Diva Tech Talk Podcast

Diva Tech Talk Podcast
By Hosted by a Collaboration of Professional Women in Technology
About this podcast
We are on a journey to share insights into leadership, innovation and breaking down the big issues women face in a tech-savvy world. We interview women leaders all around the world from CIOs and Founders, to creators and nonprofit executives, covering generations of innovation. Everyone with whom we've crossed paths has a story of success that we share with our listeners. Don’t get tangled along the way in your journey; listen in and learn from dynamic divas who share everything from balancing life duties, to negotiating, forging their way in their fast-changing industry, to (most of all) finding themselves. Podcast currently hosted by Nicole Johnson Scheffler, Kathleen Norton-Schock, and Amanda Lewan. Follow along with us here at www.divatechtalk.com.
Episodes (Total: 57 / Page: 1)
Oct. 11, 2017 · 00:35:28
Diva Tech Talk interviewed former investment banker and social entrepreneur, Laura Bilazarian, CEO and Founder of Teamable (https://teamable.com), accelerating any company’s ability to hire top talent by “smarter recruiting through social networks.”  A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business (https://www.wharton.upenn.edu/ ), with a degree in economics, Laura wanted to work at Google. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have the guts to go there without affirmation from my classmates.”  Instead, her first job was at Miller Buckfire  (http://www.millerbuckfire.com) an internationally recognized investment bank. “I traveled the world, and ended up doing private equity in Vietnam,” she said. In the early throes of her career, Laura also played professional rugby, on the #1 award-winning national U.S. women’s team, strengthening her ability to work in teams, problem-solve, and stay calm under pressure. She observed that “What stops you from coming in first is your own mental state.”  She quickly moved to the declarative sentence. “Instead of saying we could win a national championship, I started saying we WILL win.” As she got deeper into investment banking, Laura said “at some point, I just felt that the work was meaningless. I read Mother Teresa’s letters to God and I had a period of introspection.  What is another way I can impact the world?”  She traveled to Armenia, and observed that “tech is a place where you can all win together. We could all use data to connect people to the right work.” She conceived the concept, that became Teamable, and launched a Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com ) campaign around it. She continued to pursue investment banking, co-founding a fund devoted to Armenian companies; and Teamable’s development and data science activities also all take place in Armenia. While raising money for her own company, Laura’s investment banking background afforded insight into what investors were looking for. “I think that’s something that every CEO should learn,” she said. “Do something, like financial modeling, to really understand ‘where are the levers’ in your business. Not all levers are created equal.”   Laura’s three co-founders are technical whizzes – Armenian data scientists and crackerjack programmers.  “The hardest math we did on Wall Street, they were doing in 5th grade.” Laura moved operations to San Francisco; met with Silicon Valley denizens including the top analytics team at Google; and continuously began to validate the approach and build the Teamable company and customer base. She pitched her first successful financing round at well-known Greylock Partners (www.greylock.com/), where they found an angel investor willing to take a chance on Teamable. Highly egalitarian, Laura said that it simply became obvious that, when pitching, she should initially take the title of CEO. “I really don’t know when I earned it,” she said. “Maybe it was with the first money raised, or the first customer signed.” (NOTE:  40-person Teamable has raised over $5 million in its A round of investment, and has over 90 customers, to date.  The company has quadrupled in size since February, 2017). Laura stresses that “really being honest” in terms of feedback is crucial in the Teamable culture. “I want it to be radically transparent,” she said. She also prizes a hard work ethic.  “Where you make the margin is work ethic.  It’s discipline. It’s going above and beyond.”  Finally, she is creating an environment focused on hyper-growth. “Never feeling comfortable; continuing to challenge ourselves.”  Laura admits that her past two years were unbalanced and “a little dark.”  But she thinks it is the direct cause of Teamable’s success. “If you maniacally commit to anything, for two years, you will succeed.” Ever an ambitious learner, Laura is spurred by her technology colleagues and her access to Silicon Valley brain trusts. “I took the whole machine-learning course on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) at 2x speed, over a weekend.”  Lean Startup is a book that Laura would recommend any would-be startup founder reading. “I can’t stand anything that seems like a problem,” Laura summed herself up and affirmed that “It’s super-scary to leave what you’ve done. But you can do it!” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Sept. 25, 2017 · 00:39:01
Diva Tech Talk interviewed musician-turned-technologist, Theresa Ancick, Manager, Enterprise Business Intelligence at Beaumont Health Systems (https://www.beaumont.org), the largest health system in Michigan.  Theresa’s predilection for technology is genetic. Her father was a second-level executive at Michigan Bell (later acquired by AT&T;: www.att.com) in the troubleshooting department. After high school, Theresa sang in a band, and traveled around the Midwest. “I had a lot of fun.  But my friends were graduating from colleges and getting married.  I went ‘oh my gosh, I think I might be a loser’ and decided to get off the couch and try and get a life of some sort.”  That new career life began with a brief stint as a waitress, “while I tried to figure things out.”  Then Theresa selected a job “specifically in computers” at Electronic Laser Forms, in Fraser, Michigan, who focused on producing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage forms “because I felt it was going to get me farther in life, ultimately.” Next, Theresa was hired by Gentry Machinery Builders, in Troy, Michigan to automate that small company’s accounting system.   Theresa learned everything she could about Gentry’s accounting system (payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger) as well as how to quickly computerize all the functions and reports. “Tony Robbins (https://www.tonyrobbins.com)  talks about discovering what your passions are; when you get involved with something and lose track of time.  I loved it.  It was like putting puzzles together.” This quickly blossomed into Theresa’s first entrepreneurial venture, when the vendor who sold Gentry their computers (Michigan Computer Solutions: http://michcomp.com/)  recognized her talents; suggested she provide the same services to other companies in the machine industry; and referred her to her first new customer. That customer “was so thankful that he sent me to every one of his friends! Within two weeks, I had to quit my ‘day job.’ “ Naming her consulting company, Accura Business Services Corporation, Theresa did not look back, (“it was a wave that took over me”).  “I was very popular in the tooling industry but I also served landscape companies, libraries, restaurants, over 200 companies, with their CPAs.  It was an education I would not have gotten at Harvard.”  Theresa gave up her company after the birth of her daughter, who suffered from the very rare “Caffey disease:” infantile cortical hyperostosis.   No insurance company would cover her daughter, so to qualify for family health benefits, she took a job at the Help Desk at Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (https://www.morcinc.org). Theresa dove into their billing system, based on her recent experiences and her penchant for “just figuring things out.”  In 9 months, they stabilized the MORC processes; moved from their antiquated tape-to-tape system; and became the one of the first mental health non-profits in Michigan to fully automate their billing system. Theresa worked at MORC for 10 years, eventually becoming the Director, Applications and Data Management. Along the way, she became aware of data warehousing and its intrinsic benefits to any business or non-profit operation.  “It was this intriguing thing on the horizon,” she said. To further explore that technology, Theresa moved to Oakland County Community Mental Health (https://www.occmha.org/ ), where new data warehouse initiatives were starting. She saw this as her “perfect job,” because “we had fun, and worked hard.  There was a lot of respect; we became aware that the more we built each other up, the better we all were.  We were all successful.”  Eventually Theresa led an 11-person team responsible for state-of-the art business intelligence and billing systems for OCCMH.  After her daughter made it to her healthier teenage years, Theresa also went back to school at Baker College for her degree. After OCCMH, she worked for Blue Care Network, an arm of Blue Care/Blue Shield of Michigan (https://www.bcbsm.com/ )  and then for Sun Communities (www.suncommunities.com ) , concentrating on business intelligence projects.  She then migrated to Credit Acceptance Corporation (www.creditacceptance.com) as Manager, Data Warehouse. From Credit Acceptance, she just recently moved to Beaumont Health System: “I feel like I am moving to an opportunity that was meant for me --- the impact for data analytics to have a positive effect on human lives.” Theresa’s entrepreneurial advice to others considering starting businesses is:  learn to delegate, “think bigger,” stay in learning mode, when you need to know something ask for help, and “when you hire somebody to do something, get out of their way.” Along the way, she saw companies falter because “they tended to micro-manage and they couldn’t get into the next thing.”  In addition, for any career, she strongly recommends that everyone get a variety of mentors to assist and guide them; and “learn how to speak with dignity and respect at all times. You can put exactly what you want out in the Universe fearlessly, and the possibilities present themselves.” A consistent giver, Theresa does food drives for the Gleaners Community Food Bank (www.gcfb.org/ ).  As an open mic host, she also organizes two major fundraising events per year for multiple sclerosis.  Additionally, she works with the St. Vincent and Sara Fisher Center (https://www.svsfcenter.org/ ) to provide GED testing for people who cannot afford it (“a cause very dear to my heart”). For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Sept. 18, 2017 · 00:38:10
