CLEARWATER – Girls Inc. of Pinellas honored Tech Data Vice President and U.S. Controller Tracy Veillette as 2014 STEM Woman of the Year at its STEM luncheon on May 30 at Feather Sound Country Club.
The annual event brings awareness to the community of the need for STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – education for girls while honoring a local role model with a distinguished STEM career and dedication to paving the way for young women of tomorrow.
Veillette grew up in Tampa before moving to Greensboro, North Carolina, with her family, where she graduated from high school in 1985.
As a young girl, she was always drawn to math.
“I think I liked that it was more black and white versus things more creative,” she said. “I liked that this is the way things work and there’s an answer, a right answer.”
And her father taught her that she could do anything she wanted and wasn’t bound by gender stereotypes. She fished; she hunted; she mowed the lawn.
“My dad, he was good,” Veillette said. “He made it so that I didn’t know I was a girl and wasn’t supposed to do certain things … I didn’t just do girly things. He helped me have confidence.”
After high school, she headed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she initially majored in math. But she eventually followed in her father’s footsteps and majored in business, later earning a master’s in accounting from UNC.
In the late 1980s, she was one of few women studying these disciplines
“It wasn’t exactly encouraged to be a math major unless you were going to teach elementary school,” she said. “That was all that was encouraged. But I wanted to do more than that.”
During college, she interned at IBM, and once she graduated she moved back to Tampa, where her parents had relocated.
“I always wanted to come back to Tampa,” she said. “It’s a more diverse city than Greensboro.”
Veillette took a job in public accounting as an audit manager at Price Waterhouse Coopers, where she worked for eight years before moving over to Tech Data.
“It was very different from what I was used to doing,” she said. “Public accounting is a public service that has higher margin business and low volume. Then I came to Tech Data where there’s a low margin, high volume, and it’s very fast paced.”
She started out as director of vendor accounting at Tech Data in 1998. She worked closely with vendors, building relationships with them.
“It really broadened my accounting side by introducing me to the business side in addition to accounting,” she said. “You can’t be a good controller without understanding the business side.”
She became U.S. controller for the company in 2000. Eventually, Veillette was also named vice president as her role expanded. She is responsible for overseeing all U.S. accounting, controlling and financial analysis.
She’s also committed to assisting organizations that cater to women and children.
“Part of what I try to do is give back, especially to women’s things,” she said.
Tech Data recently started its first employee research group, Ladies of Tech Data. Veillette was elected chairman of the organization and mentors a number of female employees at the company.
She currently serves on the boards of the American Society of Women Accountants (ASWA) and American Woman’s Society of CPAs (AWSCPA). Additionally, she is a community leader serving on the boards of the Children’s Dream Fund and YMCA.