Title: Vice president of commercial business technology solutions
Jacki Dioguardi’s mother, a Vietnamese immigrant, taught her an important lesson: Regardless of where you come from and what is stacked against you, the value you place in yourself is what gives you strength.
“It wasn’t about education, it was about if you want to learn and are interested in learning, you can accomplish anything,” Dioguardi said. “I never thought of her as less than anything else because she never looked at herself as less than anyone else.”
Dioguardi, who started her career in IT consulting, has taken that belief in herself and a drive to succeed all the way to her current role as vice president of commercial business technology solutions at AbbVie.
Her journey began fresh out of college as a consultant at Arthur Andersen—later transformed into Accenture—then PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IBM. Through that experience, Dioguardi took a liking to life sciences, which led her to Abbott Laboratories' spinal business in 2003. Dioguardi stayed on board after Abbott sold the unit to Zimmer in 2008, and then went back to Abbott for a three-year stint as IT director at the pharma's molecular division. Then, when Abbott spun off AbbVie in 2013, Dioguardi went with it.
After taking over as senior director of enterprise applications at AbbVie, she was tasked with working on IT solutions for separating the spinoff's commercial, manufacturing and supply chain—a sort of Wild West situation given the size of the task at hand.
“I had two young children at the time, and an amazing husband who took on a lot of stuff,” she laughed. “It was tough to figure out the balance, but it was one of the most rewarding things. It made me realize a lot, including [the fact that] people matter more than anything.”
Since those days, Dioguardi said her team’s goal has been to bring IT and technology to the forefront of AbbVie’s business.
“What we’re really trying to do is say technology is really a part of everything,” she said. “I think the world now is so different because digital has penetrated every aspect of our lives, and there’s really no difference in how you think about it in life sciences.”
As a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated profession, Dioguardi has taken a proactive approach to help her female coworkers focus on their strengths as part of quarterly mentoring sessions at AbbVie.
“As I talk to women starting their careers, it’s a little different now,” she said. “When I started working, to be successful as a woman you had to be like a man. That was the norm. You wanted to emulate those characteristics. We’re finally starting to move to diversity where we are valued the same but we’re allowed to be different.”
Dioguardi takes some of her cues as a leader from Elaine Sorg, president of U.S. commercial operations, immunology and patient services at AbbVie, who “really seeks to understand” instead of being the loudest voice in the room, Dioguardi said.
But closer to home, Dioguardi looks to her 11-year-old daughter—a “headstrong” girl talented in math and writing—as a positive sign of things to come for women in STEM.