Ellen Hancock on Technology, Leadership, and Service

Michael Rich and Ellen Hancock at the JIE Board meeting in April 2015

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

Donor Profile Ellen Hancock

Ellen Hancock has led the RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment (JIE) Advisory Board for three years; she has been a board member for seven. In June 2015, we spoke with Ellen about her experience on the board, how her long career in technology informs her service, and why she believes in RAND.

How did you initially learn about the RAND JIE Advisory Board?

Through Jerry Greenwald, the former CEO of United Airlines. I was on an Aetna board with him, and he introduced me to RAND. He has extensive experience in transportation. He would sit in a JIE Advisory Board meeting and take his transportation expertise—his love—and transform it into a question or comment on a completely different subject. Hopefully I've done the same thing from a technology perspective.

You have a long track record in the technology sector—first at IBM, then at Apple, and most recently as the cofounder and president of Acquicor. What leadership lessons have you learned as a woman in technology?

As a female in technology, you need the support not only of management, but also of your peers, and of those who work for you. The collegial aspect is important. Loving what you're doing is also really important. Your life is too short to spend time on something you don't care about.

What are the technology trends you're seeing in RAND's work?

We have a tremendous ability to understand really valid trends based on relevant data. At RAND, there are experts who can perform deep analysis on data captured by Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, as well as by medical records. RAND also looks into security and privacy and how technology can be used for or against us. How do you make some data available, but protect privacy? RAND can help address that question.

Why do you believe in RAND?

I find it intriguing and invigorating to hear from RAND researchers about their work. It expands my ability to question and research things. RAND's example teaches us not to rely exclusively on intuition.

I have enjoyed my role on the Advisory Board immensely. I am dealing with very intelligent people, very well-meaning people who are committed to the truth, not just to finishing a research paper. I think there are very few organizations in our country that address so many serious issues with the rigor and expertise that characterize RAND's work.

Read more about the JIE Advisory Board