Women’s History Month 2020 at Oracle: Christina Cavanna on Trust and Community

This month at Oracle we’re celebrating the women who have shaped our lives, our communities, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our society. Hear from our employees, partners, and customers and share your own story on social media by using the #HerStory hashtag and tagging @Oracle.

Christina Cavanna is Vice President of Global Marketing Operations and Chief of Staff. She’s a seasoned marketing leader and Oracle veteran—and also a mentor and a mother.

Tell us about your job. What do you love about what you do?

My favorite thing about my job is being able to show significant impact. I love working in areas that add real value to the business. With marketing, I know you can add real value to the company when you’re successfully connected to the overall business strategy. And I get to work with smart people every day who love a challenge.

Tell us a little bit about life outside of the office.

I hang out with my family, I love to be at the beach, and sometimes I break out a puzzle.

Why is Oracle a great place to work?

Something that makes Oracle unique is the size of our business. This means there’s always an opportunity to try something new—whether that’s a different role, area of the business, or set of skills. If you’re starting to get antsy in a job because you feel you’ve learned it, it’s time to move forward and Oracle always supports that. My favorite part of working at Oracle, however, is the people—getting to work on teams to solve big challenges with smart people who are kind and respectful.

Who has inspired you on your journey, both professionally and personally?

For me, it’s a group of women I call my “neighborhood moms.” I grew up in a town about 50 miles east of where we are at Oracle HQ in Redwood Shores, Calif. This was a different time, when people really didn’t move around much. You grew up alongside the same families. There were six moms who all lived on Tyler Avenue, and together they were a force. They each had such different life experiences. One was a small business owner, another a pilot, another built their own home. Together, they built a beautiful, lasting community from scratch—one where we felt really supported, loved, and optimistic, like the world was our oyster.

What did you learn from the “neighborhood moms”?

The neighborhood moms really instilled in me the meaning of trust, which is about both supporting and leaning on others. Because I grew up on this block, in this community that these women fostered, I really seek out communities that are similar. Even in a workplace environment, I look for people who are open and who are kind, where I know I can trust and be trusted.

The theme for International Women’s Day is, “Let’s all be each for equal,” a call to create a more gender-balanced world. What does this mean to you?

Of course, “each for equal” means the big things we as a society still need to work on—like equal pay and representation. Beyond that, for me personally it means a culture of respect and awareness, where you are heard and valued based on merit and not on gender. There are no more excuses for keeping women from having a seat at the table. We have a long way to go, and we each need to work towards a more equitable society.

What are your hopes for the next generation?

When I think about my nieces, I hope that they can be themselves without giving a second thought to their behavior because of their gender. I hope they never feel that tug of second-guessing or filtering their opinion because they worry about perception. Also, I hope that we don’t need to enforce or legislate equality because the business, societal, and cultural value of gender-equity is a given or an assumption. We don’t need to explain it!

If you could share only one bit of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Your career is about people. Build your network and nurture it! If you see someone doing something that you admire, that interests you—ask them about it. Choose jobs based on the managers and the team, not just the position.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their careers?

Set goals for the long term and share them with your managers or mentors for accountability. Career conversations shouldn’t be about how to get to the next level—they should be about how you’re moving towards your long-term mission. Going with the flow doesn’t always work. You’ve got to define your own pace and path.

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