As the senior vice president of advocacy, data, insights and analytics for the Chief Customer Office at Dell Technologies, Najuma Atkinson thinks of her role—and that of the team she leads—as “the listening post” for the voice of the customer.
“My team is responsible for … ensuring that we provide solutions that meet the needs of our customers as well as team members who help [customers] experience the full experience that Dell Technologies has to offer,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson, a 2001 graduate, earned a master’s degree in organizational management at Trevecca. The interdisciplinary program, now known as the Master of Organizational Leadership, draws from communications, religion and business to provide students with a balanced perspective on leadership within an organization.
That approach, Atkinson says, has influenced her leadership style.
“[The program helped me] to think about the kind of leader I wanted to be,” Atkinson said. “At Trevecca, we really promote servant leadership; it’s one of our core principles. … I’ve taken those principles with me, from a servant leadership perspective, thinking about the whole and not just myself, that it’s all about what I can do for my teams and my organizations. My mother and father instilled those principles in me, but they were very much reinforced by my program at Trevecca.”
When Atkinson started her master’s program at Trevecca, she was working full-time in the IT field. “I was not in a position where I could stop working,” she recalled.
Knowing Trevecca’s leadership program was designed with working students in mind, Atkinson decided to check it out—but it was the program and curriculum that made her decision to enroll easier.
“You’re in classes with people at various levels—some entry-level, some at my level, mid-level managers, and some very senior in their careers,” she said. “The professors had real-life application. It wasn’t just theory that we were learning.
“It was also a faith-based program and that was very important to me,” Atkinson continued. “One of my favorite readings—a book that I share with people here, Business through the Eyes of Faith (Chewning, Eby, Roels)—really grounded me in the type of leader that I am, [stressing] that you don’t have to compromise your integrity and beliefs to be effective, which creates an environment where you tend to be more successful.”
That success doesn’t just extend to those Atkinson leads.
After spending the first 18 years of her Dell Technologies career in human relations, Atkinson shifted focus last August, taking her current role in Dell Technologies’ Chief Customer Office. While the roles may seem very different initially, Atkinson is quick to point out their similarities.
“I have a passion—and have always had a passion for the customer, be it an internal customer, like my last role, or and external customer, and I have a passion around data,” Atkinson said. “So, I sought out roles and opportunities that could marry those two things. … [This role] in the Chief Customer Office very much aligns with where my passions are: focusing on providing the best solutions for our customers as well as using data and insights to make an informed decision.”
As a senior leader in an industry dominated by men, Atkinson understands the weight and importance of her role but says that Dell Technologies is the perfect place for women to grow and thrive.
“There is absolutely an area of opportunity for women in senior leadership in the tech industry,” she said. “Only 21 percent of senior leadership roles in tech are occupied by women with women only making up about 34 percent of all employees in tech. If you look at women of color that tends to be a little more challenging.
“But at Dell Technologies, it hasn’t been challenging for me,” she continued. “Dell is a place where we want everyone to grow and thrive, so we’re focused on creating an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work. We have goals that by 2030, 50 percent of our workforce will be women, and, of that 50 percent, 40 percent will be in leadership positions. We are working toward those moonshot goals, and I’m proud to work for a company and a leader who is willing to take such a public stance.”