Diversity, equality, and inclusion is more than just a goal for the technology world — it’s a necessity. That’s why Mission Critical hosts the annual Women in Technology contest. As the demands for data generation, consumption, sharing, storage, processing, and more continue to grow and cybercriminals become increasingly more threatening, it’s clear that the industry needs more people to collaborative on innovative solutions to consumer needs, sustainable connectivity, and cyber safe infrastructure.
Women from all over the world in a wide range of technology sectors, including data centers, health care, and food processing, were nominated for their admirable contributions to the industry and the people who rely on it.
As Rebecca Ellis, president of Questions & Solutions Engineering Inc. and one of this year’s winners, so matter-of-factly put it, “If technology is to benefit all people, then all people need to be represented in the development and application of that technology.”
And, with that, Mission Critical is excited to introduce you to the 2022 Top 25 Women in Technology.
Title: Chief Information Officer
Education: Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Quantic School of Business & Technology in Washington, D.C.; Master of Computer Information Systems from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan; and Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Graduate certificate in SAP; Earned SAP Terp 10 Certification, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
- ComSpark Women in Technology Conference, Panel Discussion on “COVID-19 Has Accelerated Digital Transformation: How We Are Managing IT”, February 2021
- Data Center Dynamics, “Planning, Communication Key to Navigating Remote Workforce During Pandemic”, August 2020
- Adient, Women’s Resource Network, mentoring professional women
- E&Y, Panel Discussion on Women in Leadership at POWER Up Event, Detroit, Michigan, March 2018
- Infosys, Panel Discussion on Artificial Intelligence at Confluence Conference, May 2017
- CIO Review, “Major Divestiture Amplifies Need for Project Management Governance”, November 2016
- United Way, IT United Panel Discussion on "Internet of Things", Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 2015
- Volunteering, United Way, Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, Adopt-A-Beach
- American Diabetes Association, Michigan board member, April 2017 to present
- Infrastructure Masons, Nov 2020 to present
- T200, Member of organization whose mission is to foster, celebrate and advance women’s leadership in technology, August 2021 to present
- Ohio CIO ORBIE Award, 2022 Finalist for Global CIO of the Year
- Michigan CIO ORBIE Award, 2021 Finalist for Global CIO of the Year
- Women in IT, 2021 Short-listed for CIO of the Year
- Oracle Markie Award, 2020 Thinker Award for Best Innovation in Sales
- Crain’s Detroit Business, 2018 Notable Women of Tech
- CIO, 2018 Digital Edge Award for digitizing layered process audits for plants
- American Business Awards, 2017 Gold Stevie IT Department of the Year Award
- Frost & Sullivan, 2016 Manufacturing Excellence Award for mobile applications
- Computerworld, 2016 Premier 100 Leader
- Information Week, 2016 Elite 100 Award (#29) for returnable packaging project utilizing RFID
- CIO, 2015 CIO 100 Innovation Award for predictive analytics, category management system
- National Association of Professional Women, 2011 Woman of the Year
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
A career in technology wasn’t my original ambition. It wasn’t until I started working that I discovered my love for technology. It began with an early role in engineering running backup tapes on the off shift. It was a very manual (and boring) process. So, I taught myself programming, and started to automate the backups to free up my time to work on more exciting projects. That’s when I decided to go back and earn my master’s degree in information systems.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I love learning! The field of IT is constantly changing and evolving, giving me ample opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge. I also enjoy reading books on business, leadership, and health & fitness. This not only develops me, but also makes me a better leader. By constantly learning and developing myself, I have the knowledge to help others learn and develop.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
In my personal life, I try to practice the philosophy of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” But there is always room for improvement. Regarding my role at Vertiv, I serve on our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) steering committee, where we continue to drive sustainable solutions and operations.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
What I find most fascinating about this industry and IT is the rate of change. The number of new entrants, technology advancements and disruptive business models keeps me on my toes!
What’s something unique about you personally?
In addition to never having enough shoes, I believe you can never have enough garage space! I am an auto racing enthusiast and driver. I have attended dozens of races, from Indy, IMSA and Formula One, to the 24-hour race at the Nuremberg Ring (that was a great weekend!). As owner of the Mello Yello vintage NASCAR, I love participating in car shows and track events. On the weekends, you can find me hanging out at our car condo on the racetrack, speeding around in my Nissan GTR.
What’s something unique about you professionally?
Before pursuing a career in technology, I studied biological anthropology. To learn the ossification and unique characteristics of the human skeleton, I have drawn every bone of the body and multiple views of the skull and teeth. An artist I am not, but with the help of an art-major friend, I was able to make it through that human osteology class. Those drawings are one of the only mementos I kept from my college days.
What’s your most admirable quality?
I asked my husband this one! He said my most admirable quality is my ability to listen. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason, to listen twice as much as we speak. In the wise words of the Dalai Lama, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
Diversity, equality, and inclusion is important to me as it produces better business outcomes, improves financial performance, and accelerates innovation. This is partially driven by diversity of thought and diversity of perspectives. But it’s more than that; it’s about humanity, acceptance and belonging. An organization should always strive to hire the best talent that also represents the greater workforce and their customer base.
What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
I believe we have only scratched the surface with AI and IoT. These technologies continue to grow as the ideas and applications are endless. For most improvement, transportation. Although there have been substantial advances in supply chain tracking, safety and route-planning, the speed of planes, trains and automobiles has remained relatively constant for decades. Glimmers of change are on the horizon, with high-speed rail and the potential of Hyperloop and supersonic air travel.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
I see a world driven by artificial intelligence and internet of things. Cashier-free stores, human-based-sensors and a virtual enabled-world will change life as we know it. Robots, autonomous vehicles, and personalized flying machines will be commonplace. This will all be accomplished with a green environment in mind. And who knows, maybe even space travel!