Photographic portrait of Yvonne McGill

How Dell’s Yvonne McGill found success through risks and relationships

In our Real leaders. Real stories. series, Dell Technologies CFO Yvonne McGill shares how each career experience offers lessons and opportunities.

A chance encounter with a former colleague at a Virginia shopping mall in the 1990s led to a pivotal decision in Yvonne McGill’s career. A job opening in Round Rock, Texas. A cross-country move with two young kids and a husband in the Navy.

Yvonne took the offer.

“We thought, ‘The worst thing that’s going to happen is we’re going to have a different experience,” she says. “And we can always come back to Virginia.”

That erstwhile and once again colleague was Tom Sweet, who later became chief financial officer at Dell Technologies. More than 26 years since their reunion, Yvonne now sits in the CFO role, having served as corporate controller, chief accounting officer and in executive finance roles internationally. Moving to Texas was not the last time she packed her bags.

Embracing change and taking calculated risks became Yvonne’s modus operandi. She took job placements in Canada and Singapore and learned about leading dispersed global teams. She also learned about her limits.

Remain open to change

Throughout her career, Yvonne saw change as an opportunity to learn, and learning as a value itself. 

“Sometimes you learn what you want to do, or how to do something. And sometimes you learn what you don’t want to do and/or how not to do something.”

The job in Canada, McGill’s first international assignment, was a dream. 

“One of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my entire career. What I didn’t love was the fact that my family wasn’t together.” 

Yvonne’s two grade-school daughters relocated with her, but her husband was only able to be there on weekends due to his sales job. Yvonne knew the arrangement wasn’t working, and her daughters confirmed it. One night her then-fourth grader told her she felt like she had no parents since moving to Canada.

It was a wake-up call. Yvonne talked with mentors, wrestling with the fact that she had made a commitment and now wanted to back out. She decided commitment to herself and family came first.

Yvonne returned to Round Rock and a role in internal audit that was not her dream job — at first. Once again, her willingness and timing paid off. Soon, she was tapped to stand in as the acting head of audit. She relished the chance to interact with the board and executive leadership team. 

“In hindsight, that was probably one of the best things. It turned out to be different than the experiences I’d had, and it filled a gap. It helped shape me and prove to myself that I could play different roles.”

Learn to balance career and personal life

Yvonne values personal fulfillment and family as highly as professional success, and she’s learned how important it is to make this point known.


“Family is my priority, and Dell is an enabler to me having a great family.”


Yvonne is the executive sponsor of two of Dell’s employee resource groups — Family Balance and Women in Action Network, which she helped found more than 20 years ago.


Today, when asked to give advice to young women looking to make it to the highest levels of success, Yvonne advises them first to be great at their job, whatever that job is, and don’t rush. 


“Your career is really long. Don’t rush things — and that includes how you define success. No one has the same career journey.”


On top of that, she adds, make sure you communicate your aspirations clearly.


“What I learned later in my career that I wish I had known earlier was, you shouldn’t assume someone knows what you want to do in your career or that they know what you’re interested in.” 


A few years after she returned from Canada, another international assignment arose for Yvonne — this time in Singapore, another opportunity she didn’t want to pass up. Now she had three kids: a kindergartener, a senior in high school and one in college at the University of Texas.


“When I went to Singapore, I absolutely played the cards differently.”


She agreed to the move for two years. She navigated cultural differences and remote relationships, exposing her to a whole new world of organizational dynamics, and an appreciation for working in others’ time zones.

Cultivate relationships and authenticity

During her 26-plus years at Dell, Yvonne has honed her skills in active listening, resilience and adaptability. She’s learned when to trust herself over the voices of others and when she owes it to herself to listen. 

“One of my quotes is, ‘Feedback is a gift.’ You get to decide what you do with the gift you’re given.”

She advises aspiring leaders to network, listen, learn continuously, and be open to new roles and experiences. Every job, every experience, regardless of how you perceive it initially, is an opportunity to learn something new.

“Don’t just do the same thing over and over again when you’re given a new opportunity. You never know where the next role is going to lead you.”


While some people map out their career and plan for success, Dell CFO Yvonne McGill has found her career to be more fun and fulfilling by saying yes to intriguing opportunities and letting her career unfold. She has moved with her family around the country and around the world. When faced with change, remember: “The worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll learn something, you’re going to make new relationships, and it’s not a forever decision.” Unless you want it to be.

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