Diane Greene: An Opposite Attracts

VMware's Greene strikes a blow for women in IT

September 18, 2007

2 Min Read
Network Computing logo

One of the most fascinating aspects of last week's VMworld show was witnessing the contrasting styles of VMware CEO Diane Greene and her male counterparts elsewhere in the storage market.

Greene is one of only a handful of women who have scaled the heady heights of the IT industry. She presents a stark contrast to the testosterone-charged bluster typically associated with these events. Often described as "unassuming" and even "humble" by the technology press, Greene's stage persona is decidedly low-key, lacking both the flamboyance of Cisco's John Chambers and the aggression of, say, Oracle's Larry Ellison.

Hardly one to jump off the stage and wade into the audience ( la Mr. Chambers), the diminutive Greene exudes a certain shyness, something that was underlined when one of her staff gave her a hug at the end of her keynote last week.

Constantly smiling, the VMware chief even wandered into the bustling press center at one point during the confab, joking with the assembled hacks about their labors in the "salt mines" of VMworld.

This easy-going manner seemed a world away from the textbook IT supplier CEO, a distant (and invariably male) figure who is typically spirited from briefing to briefing on a small cloud of flunkies.That's not to say that Greene doesn't fit in with the cutthroat (and male-dominated) world of storage. A graduate of both MIT and the University of California at Berkeley, the exec spent time designing oil-rigs earlier in her career, and co-founded VMware after several techie roles at Silicon Graphics, Sybase, and Tandem.

As a former windsurfing and sailing champion, Greene clearly possesses a competitive streak, which undoubtedly played out in VMware's recent IPO, not to mention her firm's role in molding the virtualization market.

At this stage, female CEOs are still few and far between in IT, reflecting the industry's overwhelmingly male workforce. It is too early to say whether Greene's success is likely to open the door for more women, but her unpretentious and down-to-earth persona is certainly a refreshing change.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • SGI

  • Sybase Inc.

  • VMware Inc.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights