Women in Technology Conference
The 22nd Annual Women in Technology Conference was held remotely on Friday, February 26, 2021. The conference’s theme was “Dream IT, Find IT, Love IT.”
Dr. Rich Metters, the department head of the INFO Dept., gave the official welcome. He congratulated the participants for attending the conference because women still need to be encouraged for STEM fields.
Tamara Fields, the Austin office managing director and unit director of operations for Accenture, emphasized finding our own voice to be successful in life, work, and in general. Know that growth and development are part of that. Each person needs to know that changes happen along a chosen path, accept disruptions along that path, and allow yourself to find a better path or even multiple paths. Learn to be adjustable. In primarily male-oriented areas, she advocates for realizing that men are human too and are not our enemy. Embrace people and be inclusive of everyone. Avoid negative thoughts and find the good in all things.
Anu Krishnan, the head of Information, Data & Analytics at Shell, spoke about the company’s use of technology with renewable technologies. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are critical in renewable energy alternatives being explored by Shell. Ms. Krishnan spoke about brand development with the Performance/Image/Exposure pie chart. She stressed that the exposure component is actually the most important though people put the least effort here. Who knows you is critical in building a strong network. Her last thoughts were for the attendees to know our own worth, know our value to the company, stress the skills that you have since most companies do not use all of the skills that are identified, and ask to be visible since networking and mentors are critical for one’s success.
Rhonda Fisher, the program manager of Data and Analytics and senior IT manager with Bell Flight Textron, focused her comments on giving advice for success. One’s success needs to start with 1) being “SMART” – being grounded and intentional in building our career, 2) knowing our interests, talents and nature, 3) being our own career architect, and 4) continuing to build our career. She stated that career building in much like a honeycomb, which has exceptional strength with minimal effort, is malleable and perfected with heat, and has the most efficient use of space and storage opportunities. These qualities apply to any person wanting to build an effective career.
Roundtable discussions were held between each speaker. The breakout room groups focused on discussion questions related to laying the right foundation and using building blocks.
The 23rd Annual Women in Technology Conference will be held on Friday, February 25, 2022, hopefully in person.
Women in Technology 2020 Conference
The 21st annual Women in Technology Conference was held on Friday, February 28, 2020, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. The conference’s theme, “Portraits of Success,” highlighted female pioneers in information technology with framed biographies of 38 different women distributed on the tables. Six women in the 1940s were spotlighed in the video documentary, “The Computers: The Remarkable Story of the ENIAC Programmers.”
Ms. Theresa Phinney led a fun Kahoots game regarding various female leaders and events. Ms. Jackie Rosenthal, MS-MIS, Class of ’21, won the game. Her prize was a gift card to Hopdoddy Burger Bar.
Three exciting female executives gave presentations about their careers and words of wisdom for the attendees’ careers. The speakers were as follows:
- Ms. Shachella James, Vice President, Technology Operations, CenterPoint Energy
- Ms. Shefali Kapoor Patel, Founder and Director, Vijay Computer Academy
- Ms. Elaine Mendoza, Founder, President, and CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc
Ms. James encouraged the participants to identify a vision for themselves. Once the vision exists, empower yourself by getting rid of inhibiting thoughts, creating opportunities to build relationships and meet your image, and take opportunities to stretch one’s assignments and experiences. By doing these steps, a woman can get her “slice of the pie.”
Ms. Kapoor Patel discussed how her passion for information technology led her through uncertain times. She always found direction when she utilized her information technology skills. She stressed that each person can be a world changer by taking the following actions:
- Investing in yourself through courses, workshops, and online classes. What stays with a person are their skills and knowledge.
- Finding a mentor or sponsor; learning through their and your mistakes
- Networking, networking, and networking
- “Dream big, work hard, and you will succeed.”
Ms. Mendoza stressed that business success centers on team members and customers all coming together around similar values and principles, working towards that success. Discipline is needed to align one’s work with their values. Be sure to define your own success; do not let others define you. Learn from your mistakes and failures to make those experiences your miracles and future. Do not be married to specific outcomes because there are many other great possibilities. Ms. Mendoza’s main points were 1) resilience, persistence, and belief in yourself – “you be you” – leads to success, and 2) the bigger the dream, the more lessons you learn along the way.
In addition to the many door prizes, the conference attendees enjoyed the opportunities to take a professional headshot and to have fun pictures taken with the Magic Mirror booth.