Global Conference Brings Together 300+ Participants and 40 Speakers

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Milena Buarque

Milena Buarque

Communication & Engagement Lead At Avenue Code

The Extraordinary Women in Tech Global Conference 2022 took place in San Francisco, CA, on October 3-4.

In October, more than 300 executives and technology leaders gathered in San Francisco, California, United States, for a two-day global conference focused exclusively on women. The first edition of Extraordinary Women in Tech (EWiT) was organized and promoted by Avenue Code, a North American software and IT consultancy headquartered in the same city.

Creating a platform for women in the IT sector to network with peers and mentors, the event attracted more than 40 speakers from major companies, including Gretchen O’Hara, VP US AI and sustainability strategy at Microsoft; Petek Utku, VP technical operations Oracle cloud infrastructure at Oracle; Jin Zhang, director of engineering at Meta; and Monica Lenart, senior staff software engineer at Google.

 

Image of women in a meeting on Extraordinary Women In Tech Global Conference.
Panel discussion at EWiT. Image courtesy of Avery Wong/EWiT.

 

Networking activities, experience rooms, and career advancement were some of the special sessions that complemented the three conference tracks: Technology and Innovation, Leadership and Strategy, and Inspire and Be Inspired.

SVP and Chief Information Officer at Teranet Inc., keynote Fariba Rawhani, was one of the highlights of the event, with a speech focused on cooperation and the end of the culture of competition among women. “When I look out at this audience, I see sisters. We may not all have the same role or story, but we have similar experiences, opportunities, and challenges. We are a sisterhood,” she said.

 

Image of a woman presenting the discussion on Extraordinary Women In Tech, Global Conference.
Fariba Rawhani at EWiT. Image courtesy of Avery Wong/EWiT.

 

Tips and tactics on how to manage teams and grow businesses, success stories, and daily habits of inspiring female leaders permeated every conversation.

In addition to representatives of large technology landscape companies, the program also made room for top female entrepreneurial leaders, such as Gail Mercer-MacKay, from Mercer-MacKay Solutions Inc., with a special lecture on the ten steps to start a successful business. “I believe there is no such thing as failure if you’ve learned something. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back. Life is rarely a horizontal line. Your past does not equal your future. When the setback comes, pause and write down what you learned. When you are ready, share it. Your breakthrough will unleash a breakthrough in others,” stated Gail.

In the view of Ulyana Zilbermints, CRO at Avenue Code and creator of the initiative during the Covid-19 pandemic, the mission of EWiT was not only achieved with the event, but surpassed. “We created a unique platform for women to feel safe and empowered, and we shared personal stories about how to support other women, juggle things at home and climb the career ladder, and move forward despite the voices in our heads.”

 

Image of one of main responsible for Extraordinary Women In Tech, Ulyana Zilbermints.
Ulyana Zilbermints at EWiT. Image courtesy of Avery Wong/EWiT.

 

In addition to preparing for a 2023 edition of the conference, organizers also stated that regional events are already planned for 2023, both in locations where Avenue Code is deeply established and also in countries new to the consultancy and its Extraordinary Women in Tech initiative.

For more information on how to participate in ongoing talks and events, visit: extraordinarywomenintech.com.

 

Image of a room with the Attendees of the Extraordinary Women In Tech Global Conference.
Attendees at EWiT. Image courtesy of Avery Wong/EWiT.

Hepsi Premkumar

Vice President of Strategy and Operations
Cisco

Hepsi Premkumar is the Vice President of Strategy and Operations and Chief of Staff to the General Manager of Cisco AppDynamics and Full-Stack Observability. In her role, she is responsible for navigating and driving transformative and business-critical initiatives for the organization. Hepsi manages strategy, technical program management, data insights, business operations, university hiring and talent training, and internal and executive communications teams. Hepsi has been with Cisco for 15 years and was most recently the Senior Director of Cisco Cloud Networking Technical Program Management and Operations. She also serves as the Chair of Howard University’s Computer Science and Engineering Industry Advisory Board, representing Cisco.

Panel # 1

Topic

Breaking Through: The Journey from Within

Description

This panel discussion will offer valuable insights into the personal journeys of successful tech industry leaders, their strategies for self-confidence and resilience, approaches to embracing change, promoting diversity and inclusivity, and balancing innovation with stability in an ever-evolving industry, serving as a timeless source of practical advice for aspiring professionals in the tech sector.

Rama Akkiraju

VP, Enterprise AI & Automation
NVIDIA

Rama Akkiraju has 20+ years of leadership experience at IBM as an IBM Fellow and Master Inventor. Formerly CTO of IBM Watson AI Operations, Rama developed AI services such as Personality Insights, Tone Analyzer, Emotion Analysis, and Sentiment Analysis. She holds a master’s degree in Computer Science and an MBA from New York University.

Rama has co-authored 100+ technical papers, holds 50+ issued patents and 25+ pending, and has received multiple awards, including being named one of Forbes ‘Top 20 Women in AI Research’ in 2017. In 2022, Rama was named ‘USA Industry Innovator of the Year 2022’ by Women in AI and ‘AI Industry Leader of the Year 2022’ by Women Leaders in Data & AI (WLDA).

