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From Janitor to Chief Executive: How One Woman Worked Her Way to the Top

Photo: Courtesy of Mercer

Gail Evans began her career as a full-time student with a part-time job as a janitor at Eastman Kodak. Fascinated with technology and software engineering, Evans is now the global chief digital officer at Mercer.

“I always say, be careful who you meet along the way because you never know, the person who was dumping your trash could be your manager,” said Evans. “I live my life by respecting everyone regardless of the role that they have.”

The journey

After graduating with a traditional undergraduate degree, Evans met an influential mentor who gave her an opportunity to be a software engineer. “From there, I would take on the most difficult tasks or initiatives that were thought to be impossible to deliver, and nail them,” she said. “And it was a great sacrifice, but I guess at the time I thought I had to prove myself to other people.” Evans explains that she felt the need to show herself as an equal in her field. “I was considered not to be professional for so long, but I excelled in my career.” Evans always knew that she wanted to become a technology executive. “I fell in in love with DOS, and from there, the internet. It has always been my passion, so I worked my way up.”


From working with recruiters, to spending time at Microsoft, to landing at Mercer, Evans is at a point in her career where it is “more about purpose.”

One thing she has learned, and her first piece of advice for those getting started, is that it’s okay to be yourself. “I wanted to be accepted, maybe not accepted for who I am, but something I thought would resonate with people in the room,” she said. “So, a valuable lesson for me was that it’s okay to be a strong African American woman in technology. It’s really okay to just be me. I worked hard at it.” And finally, don’t forget, “You must have fun along the way, otherwise it’s boring.”

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