Sponsored by Enovis
Erin Dunn. Photo courtesy of Enovis.
If you’re looking to find your passion at work, “step back and evaluate when you feel most engaged,” advises Erin Dunn, the Vice President of Information Technology at Enovis — a medical technology company focused on developing clinically differentiated solutions. “When that drive is almost tangible and you know there’s a difference you can make — that’s when you can really start to zone in on your passion,” she continues. This won’t happen instantly because finding your passion is an evolution.
In Dunn’s case, she gravitated toward leadership roles, but didn’t always know that this was her passion. “Even my first ‘leadership’ role didn’t immediately feel that fulfilling,” Dunn tells us. However, “the more I began to engage, to develop the skills to lead from behind and really push my teams ahead, and to guide them through my own experiences and expectations, I began to realize this was what drove me.”
As for finding her voice, Dunn shares that this was easier for her. “I’m not a quiet person,” says Dunn. “I am very direct, I’m very extroverted, and I am not afraid to speak up on behalf of my team or myself. I feel that I had a voice before I even had my passion, and it’s a large part of what helped me develop that passion and purpose.”
As Dunn sees it, your voice comes from being authentic and true to yourself — and you shouldn’t try to change your voice to fit a role. “I realized then that if my voice would limit my career, then I’d rather accept that than accept being and saying less,” she says.
Here, Dunn uses her strong voice and perspective to share more about her career journey, her passion (and advice!) for excelling in the IT field, leadership lessons, and more!
In Dunn’s current role, she oversees Envois’ 130-person IT organization regarding everything from day-to-day operations, strategic program execution, and business relationship management to budgets and vendor engagements. With all of her different tasks, it’s no surprise that every day in this role is different for Dunn — that’s even one of her favorite things about her IT role!
“Enovis is very dynamic and fast-paced, and, as a result, my days bring a lot of surprises,” shares Dunn. “We have several, very different business units, all with unique products, processes, and needs from IT. As a result, the IT organization must be flexible and adaptable, while also engaging to help grow our businesses with technology to support them.” For Dunn, this means that, “I may have one day where I spend several hours in a strategic session with our businesses; while the next day I am reviewing budgets, contracts, or dealing with escalated software issues in our environment,” she says.
While this environment can be challenging, Dunn notes that she’s glad to be in the IT field. “My brain tends to excel in change, so it’s a great fit,” she notes. “There’s a tremendous sense of achievement when you know you’ve delivered value. Additionally, our IT leadership team has to be quite engaged and motivating, so the teams keep up the morale in these ever-changing circumstances.”
So, if you’re looking to join the IT field like Dunn, she suggests that you should “be prepared for the chaos, and keep learning” in this ever-changing field. “Keep your mind open and learn on the daily,” she emphasizes. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new, whether it be a tool, a process, or a way of doing things.”
In addition to her advice on the IT field, Dunn also has a lot to share about leadership. To start, “know what it means to move into leadership,” Dunn emphasizes. “Each organization can be slightly different, and you don’t have to have a manager title or direct reports to lead.”
Dunn herself started her career at Enovis as a director without direct reports. “Initially, it felt strange,” she says, “but I fully embraced the opportunity and freedom to lead throughout the organization. So, when I see people wanting to advance in their careers who feel the only way to do so is to get into management, I always tell them that management and leadership aren’t the same thing! Usually, they go hand in hand, but you can be just as influential leading without managing. Know the difference and decide which is right for you.”
And, if you’ve decided that leadership is for you, it’s okay to find this new career path daunting! “When I was considered for the interim CIO at Enovis, I was more than intimidated,” Dunn tells us. “I knew the company, I knew the IT organization, and I felt confident in what the team was doing and my experience; however, I was intimidated by what I didn’t know.” In situations like these, Dunn relies on the advice given to her by a mentor and former leader: “Everyone has a first day, and a 20th day, and so on…”
“The idea behind the advice is that no one expects you to know everything on day one,” she explains. “The leaders above you aren’t electing you for this role because they’re confident you’ve already built the expertise. What they’re confident in is your ability to get involved, roll up your sleeves, and learn to excel. There’s also grace in knowing that you won’t have it all figured out, and the pressure only comes from you to be there on day one. You can take a breath, ask questions, and grow into the role.”
Achieving this growth, as a leader or otherwise, involves focusing your efforts outwards. “As I’ve grown in my career, I place more value on the perspectives of others,” states Dunn. “I listen more and attempt to talk less. I try to understand and appreciate how other people approach situations rather than just seeing how I would approach them. I’m far more collaborative and value the backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives that other people bring to the table. I truly believe that everyone can teach you something, regardless of their position in the company.” This focus on learning and listening helps her excel as a leader.
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