Alumni Achievers

Donna Troy (B.S. 1978)

Accepting Challenges, Opportunities Puts Troy on Global Track

Computer science alumna Donna TroyDonna Troy switched from physics to computer science in her junior year at NC State. She switched, she said, "when I couldn't identify with what I was being taught; thermodynamics did me in."

That decision launched a career that now has her traveling around the globe as executive vice president of worldwide channels for Network Associates, Inc. The partnerships, alliances and other business relationships that Troy manages comprise the distribution channels for Network Associates' two families of computer security solutions: McAfee System Protection Solutions for desktops and servers, and McAfee Network Protection Solutions for corporate networks.

Before joining Network Associates in 2003, Troy served as president and chief executive officer at Partnerware and held several leadership roles in the course of a 22-year career with IBM, including vice president of Tivoli Worldwide and vice president of solution developer alliances, managing overall IBM relationships with the largest independent software vendors around the world.

Troy started her career with IBM "right out of school, in custom application development for enterprise customers," she said. Her first project was building a mortgage system for First Federal Bank in Rochester, NY. "After a year of working with customers on site and with the IBM sales team, I was recruited to work as a systems engineer." She then progressed rapidly through systems engineering positions. IBM had clear career development tracks and identified people early for their executive resources program, moving people from line jobs to staff and back to line as part of the development process. "After a year I was promoted to my first management job and then every two years I progressed to different jobs and opportunities. Each had its own risk and rewards. It was not a given you would be successful. But taking the risk was part of the growth process. I moved from technical sales support to sales branch management and from there to my first HQ job in White Plains, New York."

Troy encourages today's graduates, particularly those who land positions with larger companies, to use the resources available to them. "In larger companies with a focus on employee development, they should expect significant training and to be part of a team, with management and mentors assigned," she said.

"They should also expect that they must reach out to use the resources that a larger company has to offer; it will not always come to them. Good interpersonal skills and good communications skills go far and set you apart."

A strong performance record at IBM resulted in new opportunities for Troy, including roles on task forces and special assignments that opened doors to further advancement. Her first international experience was representing the United States as part of a world-wide marketing team. "From there, I had additional assignments that were global in scope, and had to travel and establish relationships globally," she said.

Troy recently joined Network Associates, Inc. "I knew the management team, and the people you work with is a key issue to me. Also, the security industry is growing with lots of upside. Lastly, the opportunity was around the channel, which is what I love to do."

When asked if she faced unique challenges as a woman in the industry, Troy said, "Yes and no. I have had significant opportunity throughout my career, and have only had a few occasions when being a woman was an issue. But we have to live by a different standard, like it or not. My view is that you have to operate above reproach with the highest integrity. Men survive; women do not. Both should be held to the same standard of course, but that's not the real world."

Her advice to women embarking on their careers:

  • Set your goals and go for them
  • Communicate and network with people who can help you move forward
  • Always do excellent work.

The same, of course, applies to men launching their careers. She also notes that while balancing a career with family and community responsibilities can be tough, it is possible. "My husband and I share our responsibilities. We also have had great nannies, and we focused our free time on our kids. It's something you have to make a priority: God, family and work, in that order. Also…I don't think about it too much; I just do what I have to."

Troy recently added another commitment to her agenda: she joined the Department of Computer Science's Strategic Advisory Board at the invitation of Dr. Alan Tharp, department head. She accepted because, "I thought I could bring my experience to the table, to help shape the program and the requirements from an industry point of view. I also want to connect my company to the university as a partner and resource."

- posted 2003 - Anna Rzewnicki -

NC State Achieve Logo