Fannie Mae
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Throughout her 18 years at Fannie Mae, Dena Jones has helped deliver innovative technology solutions across the enterprise. As Vice President of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Dena is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations in the CIO office and the company’s digital transformation efforts. 

Fannie Mae creates opportunities for people to buy, refinance, or rent a home across the country. They need the best and latest technologies to accomplish their mission — and the right leadership to push it even further.

There’s a lot to get done in any given day, but Dena flourishes by playing to her team’s strengths. She leads primarily through mentorship — coaching when necessary and putting people in positions to succeed.

Dena picked up a lot of tips and tricks along the way to becoming a strong tech leader. Read on to see how she rose to the top.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role?

I’m currently the VP of the Office of CIO, where I have two primary responsibilities:

  • Running the day-to-day operations in the CIO office, where I focus on top priorities like delivering on our commitments, talent strategies and retention, financial management, and risk management.

  • Managing the digital transformation program — providing efficiency, speed, and stability for our employees, our customers, and our business, so we can make an even bigger impact for homeowners and renters across the country.

Why did you choose a career at Fannie Mae? 

I used to work in mortgage lending earlier in my career. I engaged with people at Fannie Mae every day and learned more about the importance Fannie Mae plays in housing. I wanted to help serve that mission, too, so when an opportunity arose, I took it and haven’t looked back. Every day, I’m surrounded by top talent, and I’m constantly learning.

What opportunities at Fannie Mae have helped you advance in your career? 

I think it’s important to have mentors and sponsors. Mentors are people you can trust for advice or for coaching. Sponsors are people who will advocate for you, especially when you’re not in the room, and can present you with new opportunities. I’ve had support from both throughout my time here, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without these resources.

How does Fannie Mae provide support to become a leader?

Fannie Mae provides great learning opportunities — both internal and external — including technical training, leadership development, and management programs facilitated by MIT. 

What’s the one career skill that you’re most proud of? 

I’m proud of how I’ve developed my management style. Through training, I’ve learned how to be more emotionally intelligent and connect with my team better. It’s made a big difference in how I connect with them as a leader of people with varying backgrounds and personalities. 

How would you describe your leadership style? 

I’m a collaborator with a team-first approach. I want everyone to feel empowered to speak up and feel comfortable doing so, even if they don’t agree on a particular solution, to produce the best possible result.

Any advice for women who aspire to be in leadership? 

You must have a voice and express what you want, or else no one will know. Be bold and vocal when it comes to what you want in your career. 

Also, I think that, too often, women look for opportunities where they’re the perfect fit for each job function. But, instead of limiting ourselves, we should feel emboldened to take a chance, even if we aren’t the perfect fit. If we’re interested, go after it. 

What’s the No. 1 thing you hope your direct reports get out of working with you? 

I hope they feel empowered to make decisions that drive our work forward. I hope they’re passionate about what they’re doing, see the value they bring to the organization, and see how their work connects to our mission.

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