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: Vice President of Global Sales for the Cloud and Service Provider (C&SP) segment
Company: Schneider Electric
Age: Old enough
Education: Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Caldwell University, Master of Business Adminstration from the University of Phoenix
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, CERT Certification in Cybersecurity Oversight
Organizational Affiliations: Member of the Schneider Electric Foundation, HITEC GLobal and HITEC Foundation, Lifetime Member of Infrastructure Masons, Women in Technology, Sales Advisory Board Kloudspot, and Virtual Power Systems and chair of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV)
- HITEC Hall of Fame
- Infrastructure Masons 100 award 2020
- Silicon Valley Business Journal's Women of Influence 2020
- Global Champion Diversity and Inclusion — Infrastructure Masons
- HITEC 100 Award Recipient 2009-2010, 2014-2019
- CRN Power 100 – 2016 Most Influential Women of the Channel
- Latina Style Magazine's 2015 Top 10 Latina Executives of the Year
- CRN Women of the Channel 2014-2015
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
This is a great question. Early in my life, I realized I thrived on change, problem-solving, and serving the customer. When I moved to Silicon Valley, I fell in love with the speed of change and new technologies. I realized that my curiosity, love of learning, and problem-solving were the secret sauce to success.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Diversity and inclusion work has long been a passion for me. I believe that, in order to drive more diversity in our industry, we need to have representation, mentorship, sponsorship, and programs to educate young adults on the possibilities. There is a great saying, “If I can see it I can be it.” As a member of HITEC and recently appointed chair of the HITEC Foundation, I believe it is my duty to pay it forward. When I joined the HITEC board 15 years ago, the organization had fewer than a dozen members and only two women. But as the hostess of the annual HITEC Summit in 2019, I looked out to an audience of 500 attendees, half of whom were women. That gives me great hope for the future of our industry and community.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
When my family and I bought our home 24 years ago, the well had gone dry, so we needed to drill a new one. For anyone who has gone through this experience, it is a finger-biting, costly exercise. During the weeks we waited to get our well, we purchased water at a cost of $500 per truck load. We had two teens and one preteen, so we implemented a water-rationing program and taught our children about this precious resource. This was the beginning of our personal journey in sustainability and responsible citizenship. Conservation and sustainability begin in the home.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
How the pandemic has driven the acceleration to digital and both the positive and negative impact this has on society.
What’s something unique about you personally?
I was born in Cuba, raised on the East Coast, and spent my summers as a child working in the family business and as a volunteer for non-English speakers who were applying for citizenship. I learned then that “the customer is king.”
What’s something unique about you professionally?
I am passionate about cross-functional collaboration and teamwork. I am passionate about mentorship and education. Whether it is in the workplace or outside of work, I derive a lot of satisfaction from coaching, guiding, and sponsoring the leaders of tomorrow. Soon after joining Schneider Electric, I presented a business case to leadership for the company to become a sponsor of HITEC to encourage Schneider Electric’s Hispanic leaders to also get involved with this organization. I believe that prioritizing my community helps me fulfill my roles and responsibilities at the office.
What’s your most admirable quality?
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
I believe the diversity and inclusion of all people generates greater engagement, performance, and innovation, especially in a dynamic industry, like technology. The technology industry can be daunting for women — and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) — who may struggle to stand out, let alone be heard, in a largely white male-dominated sector. Companies need to create an environment of belonging and development to attract and retain an engaged, productive, and fulfilled staff. Having a team that brings diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences is what drives innovation. For the technology industry — and society — to prosper and grow, we need to not only prioritize diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts but expand and enhance them to encompass the human lifecycle.
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 this question must encompass technology and the human factor. The biggest area for growth in the industry is the acceptance that hybrid or remote is a way of life. Digital technologies give us freedoms that many industries are still trying to embrace.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
When I first started at Schneider Electric, I realized it was bigger than just having a career. As we’ve seen very recently with the pandemic, technology is critical to building resilient communities. I envision the industry shifting the conversation and perception about electricity and energy as a human right. With the use of digital technologies to fuel financial services, education, and other sectors, we will see how technology will not only drive industry innovation but also contribute to the betterment of society and make us better citizens of the world.