Teresa Duran

Teresa Duran

Chief Information Officer at Make-A-Wish America

Make-a-Wish UK
Chief Information Officer at Make-A-Wish America

Teresa Duran, the Chief Information Officer at Make-A-Wish America, brings a humble approach to transformative leadership in the technology sector. With a rich background that intertwines chemistry and technology, Duran carved a unique niche in the corporate landscape, leveraging her diverse expertise to drive significant organisational changes across various industries.

Beginning her career with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, emphasising biochemistry, Duran's journey is a testament to the power of continuous learning and adaptation. She initially worked as an analytical and organic chemist in biotech and pharmaceuticals, including a significant tenure at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Her foray into technology began here, marking the start of an evolutionary path toward leadership roles in technology.

Her role at Make-A-Wish America, a non-profit organisation undergoing its largest business transformation in over four decades, is a fitting culmination of her unique career trajectory. As Duran describes, her leadership is characterised by guiding organisations through substantial changes and business transformations. She is known for her innovative approaches to overhauling traditional business models and revamping core operational strategies. Her role oversees all technology services, including software development, business intelligence, product innovation, infrastructure engineering, communication services, process optimization, cybersecurity, and risk management. This expertise made her an ideal choice for Make-A-Wish America during its critical phase of transformation, which she joined in October 2021. 

Duran's tenure at Make-A-Wish America has been marked by significant challenges, mainly due to the timing amid the coronavirus pandemic. She acknowledges the complexities of this period, noting that it required a comprehensive change in operations, including adopting agile methodologies and extensive training and communication strategies at national and local chapter levels. Her commitment during this period was nothing short of a personal sacrifice, indicative of her dedication and resilience.

A key aspect of Duran's leadership philosophy is her balance between visionary thinking and pragmatic execution. She is passionate about inspiring and guiding organisations to envisage new possibilities while being hands-on in realising these visions. Duran acknowledges simplicity in her approach, continually seeking ways to streamline processes and decision-making. She believes in creating high-performing teams, focusing not just on embracing learning and failure but also on her team members' personal and professional growth.

Facing challenges head-on, Duran views them as opportunities, particularly in her role as a CIO, which she believes are among the most complicated and misunderstood in the C-suite. She advocates for integrating technology into company strategies, emphasising the importance of not relegating technology to an afterthought in decision-making.

Duran draws inspiration from her personal life, particularly her husband and son. She credits her husband for his unwavering support and insightful advice and her son for providing profound feedback that has significantly influenced her life and priorities.

Among the best pieces of advice she has received and shared with those she mentors is the importance of striving for more in one's career, continuously assessing personal growth and impact, and ensuring alignment with personal goals. She notes the significance of reassessing one's position and aspirations annually, a practice central to personal and professional development.

Duran’s journey and leadership at Make-A-Wish encapsulate innovation, strategic foresight, and personal growth. Her story is a powerful example for aspiring leaders in the technology sector and beyond, demonstrating how diverse experiences and continuous learning can lead to remarkable achievements and meaningful impact.

Read the full story HERE.

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