The winners of this year’s AWIT Spotlight Awards include a no-nonsense farm girl turned tech master, an emerging engineer, a specialist in lifting others up and a woman who brings mindfulness to tech with yoga and meditation.
“The AWIT Spotlight Awards honor women who are making big changes in diversity, community and tech innovation,” said CompTIA’s Nancy Hammervik, executive vice president of industry relations. The awards were presented at ChannelCon 2018 this summer.
The AWIT Spotlight Awards are based on the principles of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology Community, which works to empower women with resources and information to positively impact their technology careers, inspire women to choose careers in technology and help technology businesses create cultures that support a diverse workforce.
Industry Leadership Award
Industry Leadership Award winner Roberta J. Fox learned how to be self-sufficient working on her family’s small Canadian farm. She was the first girl to take shop and building construction at Medway High School and later was one of the first women to take electronics engineering at Fanshawe College.
“As women, we do bring a different perspective to the job. If we believe in ourselves, we can do the hardcore engineering just as well as anybody else can,” said Fox, who went on to install telecom equipment in the Arctic and handle the hardware, software and security of ATMs in Saudi Arabia.
She’s played many roles in complex tech projects as chief innovation officer for the Fox Group Technology, and is most proud of this one: As chief technology advisor for the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, Fox orchestrated 11 vendors, coordinating and leading 142 manufacturers, tech and over 750 mental health professionals to design and develop a secure system that offers suicide prevention services through voice, text and chat. The 24/7, free-to-user, confidential suicide prevention support is available to the entire country. The site went live on time and on budget in November 2017.
“The vendors I have worked with sometimes call it the FOF: Fear of Fox factor,” she said with a laugh. “I have no problem getting tough and I’ll hold people accountable to their contracts and what they said their solution is going to do. I also bring my Second City improv training to help us all enjoy working together. Women can bring a multitude of ways to lead technology innovation.”
Mentorship Guide Award
Mentorship Guide Award winner Kathryn Rose is having a busy 2018 – launching the women-focused website wiseHer.com, which provides on-demand career and life advice for women. She’s also a highly sought-after speaker and consultant for profitable partnership specialists Achieve Unite.
“I’ve always been a connector,” said Rose, who is also known for her thoughtfulness and easy familiarity with new people. “And I get back much more than I give. It is rewarding.”
Rose supports IT professionals and women achieving greater success. Part of her drive is how isolated she felt as a woman working in sales, on Wall Street and in the mortgage business.
“More than ever, it’s like ‘Let’s help each other’ and ‘Let’s work together’ and ‘How can I help you?’ ‘How can I push you forward?’” she said. “One of the biggest challenges in tech is soft skills. You can code, but you still have to be able to talk to people. A lot of those characteristics are typically female, which is why it’s so important to promote and really elevate women, especially in the tech community.”
CompTIA/ChannelPro Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award
To raise up the next generation of tech workers, CompTIA and ChannelPro partnered to create the Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award, named for ChannelPro-SMB Executive Editor Cecilia Galvin, a woman who made it her mission to support women in IT. This year, robotics mentor, inventor and engineer Sarah Johnson will receive the $2,500 college scholarship that comes with the award.
“I just don’t want to be a part of the future, I want to invent it,” said Johnson, who has been a volunteer, summer teaching assistant and technical assistant for TechGirlz, an organization that helps middle school girls get interested in tech.
“I find that it is a great way to give back, especially to aspiring girls who also want to be in engineering and related fields,” Johnson said.
She wants to take on the world’s engineering challenges. While NASA designers are developing a conventional drone to work inside a space station, she is invested in using her research on geo-tracking systems to find missing children and helping elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“Being a woman in engineering in today’s society, sometimes I do feel overlooked, and underrepresented. But having friends and colleagues who are also in engineering and related fields really helps,” she said.
Technical Pacesetter Award
In the past 26 years, industry technology consultant and Technical Pacesetter Award winner Sheryne Glicksman has been affected by reduction, been recruited, changed her mindset from analog to digital, mentored and coached others and singlehandedly raised her son. She’s a busy lady who manages to take downtime and focus on her vital needs.
“If you let go of the ego you can really thrive in ways you can never imagined,” she said.
Her career grew as a sales person, leader manager, graphic specialist and into software sales. About seven years ago, she started going on yoga retreats in Mexico, Costa Rica and Italy.
“I started finding some synergy between what makes a good leader and what makes a good yoga student on the mat,” she said. “There’s authenticity, listening and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. These things we use in business are pertinent on the yoga mat.”
She recently accepted a leadership role with a major manufacturer and in her spare time wants to continue to bring yoga to foster homes, rehab and jails through her network, and is collecting ideas for a book on mindfulness in the boardroom.
“As we invest the time to inspire others, we end up inspiring ourselves in ways we never imagined,” she said. “When you do the right thing, the job, the things, the money — they come.”