People 11 December 2017
Whether it's getting business done on the golf course, traveling the globe, or running countless marathons, it's safe to say that Rhonda Vetere puts passion into everything she does, even if it allows her to only get two hours of sleep a night. But that same drive and determination allow her to be a key player in the tech world, especially since her extensive IT management experience dates back to 25 years.
“Everyday my duties are different, so my approach tends to be proactive and reactive which keeps everything running smoothly," she says. “Although I do face challenges, prioritizing and focusing on the right thing is crucial."
Rhonda works with business leaders to technology team members on a daily basis, making it important for her to have her own unique leadership style. However, Rhonda believes in full contact management, keeping her approach open and collaborative.
It's this same unique and personal leadership approach which named her one of the most effective female leaders in the male-dominated tech force.
“My leadership style is open, direct, collaborative, and I love to invest in and mentor others," she adds. “I always want to help people and give back to others. I take my role as a role model pretty seriously."
As an innovator in the tech sphere, Vetere explains that she's constantly looking for ways to change and the improve the shopping experience, including exploring the budding tech industry trend of mobility.
“The latest trend definitely seems to be mobility, as I saw this specifically during my travels in Asia," Vetere acknowledges. “I've challenged my own team to go mobile for a day around the world like they do in China. Mobility is key."
Being a prominent voice in tech also requires Vetere to travel frequently, which she says has played a big a part in her impressive workplace experience. Her journeys to China and India in particular have allowed to her to experience diversity of thought and culture, which she says, is key to thriving in the business world.
“I have traveled and worked with people of many different cultures, and these global experiences have been a key part of my background," she suggests. “Travel helps me see the diversity of thought, people, and culture, and it has taught me that adaptability is key."
Adaptability is also a skill Vetere says female tech hopefuls need to possess, as staying mobile, and taking the job no one wants is a way to stay ten steps ahead of the game for sure.
“I've worked with all men throughout my career, and the key is to adapt," she says. “Aside from being business savvy, you'll want to learn to play golf, as most business gets done on the golf course. It's also key to remember to be mobile and take the job that no one wants."
But while her daily duties can be challenging at times, Rhonda finds inner peace through a strict schedule, and of course, a dedicated fitness routine filled with triathlon, IronMan and marathon recess runs. “Schedule is critical and crucial and I usually plan things six months to a year out," she explains. “Fitness is key it gives me discipline and helps me achieve my goals. My fitness routine is key to my physical and mental well being, and it definitely keeps me sharp and focused."
Three years ago, I made a deal with myself - I wanted to have $100,000 saved when I'm 25. But I didn't mind if it didn't happen until the day before my 26th birthday.
One of my biggest priorities in life has always been to save as much money as possible — and I owe much of that to my parents, who made sure I had a strong financial education at a young age.
My dad even helped me start a vending machine business when I was nine. The experience taught me essential skills like how to pitch a business, cope with rejection and open a checking and savings account.
For the past three years, I've never made more than $80,000. About a year ago, I reviewed my rate of savings and investments and realized that I was on track to save $100,000. With only a car loan away from being debt free, I've got another year and $10K to go!
I want to acknowledge that privilege is a key part of my story. I'm white, I come from a middle-class family, and I was able to graduate college without any debt. All these things helped a great deal.
But my parents didn't raise me with a silver spoon. Paying for college was a collaborative process. We'd sit down at least twice a year to discuss how we were going to pay for the next semester. The first question they'd always ask me was: "How much can you contribute?"
I've been fortunate. But it also takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and responsibility to save and maximize your earnings. Feeling motivated and knowing that I'll be prepared for whatever life throws my way fuels my drive to keep making smart financial decisions. Here's how I'm getting to $100K.
- I side-hustled
This kick-started my journey towards six-figures. In addition to saving the majority of my 9-5 salary, my first year of freelance social media marketing made me quite a bit of cash that I could immediately save. I was able to establish both a SEP IRA and a fully-funded emergency fund with my earnings.
2. I started investing early
Knowing that compound interest is so important, I wanted to start investing early to have my money work for me. Once I started my first big-girl job, I opened my first Roth IRA. Starting to save for retirement at age 22, I was able to max out my Roth each year and also contribute to aSEP IRA and a non-retirement investment account. My first job out of school had a 401(k), but you couldn't contribute until you were there at least a year. Knowing I wasn't planning on staying long — I was at that job for a year and a few months — I opened a Roth 401(k) and then rolled my earnings to my Roth IRA.
3. I negotiated salary offers and raises
Negotiating should be a collaboration, not a confrontation. Growing up, I watched my father sit on hold, patiently waiting to negotiate our cable and phone bills. Negotiation was always part of my life, and I grew up with parents who knew how to do it. So when I was offered my first social media freelance gig, I negotiated over $10k more than they offered. And after achieving a 20% bump at my first 9-5, I negotiated $20k more than what was offered at my next job. And $10k more at the next job. If negotiating for raises freaks you out, here's a guide that can help.
4. I've automated my savings
Automating your money not only makes your life easier, but it makes you feel like the percentage you're saving just doesn't exist. I have 26% of each paycheck automatically deposited into a high-yield savings account. This savings account is purposefully at a different bank than my day-to-day checking account, so I'm less likely to withdraw from it and less likely to think about it. This "set it and forget it" level of financial freedom was something I worked hard for -- through money diarying, budgeting, and conscious spending. So now, my savings amount is completely on autopilot.
At the age of 24, I know that I am on the right track to make my goal a reality. Inspired by my own journey, I wanted to help women everywhere to have that same feeling of confidence that financial education gives — and get information from someone who isn't an old, rich white dude. As a money speaker and coach, I run Her First $100K, a financial literacy platform for millennial women on the path to get their first $100K too.
It's possible to achieve your first $100K — whether that's debt paid off, earned, saved, invested, or something else. With intentional strategies and focus, you've got this!