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Dr. Rita Barrios, Chair for the Department of CyberSecurity and Information Systems, and Associate Professor, at the University of Detroit, Mercy (http://www.udmercy.edu/) graduating approximately 150 trained technology professionals each year. Rita said: “My Dad was always my biggest supporter.” The 7th child of 8 siblings in her “very strict” family, Rita admitted that she was “a little on the geeky side” in her high school years.  She entered the Detroit College of Business, specializing in accounting, but dropped it in favor of a technology major. She got married, and gave birth to a daughter during her senior year of college.   Rita’s several internships during that senior year (when her daughter was 6 months old) were at the Grand Trunk Western Railroad (gtw.railfan.net/), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway (https://www.cn.ca/).  After graduation, she became a full-time employee as a junior programmer.   Grand Trunk’s IT department was eventually bought by Compuware (www.compuware.com).  Rita was promoted from junior programmer to project manager (“a huge leap”).  Her first large challenge was a two-year international EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) project among three cross-border entities, automating the manifest for U.S. Customs to enable trains to cross borders without stopping. She credited her immediate management for empowering this next career phase. “Anything we needed, they made sure we had.”  The secret to the success of that project was digging into the details rather than becoming overwhelmed by the totality of the undertaking. “I took it a bite (byte) at a time!” Rita’s next step was as a Compuware contractor to Ford Credit (https://www.ford.com/finance) to maintain their legacy information systems, going from programmer to senior DBA.  Rita also obtained her Masters of Science in Information Systems, Software Assurance at the University of Detroit, Mercy; then later completed her PhD in information science, with a focus on security assurance and cybersecurity at Nova Southeastern University (http://www.nova.edu/).  “An opportunity came where I could move to academia,” Rita said.  “ That’s how I landed at Detroit, Mercy.” Additionally, she received certifications from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg University, School of Public Health in data specialization, and a certificate in criminal justice and law enforcement from the FBI Detroit Citizens Academy. A single mom for 14 years, Rita is justifiably proud of her two children. “I have a daughter, now working on her PhD in Material Engineering. And I have a son, going into digital media and graphics arts.”   Rita is also excited about her own cybersecurity field. “We teach is how to do investigations, how to do digital forensics/hacking. We partner with the Criminal Justice Program because you cannot have a crime without some digital piece to it, these days, and look at it from the criminal point of view. We also partner with the law school, talking about cyberlaw. “ Rita’s specialty has spun off into a side business. She runs an IT training and education consultancy, RitaBarr LLC (www.ritabarr.com) specializing in corporate IT training, and also partners with Mackinac Investigators on digital forensics investigations.   “At some point, I would like to grow the business.”  Ever-ambitious, Rita is also looking forward to moving to the “business side” of academia, at some point.   Along the way, Rita said that “I have always been the only female in the room.” As an example, “I presented research at the Department of Defense to a bunch of military people, who were all guys. Coming up through IT, I was the only female, but I have never felt like the only female. I was never discriminated against.”  This feeling changed though “when I went to the University.”  There she experienced “over-talking, interruption, all of it. I have been told by my colleagues that I better ‘know my place, young lady, ’ ” she lamented.  Rita recommended her approach to deal with this negative phenomenon. “I am very professional. I go into a very robotic mode, very stoic. I lay out the facts with no emotion. I plan to say.“ Rita’s focused leadership lessons/advice currently include: “Spend time to get to know people. Find out their strengths, and where they belong.” “Bring the best people around you; then get out of their way.” “If you think about it --- that the project’s too big --- you will not achieve what you want to achieve. So, whatever comes, just take it in.” “Stay flexible. There is nothing you can’t overcome; nothing is impossible.” And summing up: “There are no shortcuts.”  For Rita, success is always about hard work. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Sept. 6, 2017 · 00:28:54
Diva Tech Talk hosted creative entrepreneur, Natalia Petraszczuk, founder/CEO of new venture, VizBe (www.vizbe.com).  Natalia calls herself “a product of the Ukrainian community” in metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. Her undergraduate degree, from Michigan State University, was in International Relations.  Along the way, she worked with lobbying groups, on behalf of nonprofit organizations. Then “the political arena shifted a lot for me. I became less and less interested in that line of work,”  Natalia said.  In college, she took some basic computer skills courses, “because I wanted to stay competent” but “in a million years did not foresee myself in technology.”   Natalia fed her own entrepreneurial urge through observation: “As I got older, I began to see more and more examples of people taking the plunge,” she said. “My father always said: ‘When it comes to capitalism, you have to find a need and fill it’.  So, I kept my eyes open for opportunities.”    From her mid-twenties to mid-thirties, Natalia realized that “there was a big gap with technology as it related to self-development.” She learned three progressive lessons: “The answer is always within you.”   “You (your mind) are your biggest obstacle. Create a habit of focusing on the positive.” Then “Take time to truly connect with the best version of yourself.”   Practically, Natalia endorses meditation, envisioning a future ideal, journaling, and creating a vision board, to focus on long-time goals. Taking it further, Natalia founded VizBe, which “has pivoted a few times,” she said, “totally normal in the startup space.”    VizBe’s first product concepts were Web-based and mobile applications for the individual, to facilitate vision board creation and an eCommerce extension “where you could print the vision board to a whole host of products --- like your coffee mug, or your journal cover.” Then she determined her best audience for these products was companies and organizations, who could use VizBe solutions to enhance the lives of their employees. So VizBe launched as a “software and services company that helps engage employees through a goal setting program.”     As the non-technical founder of a technology-centered company, Natalia had some revelations. “All technology’s not the same, all coding and development is not the same” and “the biggest challenge with technology is that it is always changing.” VizBe eventually outsourced development to bigger firms to scale solutions to meet the needs of the B-to-B market and engaged in constant competitive analysis. “We work with employers to have their employees set goals for the next 10 years of their lives --- not just professional goals, but goals for their ‘whole selves’.  The platform helps draw out their answers, and helps create action plans and accountability within the workplace. It creates relationship-building; it creates loyalty to the company, and it results in tremendous loyalty, and retention, as well as higher productivity.”  In summing up VizBe’s value proposition, “ultimately what it comes down to is truly adding value to people’s lives,” she said.  Moving forward, Natalia’s goal is for VizBe to be acquired by a bigger entity, in the future. She commented on being a woman in the startup world. “It’s clear that there’s a ‘gender gap’,” in the entrepreneurial community,” according to Natalia.  “I end up working with mostly men. I try not to take it, personally. I choose to focus on what’s important to me and just persevere”.  To nourish women-led startups, Natalia recommended regional programs for budding women entrepreneurs, including those offered by Inforum (https://inforummichigan.org/), and The Michigan Women’s Foundation (www.miwf.org). Natalia’s advice for other women leaders is “keeping focused and simplifying is a key part of success.”  And remember to persist. “There are days you are not going to want to get out of bed, but there will be other days when it will be the best day of your life.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Aug. 22, 2017 · 00:47:01
