Hoya Highlight: Christina Gaberino Van Houten (C’89)

Christina Gaberino Van Houten

Chief Strategy Officer, Mimecast

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Doing my first book signing after my first big keynote in Las Vegas

What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?

Learned that it's not enough to be right

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

Tech is undergoing a massive transformation, both at a technical and business level. Pricing and delivery strategies, or the way that technology is consumed by businesses, is completely changing. As a result, the way products are developed and delivered has to realize a paradigm shift as well. As always, some businesses will be able to achieve the change while others won't make it. Meanwhile, all sorts of new players will emerge—you never know who's going to win, whether it's a particular technology, business model, or company, so you have to stay on your toes.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally?

Do layoffs of people on my team who had become close friends and are just great people

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Stay in the game. Many women bail once they have kids and things get tough, particularly if you have a spouse with a high-powered career. I'm so darn grateful that Paul (husband) didn't let me quit. He's given me so many amazing gifts, but that's at the top of the list.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

On the surface, what I do now seems entirely disconnected from my education (running a high-tech company vs. being a government and theology major), but the foundation Georgetown provided me couldn't be more relevant. The core frameworks—how to think, write, communicate, interrelate—are really what make or break anyone's career. Beyond that, any particular "thing"—e.g. domain in an industry, product, or other subject—can be learned as long as you've mastered the core frameworks and are entrepreneurial in how you go about seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges. In the end, what wins over the long haul is the ability to find a way and practicing a serving-focused approach to leadership, which are both things that Georgetown instilled in me.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Rev. Otto Hentz's "Problem of God" course. Otto is an amazing man and has shaped so many in such a profound way.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

I have so many! Probably Senior Weeks (yes, plural because I somehow horned my way into 1987 and 1988 before my own in 1989). Complete debauchery, but ridiculous fun for days on end with the best people on the planet.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from on a daily basis?

A close male friend/colleague who grew up with nothing and a million insurmountable obstacles who's become the most amazing person/father/coach/professional/athlete/scholar. He blows me away every day and what I've learned from him over the decade that I've known him has changed my life in more ways than I can get my head around.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My husband, Paul, a fellow GU grad (C'88, L'92). He's so darn smart and so darn good. Plus, I've never met anyone with a stronger sense of self-confidence yet completely lacking in ego—it's almost a superhuman combination of traits. Meanwhile, his relentless pushing of me to do more and more and more with my career, even when I wanted to bail and when it completely inconvenienced him was a completely selfless act most (or no) men would make. Somehow, I realized he would be an amazing partner at 20 and feel amazed at how true that's all turned out to be.

What is on your desk right now?

Because I've always worked remotely and traveled most weeks, the concept of a "desk" is somewhat irrelevant to me. As a result, I've made about 4 different spaces in my house a "desk" because I can't sit still! I'm on the phone and computer excessively, so I do my best to pace and roam and just move around.

Who is your favorite author?

Ayn Rand. The only book I've read twice is The Fountainhead. She's an amazing genius. I could go on and on about why.

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn't live without?

Working out. Most days I get at least an hour of jumping around like an idiot. In my early 40s, I learned how to do what I now call ADHD workouts, which might include any combination of jumping rope, burpees, pushups, rowing, sprinting, lifting, etc. It keeps my head active and clear, my emotions intact, my body strong, and life in perspective. Plus, it just makes me feel like a badass.

What are your words to live by?

1. Deliver. 2. Stay out of politics. 3. Don't lose your head.