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: Chief Revenue Officer
Company: Netrality Data Centers
Education: Santa Rosa Junior College
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Extended executive education programs, including:
- (CCBS) Wilson Learning
- Kirby Arnold Associates
- Sales Concepts Inc.
- Virtual Power Systems Board of Directors
- Infrastructure Masons Advisory Council; Global Executive Sponsor for IM Women; Diversity and Inclusion Committee
- Women’s Tech Forum (WTF)
Achievements/Awards (list award/achievement, issuing company/organization, and year)
- Mission Critical's 2021 Top 25 Women in Technology
- Infrastructure Masons IM 100 Award Winner 2020 — making meaningful contributions to industry awareness, education, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and technical innovation
- The Modern Sale and Collective's 2020 Top 100 Global Sales Leaders
- Master of Ceremonies of Infrastructure Masons’ Global 2019, 2020, and 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Gala and awards ceremonies in Monaco, London, and California
- Voted BizClick Media’s best October cover for 2021
How does it feel to be in the Top 25 Women in Technology two years in a row?
I am genuinely honored to be recognized. I appreciate the acknowledgment of my hard work, effort, and passion for technology within the data center industry. Being a woman executive in technology can be demanding and sometimes feels like you have to choose between two worlds — family and career. I have been very fortunate to have a strong support system to maintain work-life integration. Managing competing priorities along with stereotypes and preconceived notions of a woman’s role in society can be a challenge. I am optimistic about the strides that have been made to support women in technology and look forward to seeing continued progress in years to come. I believe this change will come with the help of strong women paving the way for all women no matter their culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. My role and the role of women holding executive positions in industries across the board is to lead the way and create more seats at the table for women in technology.
What made you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
I often say the technology industry chose me or, better yet, intrigued me to want to be part of it. I thrive in dynamic environments and feel extremely fortunate to be part of an industry that is the core of innovation — the backbone of society. The data center industry is growing year over year. By 2025, it is forecasted there will be 75 billion IoT devices worldwide. Companies are relying on big data analytics to increase efficiencies and productivity while decreasing operational costs. Cybersecurity, low-latency, cloud, edge computing, connectivity, and interconnection play a major role in the evolution of digital transformation. 5G has fueled the immense need for ultralow latency, network capacity, and a user experience rivaling none before it. This culmination of change leads to infrastructure transformation, beginning with the data center and technology.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Simply stated, my entrepreneurial spirit. I always strive to be better and do better. I want to continue learning and be the best version of myself. My goal each day is to make a positive impact in some way —build something, be part of something that is greater than myself. Leading and transforming a team or individual and creating and executing a go-to-market strategy to increase results is what drives and inspires me.
What role does sustainability play in your life?
Sustainability plays an intrinsic role in my life both at home and at work. My family and I recognize the importance of building a sustainable world. My husband is the global head of marketing at Nikola Motor Co. Nikola’s mission is to transform the transportation industry by decreasing the world’s carbon footprint, developing innovative energy and transportation solutions, including zero-emission vehicles. Sustainability is ingrained in my family’s lifestyle.
At Netrality Data Centers, we are constantly exploring ways to optimize green power, cooling systems, and water consumption. Evolution and sustainability go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.
What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?
Adaptability. I’ve learned you need to be open — change is inevitable. Be willing to constantly evolve, adapt, and expand your vision. Expose yourself to an ecosystem that encourages you to constantly challenge yourself. Be bold to break free from the norms of yesterday to make room for the advancements of the future. It starts with you.
What’s something unique about you personally?
There are a few things that make me unique and different or, so I’ve been told. To start, what I like to call my first love — besides my husband — is my love of music. I come from a talented family of musicians. My dad played in a band, and my daughter plays guitar and loves to showcase her singing talents. My family loves karaoke. We love it so much we actually built a karaoke stage in our home!
One of my unique quirks, especially if you know me well, is mixing up quotes — even the ones I use often.
I believe one of my strongest attributes is my transparency. What you see is what you get. I need to be my authentic self no matter the audience.
Lastly, I don’t take myself too seriously. I try to be the best version of myself, and, sometimes, I find laughing at myself is the best medicine.
What’s something unique about you professionally?