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Meredith Harper, Chief Privacy and Security Officer for Henry Ford Health Systems (www.hfhs.org) With strong science and math aptitudes, Meredith began her tech journey in 2nd/3rd grades and then “I ended up being bussed, with kids all over the city of Detroit, to a middle school for gifted children.”  Meredith graduated high school in the top 3% of the Detroit Public School System, and started college at Hampton University, in Virginia. At the end of her freshman year, she lost her father. “So, I moved back home to Michigan,” where she was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Detroit, Mercy (https://www.udmercy.edu/). In junior year, she switched from architecture to a computer science program. Meredith’s first industry job was on the Help Desk for Budco (https://www.dialog-direct.com ) supporting Ford Motor Co. (www.ford.com) dealerships. She then moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan as a data analyst for The Medstat Group (www.medstatonline.com), and “even in the early ‘90’s, we were collecting millions of rolls of data,” Meredith said.  She widely traveled to support and install paid health claims systems at many client sites, nationwide. “That’s when I realized I wasn’t just a technical person. I liked to talk to people; I liked to sell things.” “I knew absolutely nothing about healthcare,” Meredith said. “So, I ended up going back to school, because I wanted to get insight into the industry.” While working full-time, Meredith received a master's’ degree in health care administration at the University of Detroit, Mercy, and credits the person she calls her personal “angel investor,” Sister Mary Kelly there, for pragmatically supporting her early journey. Referring to Sister Mary, Meredith says: “We need to understand, we don’t get where we are, by ourselves.” She moved on as an analysts and junior consultant at Johnson and Johnson (https://www.jnj.com) offering software to support operating room cost-savings. Meredith’s next life-changing milestone was marriage, and relocation to Warner-Robbins, Georgia. With a military spouse, she lived on the Robbins air force base and worked as a project manager/team leader at the Central Georgia Medical System (https://www.navicenthealth.org/).  There, Meredith benefited from being mentored by director of IT, Kyle Johnson, now a CIO. “She taught me a whole lot about leading teams --- how you traverse this environment primarily made up of men.”   As a military family, “every couple of years, we were moving somewhere else,” Meredith said.  She had roles in Biloxi, Mississippi and Langley, Virginia as project manager in the IT departments of the air force bases’ hospitals.  As a project manager at Children’s Medical Center, in Dayton Ohio, (https://www.childrensdayton.org), “we moved to the next regulatory ‘thing’ which was HIPAA (the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act).”  She led the HIPAA gap analysis for all health systems IT and operational areas. “I had to sit down and read the entire 1100-page document to understand exactly what the implications were going to be.” Moving back to Michigan, she joined Health Alliance Plan (www.hap.org) to establish their HIPAA plan.  “From that point forward, 2002, I haven’t been able to get away from HIPAA since,” she laughed. Henry Ford Health Systems, who owns HAP, asked Meredith, in 2003, to become their first Chief Privacy Officer. Originally embedded in the compliance department, separate from IT, “I became the first Privacy and Security Officer because we felt that those two areas needed to be married. We needed to be governed by the same rules. We needed to have the same leader.”  One of the personal benefits to Meredith is that she began to report directly to Henry Ford’s first female CIO: MaryAlice Annecharico (Diva Tech Talk Episode 24).  “We have been able to build a team of 53 amazing people, who are very passionate about the work that we do. Data is king around here.  The more we can control access to data, the more we can control our risk.”  Meredith also acknowledged “I’m having a ball because I am one of the few women in the country who do it, at this level!” Meredith’s personal strengths are math/science aptitude combined with strong communication skills; propensity to take calculated risks; flexibility; intellectual curiosity; emotional intelligence; and coalition-building. Ever the eager student, Meredith is enrolled in a post-university masters in jurisprudence in health care law at Loyola Law School in Chicago, a prerequisite for their J.D. program she plans on entering, next.  This doctoral program offers students the same mass of knowledge as offered to a would-be attorney.  She intends to take her doctorate and teach on the university level. “So, I get that legal spin without having to take the bar exam.”    As an African-American woman, in a male-dominated field, Meredith said “I think it’s more challenging for other folks than it has been for me.  They have to get used to the idea of women being at the table. I have chosen to take those opportunities as learning experiences for the other individual ---- maybe they have just not had an experience with a woman leader, in the way they need to.  And maybe it’s my job to teach them that.” Meredith recommends that women aspiring to achieve tech leadership role “Recognize that you will fail. Spin that failure into a ‘life lesson’ you can use, moving forward. Learn from it; move on to the next thing.”  Above all, she says: “Know that you can do this.” Giving back to her community, Meredith is active in MCWT (www.mcwt.org) and with both her former high school and grade school, working with individual girls to “show them they can begin to be what they want to be.”  In addition to her busy agenda at HFHS, she also chairs the Michigan Healthcare Cybersecurity Council; is active in HIMSS (the Health Information Management & Systems Society); and is a faculty member for the security boot camp fielded all over the country by Clearwater Compliance LLC. She credits her husband and family for helping her achieve balance, and retain energy. “I lean on them a lot.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Aug. 8, 2017 · 00:32:58
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)’s Senior Director, Industry Product Marketing, Cloud & Enterprise, Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe. Passionate about politics, Kirsten graduated from the University of California, Davis in International Relations and Asian History, and then moved to D.C to work for an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) “whose job it was to help build democratic institutions in newly non-communist, countries.”  Kirsten’s watershed moment was in 1997. She was “standing at the rooftop bar of the Hotel Aryaduta in Jakarta, Indonesia while the Suharto government fell.”  She “watched students use technologies to film what was going on in the streets. These students brought down a totalitarian government, using cell phones.”  She said to herself: “Wow, I need to get into technology because if I’m going to truly change the world, it’s going to be through tech, not through politics.”   Kirsten resigned her job; went back to Thunderbird International Business School, obtaining an MBA in business marketing; got a job, at the height of the “dot.com implosion” at a large Massachusetts-based consulting company, SETA; and subsequently joined Computer Associates, now CA Technologies (www.ca.com). Kirsten’s initial role at CA was technology consulting focused on “how do we have the U.S. government invest in technology in developing countries so that we can bridge the gap.”  She recruited “a fantastic team” who took what CA was already selling to the U.S. government and “made it more impactful to their mission.”  In one year, Kirsten is proud that CA “went from not being in the Top 20 vendors in security for the U.S. government to #3, behind Symantec and IBM.” As a leader, Kirsten said “I learn every day.”   At CA, “the first thing I learned was that ‘all boats rise together’. It is about collaboration. I succeed as a leader when my team succeeds.”  In 2009, she moved to Deltek (www.deltek.com).  What attracted her was the newly-minted CEO “recruiting folks from other software companies to make Deltek more of a ‘player’ in ERP.”   But, Kirsten learned what she called “a really good life lesson: don’t jump too quick.”   She said: “I realized, about a year in, that I needed to find a company that I could be happy at.” So, Kirsten moved to Microsoft (www.microsoft.com/dynamics)  and concentrated on business applications.   Her Microsoft team works with engineering to “infuse industry requirements into the Microsoft platform.  I can fundamentally change where we go, as a company.  It’s opened a whole new set of opportunities.   This is the one company that if we can stitch all of our stuff together, we can do fantastic things in society.”   Kirsten’s advice to leaders: “Surround yourself with great people.” “Listen.  Learn from other people.  Acknowledge that you don’t know everything.” “Admit when you are wrong, and that you screwed up.” In her philanthropic life, Kirsten works on children’s issues through Donors Choose (https://www.donorschoose.org/). “It is an online network of educators,” she explained. Through it, “I help fund some innovative education programs in less successful school districts. My son and I just picked one, yesterday.” Speaking of her family, Kirsten acknowledged the difficulty of achieving life balance. “There’s a lot of non-traditional communication,” and use of innovative technology to make it all work.  She also commented, “at the end of the day, you have to be willing to shut off the laptop, and go for a bike ride!” She is “learning to walk away. I think gender roles, over the last 20 years, is allowing us to put the laptop down, and do things with your family.”  Kirsten strong parting words of inspiration are: “Keep the faith, keep driving. There has never been a better time to be a woman in tech.  We can actually, fundamentally change all of it.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
July 25, 2017 · 00:29:25
