After Beating Cancer, I Have a More Authentic Approach to My Career Than Ever — Here’s Why

Lori Dipprey

Photo courtesy of Lori Dipprey

June 21, 2024 at 7:37PM UTC
As Chief People Officer for Pariveda Solutions, Lori Dipprey takes a human approach to the field of technology. This is because Pariveda is built on a commitment to focus first on growing the individual person. Dipprey has spent her 13 years at this technology consulting firm, designing the programs to make this culture possible across the now 11 offices and 700 employees.
“We think about the whole person and look for opportunities for them to achieve their highest potential,” said Dipprey, who spent a decade as a software developer before joining the firm. 
“I love our commitment to the individual person and their career journey, both within and outside of Pariveda.”

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This “whole-person” approach is one Dipprey has experienced firsthand while at Pariveda. When Dipprey, a mother of two, received a cancer diagnosis eight years ago, her “world was turned upside down,” but her work family had her back unconditionally. Through this experience, she learned to “put things in check,” changing the way she thought about authenticity and success at work and at home.  
Recently, Dipprey shared with Fairygodboss a few of her biggest career and life takeaways to emerge from this experience, as well as what other women should know about working for a company where you’re supported as a human being.
Tell us a bit about your job. What are your main responsibilities in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have a variety of jobs at Pariveda. I am the People Architect, which means I am focused on how we design our business model to support the full lifecycle of our employees as they develop their careers with us. I am also the National Capability Lead, which means I focus on how we match our employees to client work and what they need to develop as they are delivering for our clients. Additionally, I work with our clients who are interested in taking a different approach to how they attract, develop, and retain their employees by leveraging what we’ve created here at Pariveda.
Before joining Pariveda, I was a software developer for over ten years. I started as a developer for Southwest Airlines and then moved into consulting, where I became a lead technical architect and project manager. In fact, when I started with Pariveda, I was still doing technical work. I was leading teams and helping clients design and develop software. 
What do you love most about your job? And what about your company?
I love our commitment to the individual person and their career journey, both within and outside of Pariveda. We think about the whole person and look for opportunities for them to achieve their highest potential. I love that I not only get to help design new and different ways to keep Pariveda true to this purpose but also get to teach our people development model to clients as well.
While at your company, you went through a significant life change. Can you tell us a bit about what that was like (as much as you’re comfortable sharing?)
I was diagnosed with a somewhat rare cancer eight years ago. My daughter was nine months old, and my son just turned three years old. My world was turned upside down, and it definitely made me see what really mattered. Pariveda was amazing during this period. Of course, they told me to take as much time as I needed to just cope with the fact of my first diagnosis. Once a treatment plan was in place, they worked with me to figure out my schedule. They also threw me a hat and scarf party, because I was definitely going to lose my hair! They put together a meal calendar for my family, and my mentor made it very clear that my No. 1 career goal for the next year was to beat cancer! Everyone was so supportive while still treating me like “normal.”
How do you feel like this experience has been reflective of your overall experience at your company? 
This experience really helped me put things in check. I was absolutely a perfectionist before cancer and didn’t want to fail or make a mistake. Cancer helped me see that it’s not life or death and that I can authentically be myself while still being successful in my career and at home.
How would you describe your leadership style?  
My personal preference is to lead through collaboration. That means as I work with a team, we are working together to define a solution or path that makes sense to us as a team, while bringing everyone along on the journey. Another aspect of collaborative leadership is identifying and designing learning moments for those I am leading, which means looking at how my leadership and delegation needs to adapt to how the person I’m working with learns best, and I also rely on the Situational Leadership Model to guide how I delegate. At times, I am called to make decisions and provide direction. I tend to do that more through influence.
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work? 
I try to proactively reach out to women in the firm to talk about their careers. I personally have been through a lot over the course of my career. That not only includes the typical challenges, but I am a mother of two and successfully fought a serious battle with cancer. I’ve learned a lot about managing the tension between personal and professional responsibilities. Anything I can do to help other women in this area, I want to do. 
This is why I look for ways to build relationships with women so that they see me as a safe person to call when they need advice or a listening ear. I try to build what I call “margin” into my schedule every week to have the flexibility to have these conversations. Some weeks it’s easier than others, so when I can, I will schedule a periodic call (maybe monthly or quarterly) to stay connected. I also have several women that I informally mentor, and we try to connect monthly or every other month as our schedules allow.
What’s one thing you think young job seekers should know about your company? What about those who are in a more advanced career stage? 
Pariveda believes we are all on a learning journey for our entire career. For any person, early or later in their career, that means there is an abundance of opportunity to grow your career. Every person, from intern to executive, has a formal mentor, to support you in your growth. I enjoy that everyone is always willing to help me learn and grow, no matter my position or experience. It’s a team of smart people who always challenge me and teach me new things. This is what has kept me here for 13 years! 
What’s the No. 1 thing you think women should know about working at your company? 
We are absolutely committed to removing the barriers so women can have successful careers here or anywhere they want to go after working here. Beyond supporting women, our equal pay and performance management practices are intentionally designed to remove biases so that women and men are looked at and treated equally as they grow their careers.
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