Attendees at the annual Women in Technology Conference celebrated the 20th anniversary “Beelieve it or Not.” With a theme of hard-working 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 in the Annenberg Center at George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University.

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 discussed advice such as leadership, work-life balance, and new technology trends.

Texas A&M mascot Reveille greeted attendees as they arrived with photo opportunities. GM and Tom Light Chevrolet provided a Chevy Traverse for arrivals with signage for the conference and a tie-in to the 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 of 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 latticework, 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, she said.

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.”

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

Door prizes were distributed throughout 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 Jewe;ers, $100 gift cards from Textron, Pizza Hut gift cards, CC Creations Aggie basket, Texas A&M 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 Feb. 28, 2020.