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AN INTERVIEW WITH

Yvonne Whitaker

NCR VOYIX Foundation Leader  |  Atlanta, Georgia

AN INTERVIEW WITH

Yvonne Whitaker

NCR VOYIX Foundation Leader  |  Global DE&I Council  |  Atlanta, Georgia

Could you begin with a brief overview of your background and journey to NCR VOYIX?

I like to say that I keep changing my mind about what I want to be when I grow up.

So 40 years ago, when I first started my career, I never thought I would end up in a corporate setting like a Fortune 500 company. I started out my career working in hospitals as an x-ray technician and later, an ultrasound technician and from there, life just kept evolving. I was living in Dayton, Ohio, where there was a large medical system that offered a medical sonography program and since I had experience in this industry, I was brought on to teach in the program. So, I went from working in the hospital as an ultrasound technician to being an associate professor in the medical sonography program at Kettering College of Medical Arts. 

After working in this role for a while, I realized I was a very successful fundraiser because I was able to talk companies into donating equipment for students’ education. So, after seeing this, the hospital then picked me to work in their foundation, where I continued to develop my experiences in fundraising. Fast forward to a few more foundations I worked with, I pivoted to a private foundation, where I was able to now work on the other side of the equation; I was no longer raising funds, rather, I was now getting to distribute them. After about 10 years in this role, my husband and I moved to Atlanta because he actually worked for NCR VOYIX. In Atlanta, I continued working for mission-driven fundraising organizations until a year or so later, NCR brought me on to help reactivate the Foundation. 

The biggest takeaway I learned from my journey was that it always pays to be open to possibilities. Sometimes people graduate from college and have a specific vision for their career, but I think it’s really important to be open to every kind of possibility that comes along. Be open because you never know where one opportunity will take you and in each of those jobs that I held, I learned so much in every position and I really feel like that’s what has brought me to where I am now.

“The biggest takeaway I learned from my journey was that it always pays to be open to possibilities.”

For people who may not know what the NCR VOYIX Foundation is, could you speak to this and to the role you play there?

So the NCR VOYIX Foundation has actually been in place since around 1953. 

With that, NCR has always had a place in the community through corporate giving from the very beginning. If you look back to the history of Dayton (where the company was founded) and the history of NCR, you will really see that relationship where NCR did everything possible to make their community a better place. That’s really always been one of the biggest purposes of a corporate foundation: to support the community and in that, to support the employees and customers in those communities. So, at that time it was a very typical corporate foundation but as NCR has evolved, so has the Foundation. When I first came into this role nine years ago, the board of the Foundation consciously took a step back to reconsider what we want to focus on as our priorities. We decided on health, education and micro-finance as our primary areas at that time. With changes in the organization, we see changes in the Foundation, especially in the year of 2021, where there has been a surge in growth for the NCR Foundation. This year after taking another step back to decide what was most important, we chose to focus on the areas of STEM education, economic development and disaster relief. 

What inspires you the most about fundraising?

It’s always been important to me to feel like what I am doing in my professional career is making a difference. 

I think this came from the example my parents set for me through their lives, filled with volunteer work and giving back to their own communities. This example they set made me want to give back and that was largely a reason I went into healthcare initially in my career. Then when life put me on the track towards fundraising and helping to facilitate community growth, that just seemed perfect to me. If everybody decided to do something to give back to the community, even just once or twice a year, it would make such a big difference and all of our communities would be better.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?

The biggest challenge is deciding where to make the investments...

...because there are so many organizations doing such meaningful, important work already in the US and globally. To make that decision easier, we’ve put much more clarity and focus on what our objectives are for the Foundation. Along with these focus areas that guide our decisions, we also look critically at how to protect and grow our brand through the organizations that we fund because we want to be proud of the organizations we choose to support. We want to focus on projects that are very clear and have measurable outcomes so that we know our funds are creating change in the communities they impact.

Shifting gears, what makes you want to stay at NCR VOYIX?

All of the different people I get to work with and meet both in NCR VOYIX and externally. 

I get a lot of energy from being with people and getting to collaborate with others. Externally, I get the opportunity to learn about so many organizations, the work they do and the passion they have for these non-profits. That is something I really love about my role. I also have to say, in my experience, I have seen NCR employees show so much heart for their communities, through volunteer work and the conversations I share with them. These partnerships and relationships I have, with both my employees and customers, keep me so excited to come into the office and stay with NCR.

How would you describe the internal culture of NCR VOYIX?

That’s a really tough one but I think it’s exactly why NCR VOYIX has survived for so long.

It’s partly our products and what we offer, but you can’t be successful simply by selling products if you don’t have a culture of people that feel supported. I have noticed especially in the last few years that the culture of NCR is changing and I love the energy we have right now. It’s an energy of inclusivity and learning. NCR employees are really trying to be open and to learn about each other. We have so many different perspectives on board that each offer different learning opportunities. When you look at our employees, you can really see that people want to help each other learn and grow, which is one of my favorite aspects of being at NCR.

“If everybody decided to do something to give back to the community, even just once or twice a year, it would make such a big difference and all of our communities would be better.”

Outside of work where are we most likely to find you or what are you most often doing?

Family is really important to me, so whenever I can, I get a lot of family time in. 

I have a daughter here and in Los Angeles but whenever we can, we all get together. I also have to mention yoga. That’s how I destress, through my yoga classes and hiking. And of course, I also love traveling.