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Linda Daichendt, CEO and Founder of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) (http://gomobilemichigan.org ), CEO of Strategic Growth Concepts Inc., executive producer for  Michigan  Mobile Musings audio cast, and Board Member for the Michigan STEM Partnership.  Linda was not an early technologist.   “I loved technology as a child but I was discouraged from going into it.” She started out as a marketing leader in the retail industry.  “I ran marketing departments for shopping malls and retail corporations for the most part” in her early career. In 2002, she became CEO of Strategic Growth Concepts Inc.  (http://strategicgrowthconcepts.com), a Marketing and Operations consulting firm providing services such as: marketing and business plan development, and implementation as well as employee recruitment to a variety of clients.  Along the way, Linda found herself falling in love with mobile technology, which was dramatically changing the face of the U.S. economy in the early part of this century.   In 2006, she became the national director of marketing for a country-wide chain of wireless retailers (Wireless Toyz).  “I became fully entrenched and learned everything I could about what was going on in the industry.”   After Wireless Toyz was acquired, Linda focused solely on Strategic Growth Concepts Inc., and added her expertise in connected tech to her consulting practice. Finding no connected tech networking groups nor associations in the state to fill the mobility technology gap, Linda decided to start one! To date, MTAM is unique:  it is the only statewide trade association, dedicated to ‘connected technologies.’ It started by gaining the Michigan rights to an international program called MOBILE MONDAYS, meetups for those interested in mobility and connected technologies.  Since “there was need for referrals, access to training, and all these other things,” the non-profit statewide trade association was then born. Moving beyond the cell phone, MTAM is “about everything that ‘connected technology’ means --- from IoT (Internet of Things) to autonomous vehicles to augmented (virtual) reality.”   Linda is passionate about connected technologies because “I think it can change people’s lives. I think it can change our economy, make it much more diversified. I think it can help Michigan attain a leadership role, nationally and internationally.” Linda’s personal leadership traits include tenacity, dedication and focus. She stays current in her field of expertise by “constantly reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, attending Webinars and attending events.”   She recommends both THE MOBILE MARKETING HANDBOOK, by Kim Dushinski, and MOBILE MARKETING FOR DUMMIES by John Arnold & Michael Becker, for anyone who would like to begin their immersion in connected tech by starting with Mobile Marketing. She has frequently been asked “You’re a woman.  How did you get involved in leading this organization?” The good news to Linda is that “Today there’s a lot more attention to the fact that there needs to be more women and more minorities brought into technology.”  To help further the cause of diversity, Linda observed “We need to focus on bringing people along with us.”  She spreads the message to parents and educators to “encourage young women to pursue technology in their education and their careers.”   She is thrilled that she is in a technology-driven role now.  “Somedays it drives me crazy. But I have said to many people, this is what I was meant to be doing. I think girls, if they see the power of what technology can do, can become someone who can change the world.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
July 13, 2017 · 00:34:39
Diva Tech Talk interviewed start-up founder Nicol Pasuit, CEO of TechStak (www.techstak.com), a company bringing needed technology assistance to small and medium-sized U.S. businesses.   The only girl in a family of 8 children raised on a farm, Nicol embraced a strong work ethic early in life.   She graduated from Michigan State University, in audiology and speech sciences, and took an entry-level position working in “outcomes assurance” and referral management at Concentra Medical Centers (https://www.concentra.com/) while simultaneously pursuing her MPA (Masters in Public Administration) at Oakland University. Promoted in 4 months, Nicol managed a 24 x 7 Concentra healthcare clinic. Then Concentra offered her an expanded challenge, managing the company’s specialist services program throughout the Midwest, and eventually nationwide. Nicol grew as a strong leader, “building a high functioning, productive team” --- a majority of whom were women.  She also led the buildout, development and project management of many operational tools and software. Nicol left Concentra in 2015, as it was acquired by Select Medical, founded and “self-funded” TechStak.  “It’s one of those things where you look at the moment in time, and you have to be able to take a risk --- living in uncertainty.”    Why TechStak?  “There are so many small businesses (28 million in the U.S.)  that need technology.”   Nicol’s initial target market is 5.9 million small U.S. businesses with 10-499 employees.  “They don’t know where to start.   They don’t know what questions to ask.   They need a way to connect to the right technology provider.  One size doesn’t fit all.”  Nicole made it her mission to ensure that “those technology services that were only affordable for large companies” can found and used by small businesses.  “There’s no Angie’s List for technology,” she exclaimed. “But TechStak can connect these businesses to the right tech providers.”  TechStak relies on internally-created proprietary “matchmaking” technology, which Nicol continues to iterate to “change it up, using machine learning techniques” as the company grows.  Nicol’s initial key hires were in marketing, business development process-mapping, and database administration, supplemented by technology services firms, working under contract, to build out TechStak’s solutions. From HR to business development to service and product development, Nicol manages it all.   Nicol characterizes herself as “a control freak.”  She credits her propensity for “being scheduled, and planning things out” as contributing to high productivity. Being a woman never slowed Nicol down as she has pursued her career to date. “I have never been told ‘you cannot do something.’ If I want something, I am going to go after it.”  Her lessons/advice to other startup founders include: ask questions; be a great listener; watch others and emulate them; connect with people who can help you; obtain a mentor; surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and bring different talents to the table; and step outside of your comfort zone. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
June 28, 2017 · 00:40:26
Diva Tech Talk was inspired by Dusty Welsh, co-founder of Cause Activators (http://causeactivators.com), a Web-based company that connects corporations/businesses with nonprofit opportunities, making it easier for those organizations to support their local communities, and empower their team members to do good. As a girl, Dusty followed the example of her grandparents, active in nonprofits like Meals on Wheels (https://seniormealsonwheels.com). Later she worked with large nonprofits like Leader Dogs for the Blind (http://www.leaderdog.org), and found her passion in life.  She moved to Colorado, for 8 years, where she worked for a nationwide wildlife center and sat on its Board of Directors. After moving back to Michigan, Dusty co-founded Cause Activators with her stepmother, human resources expert Dr. Mary Welsh.  Dusty never intended to be a technology leader, but “I realized that nonprofit organizations and business donors were coming together in a very antiquated way. Technology could bridge the gap and bring this process into the 21st century. Similar to what Amazon has done for shopping, Cause Activators has brought nonprofits and businesses, together.” Launched in October 2016, the Cause Activator platform is based on “the same algorithms as a dating website.  We ensure that recipients and donors are matched on over 25 points of interest, hitting the goals of both recipients and donors.”  Dusty manages the front-end user interface; supervises the back-end development team for the platform; and is the company’s community engagement manager. Her personal strengths include “a gift of gab;” having the ability to “motivate people;” and skill in “connecting and uniting people around a common goal.” Dusty said that the #1 challenge she faced is funding. The company is less attractive to most traditional funders like venture capitalists, bankers or many “angels,” so she looked for non-traditional funding sources.   Cause Activators won a Michigan Woman’s Foundation Entrepreneur New Business Plan and Pitch competition in 2015, receiving a technology grant.  The company has also gotten over $100,000 in pro bono tech support from various companies, and a $150,000 technology subsidy through the Microsoft BizSpark program.  One key lesson that Dusty has learned along the way is “I always ask anyone and everyone for help.”  Additionally, her major leadership tips include: maximize your strengths; complement your team with strengths you don’t have; “learn to become a better listener;” always “be positive and encouraging;” and don’t be afraid of failing. For tech entrepreneurs, Dusty’s strongest piece of advice is “I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the research to make sure you are developing something that the marketplace will want to buy.” With plans to go nationwide, soon, Cause Activators offers internships for university/college students. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
June 13, 2017 · 00:30:58
