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: Director and Senior Legal Counsel
Company: Director at Clendons North Shore Barristers & Solicitors New Zealand and Senior Legal Counsel at Empired Limited Australia
Education: Diploma of Legal Executive Studies, Bachelor of Business major in International Business at AUt University, and Juris Doctor NSW, AU. Studying toward a Diploma of Cyber Security.
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: New Zealand Law Society and NSW Law Society Practicing Certificates
Organizational Affiliations: New Zealand Law Society, Auckland District Law Society, NSW Law Society
Achievements/Awards: Top Graduate at AUT University
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
My first introduction to technology was during my time working for a crown entity subsidiary in the health sector in New Zealand. I was lead counsel of the IT and technology business unit and lead of the records management program and legislative compliance program. I quickly learned the critical role that technology plays in the health sector, such as the use of medical devices leveraging the latest technology to improve the health and well-being of humans. In addition, I leveraged technology in the two programs I was leading to create efficiencies and ease of access to information to allow higher performance of a critical entity in the government sector, particularly the health sector; this naturally contributed to the success of the organization and elevated care to patients.
Now, I am working for a global private sector entity specializing in consulting, digital transformation, technology, and engineering services. I can continue to see how, for example, working with digital workplace solutions, technology can help health care organizations, amongst others, take charge of their workflows and increase communication between team members and stakeholders. The right systems can elevate care to patients in health care organizations, for example, and, incorporate foundational digital solutions by understanding the intense expectations the health industry faces. The same applies to charities, not-for-profits, and other critical infrastructure and service organizations.
In addition, I was working on information security projects and became part of critical privacy and information security internal committees. Again, about people, trust, information, and privacy —cyber security helps and protects people.
I have found my niche! Technology, privacy and cyber security. It is these pivotal moments in my legal and business career that projected me to finding my niche after gaining critical experience in a myriad of different legal areas of practice.
What inspires you to do what you do?
People, information, and trust. If I can make a difference, no matter how tiny, to one person’s life on a daily basis, directly or indirectly in the work I do, I am happy and rewarded.
Life is about human beings and I have always been a believer in treating others the way you wish to be treated.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
It is integral to the success and livelihood of our future generations.
My son (5) and daughter (3) will be directly impacted if the world doesn’t start taking sustainability seriously and making rapid changes. I live sustainability every day, and I am constantly learning from my son and daughter on the true meaning of sustainability and what the world is crying out for.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
Technology touches every person around the world. For many, technology improves their livelihoods. It is the most rewarding career, and I wake up each day excited for the change I can contribute to.
Until you are living and breathing technology, it is difficult to see the daisy-chain effect of a simple technology solution or product. The daisy-chain effect is very real — it could start with a simple concept implemented within an organization that, while profit driven, ultimately produces a solution or product that improves the health and well-being of human beings.
What’s something unique about you personally?
My drive, ambition, and continual thirst for knowledge and growth. Like Marilyn Monroe said, "I don’t stop when I am tired. I stop when I’m done."
What’s something unique about you professionally?
My journey to becoming the professional I am today. My path was never straight, and leaving school at a young age was a great move that made me the person I am today, but there are not many people in the legal profession that have undertaken my vast roles working from the bottom up, learning every facet of the legal process along the way and maintaining the skills of typing 90 words a minute at 95% accuracy!
What’s your most admirable quality?
Humility (which has nothing to do with meekness or weakness).
Aristotle understood humility as a moral virtue, jammed between the vices of arrogance and moral weakness. Like Socrates, he believed that humility must include accurate self-knowledge and a generous acknowledgment of the qualities of others that avoids distortion and extremes.
Recent research established fascinating links between humility and our ability to learn and be effective leaders, and our readiness to engage in prosocial behavior.
As a Juris Doctor graduate from the University of NSW, I studied lawyers, ethics, and justice, so this is a topic close to my heart.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
Those who possess different views, those who choose to be different from how they were born, those who are from fractious backgrounds, and women can succeed in the business world, particularly the technology world, but we hold ourselves back, literally choosing to watch from the sidelines.
It is deep-rooted insecurities, and, despite being high achievers, even experts in the chosen fields, these people and women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are — imposters with limited skills or abilities. That is so far from the truth, and we need this to change, and I see an opportunity to be a catalyst for change with younger generations as well as my generation.
The promise of equality is not the same as true equality, diversity, and inclusion. As so properly stated by Sheryl Sandberg (I couldn’t state it any better), “A truly equal world would be one where [those ‘different people’ and] women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe that this would be a better world. The laws of economics and many studies of diversity tell us that if we tapped the entire pool of human resources and talent, our collective performance would improve. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has stated generously that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was competing with only half of the population. The Warren Buffets of my generation are still largely enjoying this advantage. When more people get in the race, more records will be broken. And the achievements will extend beyond those individuals to benefit us all.”
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 think that cyber security, AI, and data centers could be improved by the inclusion of women. It is still a male-dominant area of the industry. The improvement would be profound in my modest opinion as males and females bring differences to the industry, which is premised on people, information, and trust.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
I dream of the world I want for all children — particularly my own son and daughter, who are tiny. My dream is for them to decide what to do with their lives — to flourish, not suffer the same prejudices, imposter syndrome, and self-esteem issues our generation has. I want them to thrive and be happy in life and respected and supported for their decisions.
I think both sexes contribute but differently and neither is less valuable. I think the sooner equality, diversity, and inclusion can be embraced and embedded within the technology industry, the faster technology can be greater and help the most needy in our world.