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.
Company: Strategitcom LLC
Age: It’s not polite to ask a lady her age ... (ha) 61
Education: Honorary Doctorate Mission Critical Operations
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Over 40 throughout the years —current D.MCO, registered communications distribution deisgner (RCDD/NTS), certified data center professional (CDCP), certified data center specialist (CDCS), certified network infrastructure design professional (CNID), AWS certified cloud practitioner (CCP), CSM, 2nd Degree iMason
Organizational Affiliations: AFCOM, 7x24 Exchange, Infrastructure Masons, BICSI, WIDC, etc.
Achievements/Awards: Top 10 in Tech, JBJ, Comptia 2020 spotlight finalist, Network Computing inspiration award finalist, The 10 Most Influential Women in Technology 2020, The 30 Most Influential Business Leaders in Tech 2021, iMason’s 100, and various others throughout
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
I fell into it completely and haven’t gotten up yet, so to speak. I have done pretty much everything in this industry from cabling to the cloud. I started out learning architecture and then started teaching it in junior college. There was a project to tie a bunch of campuses together when networking was first introduced. They asked if I would take it on, and the rest is history. I literally grew up in the industry with the technology used in the industry. It’s been an amazing journey!
What inspires you to do what you do?
First, I love tech. I love that it changes all the time and continuously reinvents itself. From that love of tech, I really work to champion women, trades, and veterans, as I believe that there is a place for everyone in tech, and these groups are often overlooked as potential talent that we can and should attract to the industry. We are a long way away from gender parity and even more so after the pandemic. We have a long way to go. With the current talent shortages, we really need to up our game when it comes to making the next generation coming realize our career options.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
I am working on several sustainability projects now and have been working in this area for many years actively and passively within the industry and at home. I’m an ocean baby, and taking care of this amazing planet so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren can enjoy it is front of mind in all aspects of my life. I see sustainability as a necessity.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
To me, it really isn’t a most fascinating thing. This industry fascinates me daily. The depth and breadth of talent, wisdom, vision, and people make it a blast!
What’s something unique about you personally?
I am an amateur chef. If I have a great meal, I can’t wait to get home and cook it for my hubs and family. My hubs is the best guinea pig ever!
What’s something unique about you professionally?
I have over 4 million miles doing projects all over the globe. I have extended family all over the world. I wouldn’t trade those amazing people or experiences for anything!
What’s your most admirable quality?
Probably my sense of humor. I don’t take myself too seriously (or others, for that matter). I believe we have to take the time to enjoy and laugh even at horrible things. It alters your perspective in a positive manner. There is something good to be found in everything!
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
I think diversity is very important. Everyone has differing opinions and, without those diverse opinions, you lose perspective. It’s a shame the world seems so hellbent on silencing differing opinions. Free thinking is our most valuable asset and where innovation lives. Inclusion is a part of this equation. I think these terms have very different meanings to people. But in business, people should have equal opportunities to speak and be heard. Including varying opinions, backgrounds, experiences, and insights is critical to any project. Back to that innovation comment ... if you want to build a product for everyone, you must provide equal access and insight. If you are creating something for a small sector, then representatives of all of the people in that sector should have input and opinions, not just from one subset. I think it’s critical to look at biases and, most importantly, to quote the great Terry Bradshaw, “We all need a little mirror economics.” As long as people try to improve, that is what is important. But that doesn’t mean we all have to agree. We can agree to disagree. I think that’s something that gets lost these days.
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?
Growth — I would say sustainability. We can certainly do a better job as an industry. There is room in all facets of our industry to be better environmental stewards.
Improvement — gender parity. We must do a better job of supporting women in tech. There is a lot of lip service in the industry, and a few companies that do it well, but, by and far, we are way behind and falling farther behind. The attrition rate for women in tech is deplorable.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
I think we are about to see a lot more regulation in and attributable to technology. Self-censoring is going to hit a wall. The system is flawed. In some ways, social media is the worst thing that has happened to society. I say this as a technology professional having watched the difference in my life, my kids' lives, and now my grandkids'. Tech for good is my favorite tech. We are getting far away from the good side of technology. The mental impacts are tangible. With the amazing power of technology also comes social responsibility. Those last two words are a clear goal. I think we have just tapped the surface of some great things — 3D printing of houses, limbs, parts, and pretty much whatever your imagination can dream is in its infancy.
We will have chief sustainability officers at larger companies. Offloading power to another provider isn’t going to be the end solution. If a company or person consumes resources, that use should be attributable to the user in some form of assignable value. Green credits will no longer be enough. There will be full accountability of bits and electrons.
I also think there will be a total overhaul of HR. People in HR are simply not technical. Applicant tracking systems are going to be replaced or, at least, the functionality will change significantly. Skills-based hiring will be used to fill a vast number of jobs. Degree requirements will be eliminated from many job descriptions. Internship programs will become a normal function for larger companies. Certification and training will gain momentum as companies cross-train people to fill the massive talent gaps we have currently and are expected.