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Jenny Coupe, Senior Director, Americas Marketing at Akamai Technologies (www.akamai.com).  Jenny began life as an “Army brat,” and moved 22 times in 18 years, forcing quick adaptation to new people, circumstances and venues. Jenny’s father, an Army judge, encouraged her to “be who I wanted to be, irrespective of gender.” Jenny moved to Silicon Valley and graduated from The University of the Pacific, then began an entry-level position at Silicon Graphics Inc. (www.silicongraphics.com) in a “gender-blind culture.”  She credits her “fantastic boss” during her first 6 years for her swift career development. At SGI, she moved into marketing, followed her boss to WebMD (www.webmd.com) as employee #10 and became Director, Worldwide Corporate Marketing --- on the team that took WebMD to IPO status.  After WebMD, Jenny had eight different senior level marketing executive roles with companies ranging from giants like IBM to startups like Tegile.  Eventually, she migrated to Vice President of Customer Acquisition at Soasta, Inc. now acquired by Akamai. Along the way, Jenny received many marketing awards including the distinction of being named to the list of the TOP 50 women in revenue you should know. “The number one value I bring to the table is hustle,” she said. “I hustle 24 x 7. I think because I’ve done so many different types of roles, I can come in, assimilate quickly, assess the situation, figure out what to do and what not to do. “ To Jenny, tech marketing has “certainly changed a lot” from the beginning of her career to now.  She sees it as evolved from “soft skill” (“providing air cover, brand marketing” but nothing measurable) to one that involves having a “science behind everything that you are doing.”   A big believer in diverse teams, Jenny “encourage folks to build teams that are different ages, different genders, different cultures.” One of Jenny’s favorite quotes comes from Silicon Valley veteran, Jim Clark: “Religion is death in a startup.”  In other words, “if you are wedded to one idea, and one way of doing things, you are not going to grow ---- as a business, or as an individual. Everyone is learning lessons, regardless of who they are, what they are, and what they are doing.”    Jenny’s other great lesson is “Don’t forget to have fun.   Don’t be afraid to try it.  Try to minimize your regrets!” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
May 30, 2017 · 00:31:10
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Rebecca Bray, Chief Sales Officer for recruiting/staffing company: Epitec (www.epitec.com). Rebecca did not start out intending to pursue a tech mission. “I just fell into it,” she said. She graduated Central Michigan University with a marketing degree, but it was a college internship at Epitec that inspired her 19-year current career. After graduation, “I figured it would be a good way to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said.  She has remained with the company because “I love what I do. The opportunities have always kept me engaged, challenged and learning every day.”  In her current role, with responsibility for a team of 50, Rebecca is thrilled to concentrate on challenging, inspiring and “growing our team.”   Focused on daily staff enrichment, Epitec celebrates each staff member’s personal, as well as career, accomplishments every year.  “Training and developing people takes a lot of understanding,” Rebecca said. Giving people the leeway to fail, she believes, is “very important to let people develop and grow. We call it ‘recovery-oriented’. “ Key personal characteristics that have contributed to Rebecca’s success include patience and tenacity. “When I started, I looked very young.  Having credibility was a problem for me.”  To overcome this, Rebecca stressed that learning “who my audience was, and what their needs were,” was essential. Among the teams reporting to her is Epitec’s training and development group, which has created and manages a three-week onboarding and training program for Epitec staff.  She constantly ponders “what’s going to motivate our staff, typically not the generation I come from or with whom I have worked.  It’s a new generation. So, overcoming challenges around different work expectations, different types of goal-setting, different types of reward and recognition programs,” are issues for her. Rebecca is also concerned with the looming large potential gap between the growing number of technology jobs, and skilled candidates to fill them.  To address it, she said “We are partnering with organizations like the Michigan Council of Women in Technology to drive more exposure to young girls and people about technology. We are also working with colleges around some internship programs, and have a robust internal Epitec internship program.”  Rebecca shared some very pragmatic tips for other budding leaders: “Write down your goals. And put a plan, together, on how you are going to achieve them.” “Be ‘recovery-oriented’ and move forward.” “Invest in yourself. If you want to develop a solid career, it’s really up to you.” Realistically, to achieve balance, Rebecca noted that “being in the present” is important. “When I am with my family, then I’m engaged with my family.” Conversely, “when I am at work --- I’m focused at work,” she said.  In her philanthropic life, Rebecca is very involved in a volunteer role with Vista Maria (www.vistamaria.org), a Michigan-based nonprofit which offers community-based programs including education, general and treatment foster care, youth assistance programs, independent living, transition services and after school programs for “at risk” girls.  For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
May 16, 2017 · 00:36:41
Diva Tech Talk interviewed the mother/daughter data-driven duo of Amy O’Connor, Big Data Evangelist at Cloudera (www.cloudera.com), and Danielle Dean, Data Scientist Lead at Microsoft (www.microsoft.com.) Amy hails from the era where punch cards reigned supreme. Danielle experienced the dichotomy of more complex and paradoxically easier data. Both share a common fascination with how data helps humans make better decisions, in business and beyond “When I first entered technology, I was much more focused on writing software that was used to run mainframe computers,” Amy explained. When she started, it was well before computers became ubiquitous. She obtained dual undergraduate degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, and then her MBA, “so that I could really figure out how to apply technology to business opportunities.” Amy migrated from software development to IT program management to engineering leadership to business strategy roles and marketing, and finally “landed” in the field of big data. At Cloudera, she works with worldwide customers in diverse industries, advising them on big data strategies to achieve successful goals. While inspired by her mother, as she warmly notes later in this podcast, Danielle did not initially envision emulating Amy, at all. “I didn’t purposely follow in my mother’s footsteps,” she said. “I was interested in psychology and human behavior: how people think and learn. And I really loved math, and statistics.” That drew Danielle to data science, “the next big thing as I was finishing my undergraduate career.” She created her own major field of study, while getting her degree at the University of Massachusetts, then pursued a PhD at the University of North Carolina in quantitative psychology, “where I really learned how to apply data models; how to use survival analyses to understand how social event processes unfold; looking at social networks to determine how people forge relationships.  I looked at how all these things can be combined.”   Danielle began with an internship at Nokia (www.nokia.com) where Amy was also working, then moved to Microsoft “where I am now looking at different industries and applying data science in lots of different ways. I work with Microsoft customers using analytics products, building real things to solve real problems.” Danielle and her team operate directly inside Microsoft’s product development teams to provide customer feedback, and improve the company’s offerings. Both women, in their respective companies, work on projects that predict best processes in the future for everything from diagnosing the maintenance cycle of automobiles to better navigating maps to assisting financiers to better predict lucrative investments to helping physicians more accurately predict the cycle of optimal healthcare. Mother and daughter discussed exciting future tech developments, including the democratization of data. Danielle is particularly mesmerized by developments in “deep learning”, a subcategory machine learning technology, based on algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain, called artificial neural networks. She explained how much easier it is going to be to “get started, and do really cool things with artificial intelligence.”  Amy also highlighted the predilection of “people from all walks of life to create data, capture data, analyze data, and use that data to automate decisions and create better products and services that impact all aspects of our lives.” She pointed out that many more will be able to use data “for much more productive, positive outcomes.” Amy and Danielle have career development/leadership lessons. “Don’t get stagnant or complacent in any role,” Amy advised. She also mentioned that sometimes you must take a risk and move on, when your role or project feels stagnant.  Danielle exhorted professionals to “keep the end goal of the project in mind,” ensuring that the impact of your work meets its objectives, by fully understanding those goals at the onset. Danielle also discussed the importance of technical leaders “being able to simplify very complex topics while really looking at the big picture to make sure you are making transformational progress, rather than really getting stuck on little details.”  Amy is grateful that “leadership, these days, is much less about hierarchy and much more about influence.” Amy noted how important it is to have very good collegial relationships. Both women have learned fundamental lessons from each other.  For Danielle, her mother has taught her the importance of collaborating with “people from different backgrounds, and different roles.”  For Amy, Danielle is her role model for organization, and the resultant calmness and peace that this creates. Some very practical tips Amy and Danielle shared for other women striving in the tech field include: Lean on other people for assistance Simplify your wardrobe Have set routines for the everyday challenges Read all tech information that comes your way For younger women creating newer career paths, Danielle exhorted them to “always continue learning, really broadening yourself, looking across disciplines,” and “take opportunities that will purposely force you to grow”, potentially those that seem “just out of reach.”  Both agree that taking risks and “keeping your eyes open” for other opportunities, and new approaches are paramount to success.  In community life, Amy builds strong networks and Danielle mentors girls through the nationwide Girls Who Code organization. “I am always amazed by what these students are doing.  They are really an inspiration.”  They also recommend several external resources and two books: www.deeplearning.com The Economist (www.economist.com) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg Amy has truly inspired Danielle to achieve, and Amy said that “I am lucky to have Danielle in my life, every day.”  Please feel free to connect with either at their respective Twitter handles: @ImAmyO, and @danielleodean. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
