In the fast-paced world of technology, where innovation is a driving force for change, ServiceNow emerges as a beacon of leadership. Vanessa Smith, President of ServiceNow.org, shares her insights into her journey and the organization’s commitment to making a positive impact on nonprofit organizations, the transformative power of technology, the role of digital experience, and the importance of inclusivity in the tech industry.
A Change Catalyst: Vanessa Smith’s Tech Odyssey
Smith’s journey with ServiceNow began in September 2020, a time marked by the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was drawn to ServiceNow by three key elements: the readiness for change, the remarkable capabilities of the NOW platform, and the chance to work again with influential tech leader Bill McDermott. With over 25-years of experience in tech and a family deeply rooted in the industry, Smith’s unique perspective and passion for social impact fuel her role as President of ServiceNow.org.
Smith’s family has a rich history in tech, starting with her father who began his 30-year career at IBM in the late 1960s, which laid the foundation for her career.
“My father, despite a tough upbringing, was given a chance to demonstrate his immense talent and change his life through a corporate affirmative action program,” she recalls. “It turned into a 30 plus year career with IBM, ultimately leading a team that implemented and leveraged technology to ensure customers had the parts to run their IBM infrastructure at scale.”
The tech legacy didn’t stop there. Smith’s mother also joined IBM, working in human resources, and currently her daughter Alexis, who was inspired by the family’s tech background, shifted from journalism to business as her college major and now works at Google, as does Vanessa’s brother, Anthony. The journey from her father’s trailblazing path to her daughter’s tech career showcases the enduring impact of diversity and inclusion.
At the heart of ServiceNow’s business is a strong sense of purpose, which Smith emphasizes in her role. The organization’s daily pursuit involves driving digital innovation to empower businesses, impact communities, and make the world a better place for the most vulnerable.
“Over time, you start thinking about not only executing well against your specific job duties and responsibilities,” Smith says, “but also having a lasting impact in the communities where you live. I have an immense level of gratitude for teachers and the sacrifices my family made to ensure I had access to a top-tier education. I truly believe that educational access was foundational to my personal and professional growth.”
Bridging the Gap: Support and Training for Nonprofits
ServiceNow.org’s mission is to bring digital transformation to the nonprofit sector, offering support and training programs comparable to those provided to for-profit customers. The RiseUp with ServiceNow initiative exemplifies this commitment, addressing talent and skilling needs in the high-growth ServiceNow ecosystem. This initiative not only equips non-profits with essential skills but also opens doors for diverse candidates in the tech sector.
Collaborative Innovation for Positive Impact
Smith discusses how ServiceNow.org stays abreast of emerging trends by fostering a two-way relationship with nonprofit customers.
“Our relationship with a no-profit customer is two-way,” Smith says. “We do this through 1:1 engagement, community roundtables and discussions, and through our more formal customer listening sessions that inform our long-term product roadmap. Incorporating live feedback from their experience with the platform makes our technology better, but also enhances how ServiceNow impacts their organization.”
Smith also emphasizes that ServiceNow is bringing the same leading AI capabilities to the global nonprofit sector that are being offered to for-profit customers, with “a focus on the organizational processes and imperatives specific to non-profits, such as donor and constituent experience.”
Accessibility as a Core Value
Ensuring inclusivity and accessibility in technology solutions is paramount for ServiceNow. The creation of the Center of Excellence for Accessibility in 2022 underscores the commitment to providing an optimal experience for all users. Collaboration with the Center of Excellence for Accessibility ensures that accessibility is at the forefront of every customer experience.
Navigating Challenges, Nurturing Culture, and Inspiring Others
As the co-chair of Black@ServiceNow, Smith emphasizes the importance of community, acknowledging the challenges unique to underrepresented groups in tech.
“It’s one of the most fulfilling roles I serve in,” Smith says. “Black@ServiceNow is a community I can turn to when I need unwavering support, innovative ideas, or a much-needed laugh. It is a community that understands what it feels like to navigate the world in this skin.”
As a Black leader in the tech space, Smith knows the topics and issues she speaks on carry weight.
“I consider it an extreme privilege to have the opportunity to bring issues and solutions that are weighing on our community,” Smith says. “Those issues include hiring, retention, development, visibility, promotion, psychological safety to the table and being a problem solver.”
As far as advice for Black professionals, Smith implores them to “find and embrace a community, work hard to develop strong relationships, and demonstrate your distinctive contributions to an organization through a strong individual purpose and values.”
Future Horizons: Enhancing Impact in the Nonprofit Sector
Looking ahead, Smith envisions a future where the digital maturity of nonprofits increases at scale through the NOW platform. The GenAI revolution is poised to be a game-changer, Smith says, offering AI capabilities tailored to the specific needs of nonprofits.
Smith’s commitment to building thought leadership aims to showcase the benefits of the NOW platform on the missions of nonprofits globally.
Smith’s leadership at ServiceNow.org exemplifies the transformative potential of technology when harnessed with purpose and inclusivity.
“ServiceNow’s commitment to empowering nonprofits demonstrates the positive impact that thought leadership and innovation can have on the world. As we anticipate exciting announcements in 2024, the tech industry can look to ServiceNow.org as a guiding force in driving positive change.”
And Smith is committed to leading the charge.
“The drive to create and deliver impact—lives saved, communities transformed, and environments impacted—is what gets me up in the morning.”
To learn more about ServiceNow’s commitment to empowerment, go to ServiceNow.org.