Women in IT Conference

March 1, 2019

20th annual WIT conference – Beelieve it or Not!

Attendees at the annual Women in Technology Conference celebrated the 20th anniversary “Beelieve it or Not”. With a theme of hardworking bees, the conference brought together women to network and learn from others currently building their careers in information technology. It was hosted by the Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS) on March 1, 2019 in the Annenberg Center at George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University.

Female students with an interest in information technology participated in round table discussions on topics such as lessons learned from senior executives, managers, professionals and new graduates in the workforce. They discussed advice such as leadership, work-life, and new technology trends.

Reveille greeted at attendees as they arrived with photo opportunities.  GM and Tom Light Chevy provided a Chevy Traverse for arrivals with signage for the conference and tie in to automotive industry technology.

After a welcome speech by Executive Professor and CMIS Director, Robin Starnes, the conference attendees heard from three keynote speakers:

  • Jerrie Kertz ’82, Senior Vice President at AT&T: MY Journey at AT&T ….a story still in the making
  • Carol Clements, CTO Pizza Hut: From Phones to Planes to Pizza: Using Technology to Serve Customers in Any Industry
  • Michele Salinas, Director at GM: It’s Your Career – Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat

In her presentation, Kertz advised women to “broaden their perspective, speak up, and embrace change”.  She also promoted the use of mentors and willingness to lend a hand.  She related career changes to lattice work, rather than twists and turns.

Clements focused on “customer service” in every industry.  She provided insight on the use of machine learning to deliver pizza, hot and on time.  Robot pizza makers and self-driving cars are in the not too distant future for Pizza Hut!

Salinas closed by focusing on “putting yourself in the driver’s seat”.  On your way to your next destination “accelerate when you need to, honk when you need to be noticed, and reflect in your rear view mirror but look back front to continue on”.

Dr. Eli Jones, Dean of Mays Business School, delivered a formal welcome to the conference and spoke of diversity efforts at Texas A&M University.   Recognition of the founding members of the conference was provided in a little “mystery of our history” by Starnes.

Door prizes were distributed through-out the day, with donations from CMIS Board Member Companies as well as local businesses in the area.  A Katie Decker Century Tree pendant from David Gardner’s, $100 gift cards from Textron, Pizza Hut gift cards, CC Creations Aggie basket, TAMU honey baskets, books, and many other gifts were among the prizes. All guests received gift bags from CMIS as well.

CMIS will celebrate its 21st annual Women in IT Conference on February 28, 2020.

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A recap of the 19th annual conference is below:

Female students with an interest in information technology participated in roundtable discussions on topics such as lessons learned from senior executives, managers, professionals and new graduates in the workforce. They also discussed advice such as finding a job, career building, finding a mentor and new technology trends.

After a welcome speech by Executive Professor and CMIS Director Robin Starnes, the conference attendees heard from three keynote speakers:

  • Amy Suhl, CIO, Shell Oil – #Makethefuture & ‘Aha’ Moments in Leadership
  • Diane Schwarz, VP and CIO, Textron – Tech Trends From My Career to Yours
  • Tammy Hermann, Director of IT, H-E-B – Mind-Blowing Tech – at the grocery store?

In her presentation, Suhl advised the women to “get clear on what you will be measured on.” This is done through credibility, reliability, and intimacy, which all culminates into trust. Key components of leadership Suhl spoke on were performance, image, and exposure.

When sharing “Tech Trends,” Schwarz shed light on self-healing, shared insights from security in the past, explained the concept of how technology constantly changes, and highlighted the benefits of mentoring and listening.

Hermann’s presentation on “Mind-Blowing Tech – at the grocery store?” outlined Gig economies, the desire for conversation, short attention spans, and how tech

The conference ended with the announcement of door prize winners including two iPads provided by the Texas A&M IT department, a Katie Decker pendant donated by David Gardner’s Jewelers, $500 in scholarship funds, and many more. All guests received gift bags as well.

Feedback on the event was positive, with guests commenting that “the ratio of company representatives to students ratio at the tables was perfect this year,” and that the “speakers were great, but the best part was interacting with the students and being able to trade advice.”

CMIS will celebrate its 20th annual Women in IT Conference on March 1, 2019, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.

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A recap of the 18th annual conference is below:

The 18th annual Women in Information Technology Conference was held on March 3, 2017 in the Memorial Student Center on the Texas A&M University (TAMU) campus. The conference is hosted by the Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS). The theme, Digital Footprints, focused on all the places we leave our digital footprints.

Current students from Texas A&M, Blinn College, Prairie View A&M, Houston Christian School, and TAMU-Texarkana, information systems professionals, and CMIS Board members were in attendance. A variety of industries from consulting, education, financial, manufacturing and oil & gas were represented by TAMU former students and CMIS Board members in the MIS (management of information systems) field.

Following a welcome by Ms. Robin Starnes, Director of CMIS, Dr. Rich Metters, Head of the Information Systems and Operations Management Department, presented some facts from his latest publication, Gender Equality in Operations Management.   Then the conference opened up with an “ice-breaker” networking session.   Roundtables of networking sessions were conducted three different times, allowing attendees to move to different tables and network with others.  A wide variety of topics included What inspires or motivates you? to What does your typical day look like?

The sold out crowd of close to 200 attendees enjoyed three keynote presentations.

  • Brandie Claborn, Vice President of World Wide Communications at Intel Security, provided an informative and timely presentation on the Cybersecurity industry; the need to fill open positions and the strides at Texas A&M in the Cybersecurity area.
  • Christine Rose, CIO and Head of Ecommerce at Kendra Scott, highlighted The Power of Passion and Perseverance in her career as well as Kendra’s own statement, NO is only a suggestion.
  • Stephanie Kinser, Senior Vice President Enterprise Solution Engineering, at Salesforce concluded the speakers with Disruption, Innovation, and Empowerment in the Age of Equality in the age of the technologies that affect our lives, such as the cloud.

A wide variety of prizes and gift cards were awarded to attendees graciously donated by Anadarko, CC Creations, Chevron, Pine Boutique, PwC, Cato, and GM.  In addition, CMIS provided scholarships to five lucky TAMU students as well as book prizes, The Secrets Leaders Keep and The Confidence Code.  TAMU Information Technology donated two Air 128GB Wi-Fi IPADS and David Gardner’s donated a Katie Decker Century Tree necklace.   Every attendee received a surprise yellow box of fashion earrings donated from Kendra Scott.

CMIS Board members sponsoring the conference included Exabyte Members – ConocoPhillips, Deloitte, GM, HP Enterprise, Noble Energy, Phillips 66, and Shell; Petabyte Members – Anadarko, Chevron, ExxonMobil, HP Inc., National Instruments and PwC; Terabyte Members – Charles Schwab, Protiviti, and USAA.