Luncheon Keynote, Thursday, May 3, 2018 from 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
Defying the Odds: Farm to Fortune 500
Read Laura's Bio
Laura Pevehouse is Dell’s Chief Blogger. Her vision and leadership have increased engagement in measurable ways across multiple pages and platforms for the tech giant since she stepped into her current position in 2014.
On May 3, The Derby Diversity Summit is excited to announce that Pevehouse will share her story during her luncheon keynote address, “Defying the Odds: Farm to Fortune 500.”
Pevehouse’s path to success couldn’t have been predicted. Coming from a family of cotton famers in Northeast Louisiana, she majored in journalism at LSU, then looked around at the possibilities. “The prospect of making poverty-level wages in a small town covering city council meetings wasn’t all that exciting,” she said.
She started pursuing a graduate degree in public relations when a professor suggested she try for a co-op position at The Superconducting Super Collider, which she landed.
The project had taken her to Texas. There, she soon began her professional career with PepsiCo, where her bosses were women. “I guess, even early in my career, I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in places where there were women in leadership roles I could model myself after,” she said.
Pevehouse later moved to Austin and became acting director of Public Information at the Texas Workforce Commission. She found herself looking for a job after training a man to take over what turned out to be her interim position. At the hairdresser’s, wondering aloud what could be next, Dell recruiter Erin Hager, hair in foils, introduced herself. “‘I couldn’t help but overhear,’” Pevehouse recalls her saying, “‘We’re looking for someone like you.’”
Pevehouse had found the company that would define her career trajectory. One standout moment happened during what she calls, “the best performance review I ever had.” Her manager said, “‘Never leave a meeting without saying something. If you’ve been invited to a meeting, someone has decided that your input is needed or is valuable, so don’t leave that meeting without saying something.’ It was a really small thing, but it made a difference to me. It opened the door. It gave me permission.”
Now with Dell for 17 years, the chief blogger and editor-in-chief has been rewarded with numerous promotions, working in internal communications, PR, and marketing, all while raising a daughter. The increasingly challenging roles “keep it interesting,” she said. “But I have also had the good fortune, again, to see women in leadership roles and see it not only modeled for me, but actively supported here at Dell.”
Leaders are often so focused on what they’re doing that they don’t realize they’re inspiring people. When Pevehouse was approached on Twitter by someone engaged in a massive blog overhaul who wanted to tell her how much she had learned from her talk at the Women in Digital conference, Pevehouse said, “That made my day.” “It gives me more courage to keep going and to overcome any of that self-doubt.”
Being the mother of a daughter has brought many of the obstacles she sees in tech workspaces into sharper relief. As part of Women in Digital, Pevehouse has the chance to deliberately step into the role of leader and motivator, building community to help even the playing field for women in tech.
At Dell, she’s found her true north -- a position that utilizes her writing, organizational training, managerial skills, and strategic vision, drawing on her talents and rewarding her strengths. In her current position, Pevehouse works with her deep knowledge of a company whose commitment to inclusion and sustainability, both internally and out in the world, model a high standard.