Gail Evans is an accomplished technology executive, with a LinkedIn profile full of leadership positions at Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Currently, she is the global chief information officer at Mercer, a human resources consulting company with more than 22,000 employees based in 43 countries.
But before landing a corner office at some of the world's greatest companies, Evans began her career mopping those corporate floors.
"I always knew I wanted something better in my life though," she tells CNBC Make It.
Evans was raised by her mother with five other siblings in Rochester. "I was very happy being poor, because I didn't know any better," she says. "We didn't have computers, we didn't sit in front of computers, we learned to play together — I was happy. But I knew that there was something more than where I lived," she says.
After high school, Evans spent three years at Hobart and William Smith College in New York, but left during her junior year to help support her family with the custodian job.
"I built a lot of character as a custodian," she says in 2015 commencement address at Nazareth College. "It is amazing how people treat you when you are there to pick their garbage up every day."