle Obama. She's an amazing leader, mother and daughter who has always stayed true to herself.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
CT: I can't get enough of Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody."
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
CT: “Dirty Dancing.” No one puts Baby in the corner!!
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
CT: I am trying to cut back on Amazon. If I won the lottery, I'd send underserved teens on a trip around the world, and buy myself a sustainable farm in the Texas Hill Country.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.