May 9, 2017 · 00:38:51
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Susan Emerick, Global Marketing Executive at IBM (www.ibm.com), educator and author.  Susan’s expertise highlights how far the technology industry has come in empowering clients to transform their businesses and develop competitive advantage using advanced analytics and cognitive computing.  Her book:  THE MOST POWERFUL BRAND ON EARTH guides marketing professionals, navigating digital and social media.   Susan credits her bucolic Midwestern upbringing, as one of five children, in a “country” environment for starting her interest in tech. “Science was actually something that inspired me, concepts of nature and patterns and how you apply those patterns to life.” Her first technology immersion was during two Michigan State University internships at General Motors (www.gm.com), in Flint, Michigan.  Then after graduation, with a marketing/advertising degree, she migrated to Syracuse, New York where she worked on large brands including megabrand Snapple (www.snapple.com ).  She then moved back to Campbell-Ewald (www.c-e.com), where she worked on direct response projects, developing customized consumer applications, for Planters Peanuts (www.planters.com ), Johnson and Johnson (www.jnj.com ), and GMAC (now Ally Financial: www.ally.com).  In these experiences, “there was a thread of technology through how you are reaching customers directly, in personalized ways.” Susan then moved to Comerica Bank to work in the direct marketing department, responsible for the merger of the brands of Comerica and Manufacturers Bank. Susan then moved to Gale Research, (www.gale.com ) the largest publisher for school and university libraries when Gale was moving textbooks to CD-ROM.  From there Susan jumped to being the Brand Manager for Thomas, The Tank Engine and Friends (™) for Handleman Company.   Susan was then recruited by IBM (www.ibm.com)  to apply direct response expertise and data management practices to build their integrated marketing communications practice.  At IBM, Susan loved “the ability to always experiment and evolve with emerging technology,” that the company gave her. One of her favorite projects was building IBM’s global Web presence, “and seeing how to take that global Web presence and localize it across the globe, into different languages, to be able to connect with customers and really help them to understand very complex technologies and break it down into meaningful experiences.”   Another key project that Susan worked on was building IBM’s social media listening practice and influencer marketing practice. Throughout her robust career, Susan has relied on many of her personal strengths including curiosity, not being afraid of change, open-mindedness and the ability to collaborate, well, with multi-disciplinary teams. “Women are always in a position of having to prove their strengths, and pushing boundaries. Modeling the way with professionalism, with poise and gratitude, always helps you get that step ahead,” she said. As a self-described technology pioneer, Susan believes in The Rule of The Internet: “One – Nine – Ninety.” The rule states that one percent of people will be true innovative leaders spearheading engagement, nine percent are following those leaders, and 90% are slow adopters and skeptical.   “I will always either be in the 1%, as I experiment, or in the 9%, emulating leaders I respect,” Susan said.  Her top three leadership lessons for women and girls include: No one knows your passion better than you. Lead by example and model the way. Leadership is not a title; it is earned through trust, respect and inspiring a team. Balancing her career, her extended family, and her professional development, Susan feels blessed by her husband, Mark (“a true partner”).  Principles of always aligning her professional passions and her ethics have helped her achieve balance, supplemented by a very strong work ethic. In addition to her IBM career, and her book, Susan is an adjunct professor at West Virginia University for the Reed School of Media, where she developed a graduate course in data-oriented social media optimization and is also a guest lecturer for the Carnegie Mellon University.  She also serves on boards for many professional marketing, social media and marketing measurement associations.  Susan’s core belief, succinctly, is: “Everything you need is inside of you. Find your purpose; find your passion.   Let it lead you.” Contact Susan Emerick at her personal email:  [email protected] or Twitter handle: @sfemerick.  For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
March 2, 2017 · 00:35:35
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Loretta Yakima, currently a senior project manager under contract at ZF TRW (www.zf.com ). Loretta credits her parents for all facets of her success. “They grounded me so much,” she said. Her love for technology dated from her Michigan public high school’s career preparation center where she enrolled in a data processing class. “It was new and exciting.”  She learned how to code in both RPG and Cobol, “two of the toughest languages” to master. With her programming proficiency, Loretta applied advanced credits to her college degree, and was offered a scholarship to a nearby business school.  She matriculated to Oakland University, in Rochester, MI,  with a major in Economics and a minor in Information Systems.  She also worked full time first for a small consulting company, implementing “Y2K” code changes; and then in information technology for Tier One automotive supplier, Lear Corporation (www.lear.com). Later, Loretta would go on to get her MBA from Walsh College in 2009.  After graduating Loretta became a programmer/business analyst at Pulte Corporation (www.pulte.com), a U.S.-based home-building company, where she grew as the company did.  She worked with ERP software, and then developed a wide variety of Web-based applications, supporting every operation inside the company.  Loretta then evolved into a project management role, where “we didn’t just focus on IT, but were engrained in the process side of things.” At Pulte, as the recession hit, she also worked on “how to change our business processes to become more efficient.”   She moved from information technology, a few years later, and “hopped the fence” to Pulte’s finance department where she then managed the national purchasing shared services group, a total of 65 people, who managed the administration for all labor and materials contracts for the company. A key lesson that Loretta learned from her 15 years at Pulte was the importance of strong partnership between the information technology group and the rest of the business. She benefited from strong leadership training, particularly based on Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (http://www.franklincovey.com/leadership/7-habits.php/). When Pulte moved to Atlanta, Georgia, Loretta chose to remain in Michigan. She moved to a part-time role as a solutions architect, building customer applications for Detroit-based Digerati and then moved over to Chrysalis Global Consulting (http://www.chrysalisglobal.com), a company that specializes in change management and project management. Under the Chrysalis aegis, she landed her contract role at ZF TRW, a global automotive supplier. “My role is with the financial systems group.   We are figuring out how to merge all the finance systems between ZF and TRW. It’s huge, and it’s exciting and it’s fun.” Loretta would catalogue her personal strengths as being a good listener/diagnostician, a hard worker, empathetic and a skilled multitasker. (“I love being busy.  I love having a lot of things going on.”) To accomplish everything well in life, Loretta said: “You must stay positive, and learn to smile,” no matter what the situation.  Loretta’s three main leadership lessons for other women and girls are: Don’t be afraid. Try technology out. Know yourself and what is uniquely important to you, personally. Learn how to network. Loretta would like to be involved with a company or an educational institution that “has enough financial backing to get started with students early on. I think back to the high school technology program in which I was involved.  I would love to build more programs like that, because I think it’s so important --- especially for girls.” Loretta said. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Feb. 16, 2017 · 00:31:55
