Women Worth Watching 2015
This Senior VP & CIO Leads Aflac’s IT Division to an Innovative Future
As Aflac’s senior vice president/chief information officer since July 2013, Julia Davis oversees the day-to-day operations and the strategic initiatives of the company’s Information Technology division. In this role, Julia has shown herself to be a dedicated visionary who possesses the integrity, character, competence, and decisiveness that are essential to lead successfully. She has also been tenacious in her quest to modernize the IT division and enable Aflac to remain at the top of the innovation charts in the insurance industry.
“Always understand what your goal is. Don’t try to be something you don’t want to be.”
Julia began her career as a software engineer in the United States Air Force, where she rose to the rank of captain. Prior to joining Aflac, she served as chief information officer at American Safety Insurance (ASI), as well as the Equipment Finance Division of GE Capital Healthcare Financial Services and GE Capital Business Productivity Solutions. Additionally, she has held IT leadership positions at GE Energy, Armstrong World Industries, Information Builders, Ogden Government Services, and CRSS Services, Inc.
Her biggest career leap, however, came outside of the technology realm.
“I was always on the engineer/technology career track and I saw an opportunity to triumph in an area that was out of my comfort zone—sales,” said Julia. “It’s one of the jobs I’ve held in which I have learned the most. In sales, I mastered the skill of building my brand and selling my ideas/innovation. As a project manager, I learned the craft of communication and how to manage different teams. These critical skills have helped me as CIO to meet strategic goals.
Education: BS Engineering Physics at Lehigh University; MS System Administration from St. Mary University
First Job: Software Engineer
What I’m Reading: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain
Words I live by: “Always understand what your goal is and don’t try to be something you don’t want to be.”
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…an open mind – I believe women are naturally strong communicators and can analyze a situation objectively and accurately from all sides of the spectrum. Women should use this to their advantage – to be open to different opinions and perspectives even if they may be different from their own.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Don’t view failure as rejection. View it as a learning experience. Being able to grow from adversity and move on is what makes you a stronger leader.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…to be true to myself. As a female leader in male dominated industries, I began leading like males. However, when I was leading females, I forgot my “female” side and had to learn again how to implement leadership qualities such as empathy and communications flexibility, which highly resonates with females.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…close my door and silence the “noise” of any distractions that may disrupt my productivity. With a clear mind, I am able to focus on the issue at hand and design a roadmap toward a resolution.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…I was always on the engineer/technology career track and I saw an opportunity to triumph in an area that was out of my comfort zone – sales. I never saw myself in sales but it’s one of the jobs that I have learned the most from.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…rewarding and challenging. I’m grateful to my father who taught me that it doesn’t matter what gender you are – you can accomplish anything you want. Because of his encouragement, I never saw being a female in a male dominated industry as a challenge.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…a stepping-stone in life, not a spiraling journey downward.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…excelling in the kitchen! I love to cook and try new recipes. Cooking at home is not only healthy but also very gratifying.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
My most rewarding experiences stemmed from my sales and project management jobs. As a project manager, I learned the craft of communication and management of different teams. In sales, I mastered the skill of building my brand and selling my ideas/innovation. Similarly, as a CIO, these critical skills have helped to meet strategic goals.