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: Project Manager | Data Center Services
Company: Miller Electric Co.
Education: Bachelor of Science of Electrical Engineering from the University of North Florida
Organizational Affiliations: 7x24 Exchange Intl., Women in Mission Critical Operations, National Electrical Contractor Association (Future Leaders, Women, Government Affairs), National Association of Women in Construction, ACE Mentoring
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
For me, it was an easy decision to choose technology. I originally set out to do weapons or computer engineering, actually. When I started interning, though, I realized so much about what I did and, more importantly, what I did not want in a career and a workplace. When I spent time working in data centers at Miller Electric, it kind of just fit — the people, the work, all of it. It’s a constantly changing field that never gets boring and always offers a new challenge.
What inspires you to do what you do?
The people. I have had the most amazing mentors over the years. They were never just colleagues, managers, clients, or vendors — they were incredible people who valued me as a partner and a part of one team working toward success, people who taught me that true leaders are stewards and that good managers work for their team, not the other way around.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
Stewardship is the value I hold most dear to my heart, and, as such, I believe it is our duty to be good stewards to the Earth and its people. Sustainability means so much more than “reduce, reuse, recycle” in an age where everything is disposable, and technology dates faster than it can be produced. I have had the joy to be involved with technology recycling and donation programs and advocating for sustainable infrastructure and energy initiatives.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
The most fascinating part of this industry for me is just how many people it takes to power the data center world. Technology literally puts the world at our fingertips, and we often take for granted just how much goes into making that happen.
What’s something unique about you personally?
I am actually about 50% deaf in both ears, so I usually do a lot of lip reading. It has taught me a lot about how to think critically, but it has never slowed me down personally or professionally.
What’s something unique about you professionally?
I was able to spend the first five years of my career assigned to our national accounts, so I had an amazing opportunity to travel all over the U.S. managing and learning in diverse environments on my toes, completing commercial office build-outs and data center maintenance and retrofits on both the electrical and low-voltage sides of the business.
What’s your most admirable quality?
I like to think it’s my compassion. I believe in leading with grace and putting people first — people will always be our most valuable assets. When you have the right people in your life or on your job, everything else kind of falls into place.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
Diversity brings with it an entirely new way of thinking about something, which really makes it the backbone of innovation. I was the only woman on most of my job sites when I started, and it’s been a great joy to watch the workforce demographics on my jobs change over time and to be a part of that change.
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?
The rate in which we are bringing in and mentoring young professionals into the data center industry is lagging heavily behind the need for capacity and construction. Everyone in our industry should be building interest in our younger generations before they enter the workforce and promoting trade schools and technical skills rather than just targeting college audiences.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
I always feel like this is a trick question because technology always advances exponentially faster than our ability to implement it. With the pandemic, we all learned a lot about the limitations that come with supply chain disruptions and had to adapt quickly to changing work environments. Even with so many challenges, though, the data center industry has seen growth unlike anything before, and there is an unlimited amount of potential that comes with edge technologies and the transition to more cloud interfaces.