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Kimberly Kaminski, Vice President of Global Marketing for rapidly-growing TMaxSoft, a 20-year old worldwide software innovator focused on infrastructure and data modernization to support digital business.  Kim’s rich technology marketing career spans both Fortune 500 companies and emergent technology innovators. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, TMaxSoft (www.tmaxsoft.com) offers enterprise solutions to empower and modernize IT infrastructures, and dynamically drive competitive advantage.   Kim graduated Northern Illinois University in journalism with an emphasis on advertising. She began her journey, as a writer/producer for a post-operative medical products manufacturer. “The job was perfect for me because it allowed me to pursue my love of science, while also perfecting the craft of writing and learning marketing.” Having “cut her teeth” in marketing, Kim then moved into advertising for several years including a stint in the tech practice for J. Walter Thompson (https://www.jwt.com/). Then she went to Texas Instruments (www.ti.com) as marketing communications manager. “It was at TI where my marketing career took off,” Kim said. She was then recruited for Novadigm (later acquired by Hewlett Packard: www.hp.com ) and “I have been in the software industry ever since!”    From Novadigm, Kim moved to CA Technologies (www.ca.com), the 5th largest enterprise software company in the world. “It was an exciting time to join CA, who was trying to move from being a very technical company to being a customer-facing, market-driven company.”   Kim spent 11 years at CA, evolving into progressively greater leadership roles, and eventually became Vice President of Field Marketing within CA’s Northern Division sales organization.  Then she went to Avocent (acquired by Emerson Electric - http://www.emerson.com/en-us ) in Huntsville, Alabama, as Director of Global Field Marketing.  After that, she became Vice President, Marketing for privately-held Vision Solutions for 2 years (https://www.visionsolutions.com/)  leading their global marketing team. Subsequently, Kim worked for Infogix (http://www.infogix.com/) in global marketing leadership for 2 years, before moving to her current role at TMaxSoft. Kim is having fun in her current job.  “My personal mission is to grow the marketing discipline, grow the team” at TMaxSoft, she said. “We’re working to create, within the company, a culture of customer-focused marketing.” To achieve her success, Kim believes three key personal characteristics are essential: patience, tenacity, and a sense of humor.  She stressed “it takes a lot of patience, diplomacy, tact, and tenacity to go around and through roadblocks that inevitably always pop up in business.   When you’re leading a team, it’s the leader’s responsibility to help the team navigate those roadblocks, to make their jobs fun and easy. “ For Kim, being a woman in tech has affected her “in both positive and not-so-positive ways.”   She shared a story from her early career where a male manager felt that women should be exclusively at home, raising kids. “Instead of reacting negatively, I decided to just do a great job, and prove him wrong.   And I ended up becoming one of his most trusted employees!”  Kim is thrilled she has had the chance to mentor younger women. “This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” she said. To her, “it’s important for every woman not to measure themselves against another woman. You must find what works for you. That can take many different forms throughout your career.” Kim’s three key pieces of advice, especially for tech marketing leaders are: Stay humble and be willing to learn from everyone. Continue to study hard. “Learn how to talk the language of development,” and additionally “speak the language of business.” Remember that “marketing has the responsibility to be the headlights of the business; really going out there, shining the light on the markets and the customers.” One precept Kim tries to live by is “everything in moderation.”  She advises to keep things simple. Along the way, Kim worked with a coach at the Master of Business Leadership Program (http://www.masterofbusinessleadership.com/), which focuses on helping leaders find their unique value and capitalize on that. “That was pivotal for me to realize that no one was standing in my way, except for me.”  One of Kim’s favorite current quotes is “You are a lot more powerful than that which scares you.” Finally, for Kim, “my faith is my anchor in my work, and in my life. We are called to love one another, and this applies to all facets of my life, including working relationships.” To sum it up, Kim says: “I approach everything with a spirit of kindness, loving what I do, and loving the people I am with.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Feb. 2, 2017 · 00:23:45
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Dr. Denise Mahoney, the Pre-Apprentice Liaison for the Kent County Technical Career Center, situated in the Kent County, Mi., Intermediate School District.  Her current work is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant to increase the number of technology-oriented apprentices in West Michigan. Fosters technical opportunities and educational paths for 11th and 12th graders. “Companies should keep their eyes open to the apprenticeship model,” Denise said. “It is just another way to get qualified employees into the workforce.”  For Denise, Fortran and Cobol programming were part of her initial undergraduate curriculum at the University of South Dakota. While she worked for a financial company serving the Kodak Corporation, Denise was quickly drawn into another love: teaching.  At Western Michigan University, she got her teacher’s certificate and then moved over to Michigan State University for her Master’s in Education Leadership. She ultimately obtained her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at New Mexico State University, and Denise’s dissertation concentrated on issues of gender diversity in technology.   She described her personal evolution as “not super-exciting but fairly typical of people who moved into IT from other areas.” Denise’s high school career tech center has served over 2300 students, to date, with 70% placed as apprentices in information technology roles, and 30% situated in manufacturing environments and/or mechatronics.   The benefits for students include the ability to “earn while they learn;” test their fitness for a specific career; test a company’s culture; attain a recognized credential; and gain a career mentor. The companies who participate increase access to a talented, expanded workforce and get the chance to “try before they buy” in terms of potential job candidates. Denise has a lot of advice for students.  “Learn everything you can,” she exclaimed.  “We are training you for jobs that don’t even exist,” today. In getting her doctorate, Denise gathered data about the factors that influence women to choose technology careers. Her findings were broken down into 5 key themes.  These women were:  influenced by others, had a supportive network, mentored others, possessed technological aptitudes, and possessed well-developed communication skills. She sees the female technologist’s success paragon as collaborative and creative.   Many of the employers with whom Denise works tell her that what they need in their employees are not just the technical skills but the “soft skills”:   teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, and the predilection to help and collaborate with others. Denise stressed that “IT is a great career for women.”   It offers flexibility, the ability to be “hands-on”, and strong opportunities for leadership.   “You just have to figure out where your niche is,” Denise said. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Jan. 20, 2017 · 00:45:21
Diva Tech Talk was honored to be onsite at one of the largest Midwestern offices for Logicalis U.S., during its recent GIRLS IN TECHNOLOGY DAY. Logicalis (www.us.logicalis.com) is an international information technology solutions and managed services provider that designs, builds and supports enterprise solutions for customers throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia Pacific.  Logicalis entertained 56 high school and early college girls, offering tailored discussions of practical topics related to succeeding in a technology career. Horizon-broadening sessions covered topics as diverse as: uncovering what you are good at, communicating with confidence, the wide variety of career options in the technology field, how to use social media to build your personal brand, how to ace a job interview, and how to write an excellent resume. Logicalis supports an internal group dedicated to fostering the missions of its own women employees.  Two of the veteran leaders of that group (Logicalis Vice Presidents, Renae Johnson and Julie Spiller) were in the cohort interviewed during this podcast.   Ghazal Asif, Director of Global Channels of Cisco Meraki, was also a key participant in the day. Ghazal was enthusiastic about having the chance to be one of the main keynote speakers since “the idea of women having equal opportunity is very near and dear to my heart.” She spoke eloquently about the need to be fearless in the face of any setback, or any opportunity. “If we look at the data and the stats, it is sad to see that over the last couple of decades, we haven’t made much progress” in diversity building, she said. “Yet, as of today, there’s more awareness, more research on why diversity and inclusion is so good for companies. In every industry, across every function, women are under-represented. More women should step forward so that in 10 or 20 years from now, we can look back and say ‘we made a difference and we changed some of those stats’ for the next generation, and generations to come.” Finally, Vince DeLuca, CEO of Logicalis, took time to present to this audience because “these young ladies are our future.”  DeLuca was encouraged by his interactions with the girls and women.  “Knowing that they have interest in technology is really important,” he said.  “I also think that overall diversity in the field is wildly important to our (Logicalis) success. When we have a male-dominated organization, with just male leaders, we don’t enough of a flow of ideas.”   DeLuca really enjoyed his event participation.  “To see the amount of interest, the general attention of these young ladies is really rewarding.  The benefit that I get out of this would be seeing every one of these folks succeed in their own passion.   I may not get to see that individually, but as a group I think they will do that; and that, to me, is the best reward that I could ever get.” DeLuca waxed philosophical about how the overall education of our youth can be helped by everyone in their environment. “We live in such an interesting world right now.  I think, as a society, we need to do a better job educating everyone about what’s happening out there,” he said. DeLuca sees some key tech trends that can help with this.  “Collaboration has to be near the top,” he said. “There’s so many ways to connect vast amounts of resource groups or information.”   DeLuca is proud that community-building is part of the Logicalis culture. “Giving back to the communities we serve is a core value, across all our offices,” he said. “It’s so important to us, not just to reap the benefit of what we are trying to do with our customers, but making an impact into the community.” Make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com onTwitter @divatechtalks, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechalk.  
