Since we last profiled her in 2019, Darcy Lee has made a career transition into IT executive leadership. As the COO of AIS, Lee is responsible for corporate process oversight and development and implementation of strategic goals. “Although I still support sales, my main focus is on performance, process, and making sure we are all working toward a common goal,” she explained. “We know where we want to go, but we also need to measure where we are and how we get there.” Part of this depends on making sure each member of the team is provided an opportunity to use their unique gifts and talents. “At our core we believe in people,” Lee said. “We talk about AIS as standing for ‘all in to serve.’” That mantra applies to internal culture as well as the company’s approach to client service.
“We have to consistently see beyond where our clients see and help them excel,” Lee explained. AIS is an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) that is passionate about optimizing business process, productivity, culture, and customer and employee experiences through the strategic adoption of digital technologies. “We don’t just look at organizations as clients or potential clients in a closed system, but also seek to understand how these companies are connected to their employees, clients and communities.”
The company’s perspective on IT as a service requires a commitment to diversity that is built in from the top down. “Our company is built, by design, to include diverse perspectives,” Darcy said. That commitment starts with race and ethnicity, but is extended to employees’ backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. As the only woman on the company’s executive team, Lee has felt the power of full inclusion on a daily basis. “Our CEO, Lamont Hatcher, very much understands the importance of women in executive positions, both from a financial/profitability perspective and from a diversity perspective. He values and appreciates my input and leadership. Even when our opinions differ, I know I’m heard and seen.”
Lee shared that AIS became especially essential during the pandemic as many organizations realized the value and necessity of information technology. “Suddenly many departments at almost every company were asking for IT solutions, instead of perhaps looking at IT as a burden to be dealt with. COVID had a profound impact because it made the services we offer more desirable and more visible. In Indianapolis especially, when you hear tech, you might think of software as a service (SaaS). We sit on the infrastructure side, which is the essential backbone to making those products function.” She cited automation, cloud migration and optimization, and data security as three areas where support has been in high demand. “When companies need multiple systems or applications to talk to one another to move their business forward, that functionality needs to be designed and implemented, supported by strong infrastructure, and secure.”
In addition to helping AIS achieve internal and external goals through strategic process alignment, Darcy has been using similar strengths to support the Women & Hi Tech board as an Active Emeritus. “As a former President and someone who’s passionate about our mission, it’s admittedly hard to let go and take a step back. We have come so far but there is still so much to be done. Over time, my goal is to focus my efforts on supporting others in their roles and working on long-term initiatives that can expand and strengthen our impact,” she explained. Since Women & Hi Tech has an all-volunteer Board of Directors, there is always an area of focus that can be supported. “Large initiatives like expanding our footprint to support more women in STEM and attract more girls to STEM fields across the state take time. We also need to ensure we are listening to our members to understand their needs. Our active Board members already dedicate so much time to the organization in their specific roles and there isn’t always enough time to do the “more” we want to do, so this is where I feel I can be the greatest benefit to the organization.”
Lee considers this focus on growth in alignment with the desires of members an essential part of Women & Hi Tech’s mission. “I want members to feel supported, inspired, and encouraged. Above all else I see Women & Hi Tech as a support network.” She also wants each member to become better-connected to their own individual ability to effect change. This applies to both men and women. “I would love to see more men as members,” she shared. “We can’t just talk to ourselves (women) and expect the necessary change to happen. We have to include men in the conversation.” Additionally, she added, “For women to truly be supported to be successful, we have to pivot our understanding of what success looks like, and I think the pandemic has made that possible. Women carry a lot of responsibility outside of work and as they come up in their careers need more flexibility. As a society we now recognize that the day-to-day demands on our time are different for every person, and that success can still be achieved without a rigid adherence to a 9-5.” She concluded by observing that an essential part of diversity, equity, and inclusion is recognizing people for who they are—including their unique needs. “People don’t fit into boxes. And so when you allow that, and have less rigidity around the concept of what success has to look like, people can be happier and more productive. We can model what success looks like differently for the next generation.”