JuneAn Lanigan: Dreaming in the Unimaginable

JuneAn Lanigan: Dreaming in the Unimaginable

When JuneAn Lanigan joined her daughter at her school to celebrate winning “Star of the Week,” the other first graders were eager to meet the new person in the room. When the kids asked where her mom worked, JuneAn’s daughter rolled her eyes.

“Data, data, data, all she ever talks about is data.”

Unfazed, JuneAn explained that she understands when eyes glaze over at the mention of “data.” While she likes numbers, she also considers herself a people person. In school she majored in social psychology and minored in math. JuneAn initially imagined working in HR after college, but, due to a recession, those options were slim. Instead, she leaned on her math skills and pursued work in finance.

She navigated to enterprise data management after discovering a knack for explaining data. With her dual background in social psychology and math, JuneAn understood both the spreadsheets of numbers and how to present them in ways that made sense to employees across the company.

This has been JuneAn’s hallmark work at Western Digital: both interpreting and explaining reams of diverse data and digitizing this process via a virtual data platform. JuneAn understood that creating this user experience entailed designing the virtual office for the next generation of the company—the digital home base for employees working from the office and especially employees working remotely.

When COVID hit, this platform allowed Western Digital to transition smoothly to at-home work. In fact, Western Digital was left uniquely stable due in part to the work of JuneAn and her team. While other companies grappled with moving everyday operations online, Western Digital grappled with moving online operations forward. She has since been selected as VP of Information Technology, where she has begun “futureproofing” Western Digital’s future workplace.

Outside her VP of IT role, JuneAn prepares Western Digital for smooth entry into the future of the workplace as co-chair of the Women’s Impact Network and head of the company’s new women’s mentorship program for 240 women IT employees across the world. JuneAn asks her mentees the same question her old mentor once asked her, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

“You bring your whole self to work. Therefore, in order to figure out what your career goals are, you need to get grounded in where you came from,” JuneAn said. “What’s safe, what’s scary, and what’s unimaginable? To dream in the unimaginable informs what you need to do today.” JuneAn prompts her mentees to dream in the unimaginable, then works backward toward action steps, data point by data point.

Raised by a single mother business executive, JuneAn was lucky to have many women she could look up to. She sees her mentorship work less as role modeling and more as active listening.

“Our women are on nonprofit boards. We’re on for-profit boards. We’ve got incredible professional networks that really can benefit the company. But we have to have a way to tap into all of that, which means we need to be having conversations with women.”

With her mentor program, JuneAn aims to institutionalize these conversations. Western Digital has proven to be fertile ground for these seeds. “What I really love is, not only are we giving women the opportunity to attend conferences,” JuneAn said of Western Digital, “we’re putting them on the stage.”

JuneAn leads from a global, virtual stage—a seemingly impossible evolution from her post-grad years spent entering finance spreadsheets. But the crowd is not so anonymous and vast when she focuses on each face. In the end, JuneAn’s dynamic career comes down to her own unimaginable faith; she believes in people.

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