Jan. 7, 2017 · 00:38:57
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Janet Tyler, Chief Operating Officer, at Red Level Networks (www.redlevelnetworks.com).  Janet’s early tech interest was enthusiastically fostered by her father. “That carried me in through college” where Janet earned an MBA in Organizational Development at Eastern Michigan University, and her computer interest was a continuous underlying theme. After obtaining her master’s degree, Janet’s first job was at New Horizons (www.newhorizons.com) where she initially trained customers in emergent applications (like Microsoft DOS). She traveled extensively, training end-users on relatively new applications, and then moved into a New Horizons marketing and operations management role. From New Horizons, Janet moved to the Franco Public Relations Group for whom she led a technology practice encompassing customers like Microsoft, Omnicom, T-Mobile, Supply Solutions Inc. and various tech startups. After four years at Franco PR, Janet “hatched an idea” with the its President to “spin off a company that was dedicated solely to the needs of technology companies:” Airfoil Public Relations (www.airfoilgroup.com ). There she was President and Chief Operating Officer. Janet grew as the company did, at one point moving to Silicon Valley. She spent 3-4 years establishing the Airfoil operation in California, before moving back to the Midwest in the middle of the 2009 recession. In 2012, she became co-CEO of the company, and helped build a highly collaborative culture. Among Airfoil accounts were eBay, eBay Motors, Microsoft, LinkedIn, PayPal, and many others including less renowned startups. In the last two years, Janet joined Red Level to help them pursue their “mission to provide IT consulting and services to companies throughout Michigan, predominantly, who are invested in technology and who innovate.” As COO, she oversees all operations and marketing. Her personal strengths include: strong communications capability, process orientation, project management skills, broad future view/vision and a sincere team orientation Being a woman has not negatively affected Janet. “I have rarely looked at myself as a ‘woman’ leader,” she said. “My lens is not geared to that.” One of her personal weaknesses, along the way, has been her occasional “negative self-talk, and self-doubt.” Now, she is achieving a greater level of peaceful, internal balance through mindfulness and meditation. Janet’s top leadership lesson for other women includes realizing when you approach individual burnout. Then train and develop others, build a team and lead it to remain effective in delivering results. “This can be very difficult for people who have a high need for control.” She also recommends that you learn “when to slow down and when to speed up” in getting things done, and making decisions. You can reach Janet Tyler at [email protected], or through Twitter at @janet_tyler. For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Nov. 30, 2016 · 00:31:05
Diva Tech Talk interviewed veteran tech professional, Julie Christ, Founder and CEO of TechSmart Solutions.  Julie graduated from the University of Michigan, with a computer science degree, and a business minor, then a relatively new degree program.  “It was pretty leading edge,” said Julie.  “Throughout my career, I would be only female in a room of 40-50 people.  It was a differentiator for me.  It never inhibited me; it never bothered me. I just knew that I would be remembered.” Julie’s first job was as a business analyst at Compuware (www.compuware.com) where she was working to understand customer needs from a tech perspective. Her first Compuware customer was General Motors (www.gm.com). Julie moved overseas, and lived in London, U.K. for a year working for Little Caesar’s.  When she returned to the U.S., she continued with Little Caesar’s (www.littlecaesars.com) in their corporate headquarters as a technical project manager and assumed complete responsibility for that private company’s gamut of financial systems.     Julie began the consulting segment of her career, working for EDS (www.eds.com), where she underwent rigorous leadership training.  Then she moved, for the next 5 years, to $9 billion automotive supplier, Arvin Meritor, where she is proud to have had a career of “firsts”, and was part of “some amazing projects!”  She moved subsequently, to Volkswagen, under the aegis of Compuware, to launch VW.com (“which was a significant project, re-launched in a very tight timeframe, in multiple time zones and multiple countries, with no issues.”).   Then she migrated to R.L. Polk(www.rlpolk.com), a supplier of market research and data for the automotive industry.     In 2008, Julie founded TechSmart with a fundamental mission of providing overall company solutions (“whether that’s a technical solution, or a business solution”). Her client base includes organizations in hospitality, municipal government area, food services, banking as well as several core automotive customers.   Julie’s leadership lessons for other women/girls in tech include: deploy kindness, recognize and use every person’s gifts, be humane, but DON’T over-apologize, and ensure you have mentors.  “Look for people who have alignments to what you think makes up a good leader.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com, on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.
Nov. 11, 2016 · 00:36:09
Diva Tech Talk interviewed Jennifer Pfaff, Director of Store IT Services for Domino’s (www.dominos.com), a company averaging $2.3 billion in annual revenue, ranking as the 2nd largest franchisor of pizza retail outlets in the world. Jennifer did not originally pursue information technology as a career.  She initially envisioned her future as an electrical engineer designing cochlear implants to improve hearing, since she suffered an auditory loss at a young age. But while at the University of Arizona, she came to the decision that electrical engineering was not her life’s mission and changed her major to Business, with a concentration in MIS and Operations Management. After graduation, she took her first job in Battle Creek, Mi. at the headquarters for Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) in the IT department, subsequently moving into sales there “to learn how we really did our business.” Coming back to Michigan, “I worked for all three of the Big 3 U.S. automotive companies either directly or through consulting,” Jennifer said. “Early on, I discovered that my passion was in the project side of IT.”  One of her favorite early projects, a breakthrough personalized car owner website for Ford, is very characteristic of the rest of her career.  Jennifer and her team began the project with few requirements or resources, but a very aggressive development timeline. The amorphous nature of the project and the quick timeline “drove creativity.” Crediting her “fantastic team,” this shaped a crucial career philosophy for Jennifer: “If you have the opportunity to try something new, out of your comfort zone, with high visibility” do it! Jennifer then went to another Fortune 500 company, Jacobs Engineering (www.jacobs.com), an international technical and engineering professional services firm, with over 80,000 employees, and 127 offices all over the globe, where she led their global technology project office, managing a worldwide team on several continents. From Jacobs, Jennifer migrated to her current role at Domino’s, where her team is working on strengthening and securing the online, ordering and transaction system that allows consumers to place orders.  She has also just joined Domino’s product strategy group, helping to roll out new digital innovations for Domino’s franchisees and consumers. Jennifer’s advice for aspiring women leaders and girls in tech is: “As you are building your brand, focus on what you do best, but make sure that you give some thought to what else it is that you think you want to do, in the future.”  (And try those!) For all students, “take as much math as you possibly can. It teaches you to think.” And “If you think broadly, give things a go and you are willing to try things, good things will happen.  Be ready; be flexible.” For the full blog write up, make sure to check us out on online at www.divatechtalk.com , on Twitter @divatechtalks, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk. Follow our show and tell us what you like with an online review.