I push boundaries. Some may view fear as the ultimate barrier to success, but fear drives me. We will all fail at some point in our lives. I have learned as much from my failures as from my successes. They both have shaped me into who I am today, and, for that, I am grateful.
The practice of self-awareness allows me to immerse myself in situations and inspire action. I know my strengths and short comings, and I am always willing to learn new things. Most importantly, I am wise enough to surround myself with a talented network of individuals to complement my skills. I approach my team with empathy and recognize each person as an individual. I have found that diversity of thought builds stronger teams and allows everyone to achieve mutual goals for success together.
What is your most admirable quality?
Being transformative in my vision, leading by example, and investing in people. My philosophy is simple. Don’t just tell your team how to do something — do it, and they will follow. To achieve the optimal outcome, every business requires leaders to be proactive, not reactive. Assess and analyze every unique situation to find the best solution. Be strategic, versatile, and on top of best practices and trends to stay ahead of the curve and increase your competitive edge. Remember, if you’re not taking care of your customers or team, your competitors will.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?
Despite the increase of corporate awareness and acceptance around diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives, there is room for improvement. A long, collaborative road lies ahead. I feel it is my duty to advocate for underrepresented groups and fellow future trailblazers.
I am on the advisory council for Infrastructure Masons (iMasons), a global, nonprofit, professional association motivated to make a better-connected world for everyone. iMasons is focused on enhancing educational opportunities, championing diversity and inclusion, promoting innovation and technical excellence, and inspiring sustainability.
My involvement in technology organizations and events is building a strong ecosystem of mentors that elevates women in leadership roles by creating paths for those who will come after us, raising awareness beginning at the recruitment level, and retaining the talent pool of women already in the sector.
In 2021, women held less than one-fifth of board seats globally. The inclusion of women board members is necessary to shift the paradigm. Allyship of men in leadership positions is also critical for driving diversity through all levels of an organization. People from different backgrounds with varying life experiences provide new perspectives that should be applauded and advocated by men across all industries and positions.
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 find the most potential for growth is the unification of the digital world. The boundaries that once separated the physical and virtual worlds will cease to exist. Business leaders have access to new technologies empowering transformation. But access does not put technologies in motion. Joining forces with other companies, creating partnerships, and collaborating allows organizations across the globe to align capabilities and accelerate the delivery of new, innovative products to the market.
The aspect of the industry I see needs the most improvement is the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.
Government and public perceptions of the digital infrastructure industry are becoming increasingly negative due to a range of issues associated with carbon impact, lack of transparency regarding consumption and data center incidents, data privacy, cybercrime, and many more.
A few companies, like Microsoft and Verizon, have taken initiatives to help change these perceptions. Both organizations share their ESG strategies and models, creating road maps for other companies and ensuring a more transparent, sustainable future.
It is our job as leaders of the future to ensure we have a positive effect on society. Innovation is critical to sustainability. Top companies recognize products and solutions need to be cognizant of sustainability challenges and should be framed as such and reinvented as necessary.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
The future of the technology industry is boundless. We live in a digital world that depends on technology to grow and evolve. Technological advancements have made the world smaller, improved communication, enabled real-time collaboration, and connected communities near and far. Data centers are the heart of any organization. They are the essential underlying infrastructure fueling digitization. Data centers are the gateways accelerating new innovations and making it possible to break boundaries and push limits.
The digital world will continue to evolve and has made great strides in augmented reality/virtual reality, gaming and e-sports, education, telemedicine, cryptocurrency, entertainment (streaming services), autonomous vehicles, drones/aerospace, robotics, and biotechnology. 5G has opened a new wave of entrepreneurship with countless enterprises using innovative technologies and business models dependent on ultralow latency data transmission, making the impossible possible.
What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far? What three adjectives come to mind when you think about your future path?
Thus far, my journey has been educational, fast-paced, and exciting. A whirlwind of sorts played out quickly at times with digitalization yet slowly when seeing and experiencing the technological advancements firsthand year after year.
The future looks bright to me. There is so much more I would like to accomplish in the industry and with Netrality Data Centers. In my journey ahead, I’d like to be transformative, altruistic, and compassionate. My purpose is to give back and lead the way for other women in technology to thrive by sharing my road map for success and empowering them to succeed and reach their full potential.