Panel # 2

Topic

Empowering Journeys: The Path to Tech Executives

Description

The panel discussion is expected to provide a comprehensive view of leadership in the modern corporate landscape, touching upon personal growth, resilience, empowerment, diversity, innovation, and the challenges of digital transformation. The diverse experiences and strategies shared by the panelists will offer valuable insights for both aspiring and current leaders in various industries.

Jessica Wakefield

VP of Engineering and Operations
PlayStation

Jessica Wakefield is the VP of Engineering & Operations at Sony Interactive Entertainment. She leads globally diverse teams who deliver the PlayStation platform facilitating business operations, empowering decision-making, and providing crucial insights for PlayStation products and services. With over 100 million monthly active users, 47 million active subscribers and 15 million daily concurrent users for a $16+ billion-dollar business.

As a site leader and global lead for the Women @ PlayStation eNet/Employee Resource Group (ERG), she is also a notable cultural champion making PlayStation the best place to play and work. Prior to SIE, Jessica was with Intuit where she held key roles in the Consumer Tax Group and TurboTax Online Banking capabilities for Intuit. While at Intuit she went to USC’s Marshall School of Business and obtained her MBA, with an emphasis in Globalization.

In addition, Jessica is an active volunteer at her daughter’s school, Vice President of the San Diego Children’s Museum Board, and CEO of the Loving Amber Foundation, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds and awareness for kids impacted by rare bone marrow and blood disorders.

Panel # 4

Topic

Igniting Passion: Unleashing Your Potential and a New Era in Tech

Description

The panel discussion showcased the pivotal role of passion, purpose, and leadership in the tech industry. The panelists’ insights provided valuable lessons on fostering innovation, empowerment, diversity, and inclusion, adapting to change, overcoming challenges, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, making it an informative and inspiring discussion for both aspiring and seasoned tech leaders.

Stacy Mill

VP of IT and CISO - Run the entire IT Dept and Cybersecurity for Corporate systems
Nashville Electric Service

Stacy Mill is the VP of IT and CISO at Nashville Electric Service, responsible for all IT strategy and execution across corporate systems, including cybersecurity. She has built global teams across several industries and has held leadership roles in the State of Kansas, Spirit AeroSystems, KAR Global, and Yum. Stacy has a background in security and serves on the boards of various organizations. She enjoys spending time with her family and mentoring emerging leaders.

Panel # 4

Topic

Igniting Passion: Unleashing Your Potential and a New Era in Tech

Description

The panel discussion showcased the pivotal role of passion, purpose, and leadership in the tech industry. The panelists’ insights provided valuable lessons on fostering innovation, empowerment, diversity, and inclusion, adapting to change, overcoming challenges, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, making it an informative and inspiring discussion for both aspiring and seasoned tech leaders.

Surbhi Kaul

VP, Global CX
Juniper Networks

With 20 years of experience leading product design, development, and strategy in Fortune 500 companies, Surbhi has built and led product and engineering teams at Google, YouTube, Netflix, and Cisco. She has launched successful products that use AI and machine learning. Currently, Surbhi leads Juniper’s Customer Experience charter, focused on creating omnichannel engagements and ML-based support capabilities. Surbhi has degrees from IIT Kanpur, Texas A&M University, and Harvard Business School. She also leads Global Inclusion & Diversity initiatives at Juniper and supports the IIT community.

Panel # 2

Topic

Empowering Journeys: The Path to Tech Executives

Description

The panel discussion is expected to provide a comprehensive view of leadership in the modern corporate landscape, touching upon personal growth, resilience, empowerment, diversity, innovation, and the challenges of digital transformation. The diverse experiences and strategies shared by the panelists will offer valuable insights for both aspiring and current leaders in various industries.

Christine Sarros

SVP, Product Development
Oracle

Christine has been with Oracle and previously SUN Microsystems for more than 25 years. As Senior Vice President of Oracle’s Enterprise Engineering organization, she is responsible for Oracle’s internal cloud transformation and delivery of multiple cloud services. Her team partners with enterprise and development organizations across the company to evolve on-premises services into native cloud solutions and leads our global migration program. In addition, Christine delivers traditional IT services for our more than 170,000 global employees.

Panel # 3

Topic

Women in Leadership: Career Evolution in the Tech Industry

Description

Diverse companies excel, boasting better performance, a knack for attracting top-notch talent, highly engaged employees, and impressive retention rates. Yet, in the tech realm, women still find themselves in the minority. Change, the driving force behind progress, calls for transformation and innovation, which, in turn, rely heavily on diversity. This dynamic forms a continuous cycle, one that particularly highlights the crucial role of women leaders in tech. Women, with their unique perspectives and experiences, have a distinctive lens through which they view and approach challenges, making them trailblazers and innovators.

Sudha Raghavan

SVP, Developer Platform
Oracle

Sudha is an engineer and product VP in the Oracle Cloud Observability and Developer LifeCycle Services organization. She manages teams that run large scale distributed services used by 1000s of engineers every day. Her inclusive leadership has led to her directs being one of the most diverse teams in Oracle.

She is also a founding committee member of the Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL), Seattle chapter and runs several mentoring rings. She has an Masters in Computer Science and has worked at Microsoft. She is a goal-driven leader hoping to attract more women into leadership positions.