AUSTIN, Texas — SolarWinds announced the winners of its annual IT Pro Day Awards program. Created to honor IT Professionals Day, this year the program was expanded to welcome nominations from the IT community around the world. The awards aim to provide a platform to celebrate all the heroes of IT who rise to the challenge every day to deliver for their businesses and navigate the ever-shifting landscape of digital transformation.

“SolarWinds is committed to celebrating and supporting the global IT community,” said Chrystal Taylor, head geek, SolarWinds. “We established this awards program in 2020 to recognize those individuals who go above and beyond daily as a thank you for the community’s hard work and resiliency, especially in a year that continues to be defined by massive transformation and a global pandemic. Again this year, it’s inspiring to see the nominations submitted by supportive colleagues and peers, highlighting the hurdles overcome by tech pros all over the world. These stories truly reflect the importance of IT in modern business, and we hope these awards reinforce the value and commitment tech pros bring to their organizations 365 days a year.”

The winners were selected by Leon Adato, Liz Beavers, Sascha Giese, Kevin Kline, Thomas LaRock, and Taylor — all head geeks at SolarWinds. As they evaluated entries, they considered the challenges and technology implementation hurdles the nominees overcame and any measurable results, data points, or other qualitative/quantitative context that best demonstrated the values and goals outlined in the respective category.

SolarWinds 2021 IT Pro Day Awards Winners

Rookie of the Year  
Praharshita Gaur (Canada)

After completing a business undergraduate degree in an unrelated field, Gaur realized she had a desire to help others and a technical aptitude that attracted her to working in IT. Starting her full-time career with Great West Media in early 2021, she has utilized her knowledge of workflows from her degree to excel early on. Gaur used these skills to deliver on projects, such as deploying enterprise security management (ESM) solutions to non-IT departments, onboarding/offboarding processes using an IT service management (ITSM) solution, improving IT efficiencies with a new patch management system, and coordinating a security audit.

Rockstar of the Year
Fabrizio Cabianca (U.S.) 

Cabianca is an IT professional with 30 years of industry experience. He covers a variety of areas in the enterprise environment, including security, networking, data center, storage, virtualization, wireless, integration, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), etc. Currently working for the city of West Palm Beach as senior network and systems architect, he’s part of a team of very skilled individuals who provide business continuity for over 1,500 employees and a variety of local government services. The team constantly seeks to make improvements, leveraging the latest technologies available from multiple brands and vendors, while optimizing resources and reducing costs. Counting on a select suite of monitoring tools, Cabianca and his colleagues assure constant visibility, performance, and proactive action over the entire infrastructure. 

IT Mentor of the Year
David M. Williams (Australia)

David is an IT professional and author. He’s worked in a variety of roles from software developer, systems administrator, and business analyst to IT manager and chief information officer for multinational, publicly listed companies. In addition to his day job, Williams strives to give back to the industry — he’s founded user groups, presented at conferences, taught university courses, and written thousands of technical articles. Williams is passionate about the field and helping students and newcomers advance their own careers and knowledge. While IT allows us to do all sorts of wonderful things with technology, at the end of the day, he says it’s all about people.

Trailblazer Award
Diana Awde (U.S.)
Awde is the chief information officer for My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, the second largest community behavioral health center in Texas. She has led transformational change in the organization by implementing solutions to support business continuity and patient access to care during the pandemic. She accomplished her goals by developing a high-performing IT team that values teamwork, excellent service, and collaboration with the business. Notable accomplishments include modernization of infrastructure, high availability of systems and network, moving to a hybrid cloud environment, implementing remote work and telehealth solutions, deploying patient tablets, advancing a cybersecurity program, and progressing access to data and reporting. Awde sees her role as a partner to the business, focusing on technology to enhances staff experience, so they can focus on MHMR’s mission to positively change lives.

In July 2021, SolarWinds administered its IT Pro Day 2021 survey: Bring IT On to 287 members of its THWACK community to understand tech pros’ sentiment towards their careers after nearly two years of unprecedented challenges and change.

“Not only did the survey reveal almost half of tech pro respondents are proud of what they do, 62% of tech pro respondents say they’re motivated to succeed in their roles,” Taylor said. “SolarWinds is committed to nurturing this positive career sentiment by equipping tech pros with the skills and support they need to succeed in a challenging and evolving profession. Our goal for supporting holidays like IT Pro Day — establishing the IT Pro Day Awards program is to make tech pros feel valued, motivated, and excited to grow and advance their careers in the years to come.”