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: U.S., Latin America and Canada Technical Manager
Company: CNet Training
Age: Grrrrr (57)
Education: Master's degree in construction management from New York University
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Certified Data Center Audit Professional (CDCAP), Certified Data Center Design Professional (CDCDP), Certified Data Center Energy Professional (CDCEP), Certifies Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP), Certified Data Center Technician Professional (CDCTP), Accredited Tier Specialist (ATS)
Organizational Affiliations: 7x24 Exchange Intl., Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), member of Mission Critical's technical advisory board
Achievements/Awards: Mission Critical's 2021 Top 25 Women in Technology — truly an honor.
How does it feel to be in the Top 25 Women in Technology two years in a row?
I am honored. There are so many brilliant women in our industry that I truly am humbled to be considered in this incredible group of women.
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
It was more of an evolution that a direct goal. As a structured cabling project manager, I was exposed to so many different environments and technologies being required by different industries. All the technology they needed had to be connected, and that is where I came in. I spent most of my time in the “equipment room,” ensuring all connections to the trading floor above were tested and operational for when the market opened.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I am still fascinated by this industry and learn something new each and every day. With each program I teach, I spend a week with other industry professionals, and we all benefit from it. I always emerge a more enriched professional.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
This is now a huge focus on my conversations with our customers. As we discuss in our data center programs, sustainability and efficiencies need to be part of the culture and mindset, as well as the budgetary funding across all disciplines to make it a reality.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
No one knows everything, and there is always something new to learn.
What’s something unique about you personally?
When I was 16, I worked at an album rock radio station and had my Third Class Radio Telephone Operators License. I am a bit of a frustrated disc jockey.
What’s something unique about you professionally?
I was the only women in NYU’s first year of the construction management program. I had to have an in-person interview to be admitted. When I walked into the admission office and sat in the waiting room, I certainly stuck out like a sore thumb. The interview was a bit condescending, but that only strengthened my resolve, and I never looked back. The rest is history.
What’s your most admirable quality?
Hmmm … keeping a positive attitude and perspective.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
This incredible industry needs a team of experts. That team is comprised of individuals as diverse as the flora and fauna of this rock we call Earth. With a diverse team will come diverse voices and perspectives, which can make the difference between doing it as we have always done or trying a new approach.
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 that growth will be seen in all sectors of the data center industry, but my eye is on the building automation and building management systems that will support the engineering teams by giving them the transparency they need for their critical systems, so they can be proactive with respect to maintenance and emergency procedures. The pandemic and skills shortage put a huge focus on having “eyes” on the facility with limited personnel.
The area that needs the most attention is the ability to recruit, train, and retain the qualified individual for the complex environment they are expected to work in. This is a demanding industry. The hours are long — 24/7, 365 days a week, including holidays, the lights must be on. Recruiting and retaining the qualified staff needs to be a priority for data center organizations to ensure they have the coverage for the demands of the facility.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
Great question: What does the future of technology look like? I think it will look different to different consumers of different technologies. Anything from wearable, implant technology that keeps humans and the metaverse connected to a small, remote compute enclosure providing up-to-date autonomous vehicle information on every street corner to 400 kW of compute capacity all in a bath of mineral oil ... the possibilities of what it could look like are endless. So exciting!
Describe your journey in the industry so far and three adjectives that come to mind when you think of your future path.
Not a regret, or glance back, or doubt that I am where I need to be.