Women in the IT Channel Recognition Luncheon returns to an in-person event

Last week’s Women in the IT Channel recognition luncheon at the Art Gallery of Ontario, marked the first in-person event since 2019 celebrating the accomplishments of the women in the channel, and it was a festive one.

“Women in the IT Channel are extremely important to Ingram Micro,” said Jennifer Villers, director of marketing for founding sponsor Ingram Micro and co-host of the event. “We’ve actually made it a pillar within our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. We are dedicated to nurturing our future leaders, providing mentor circles and even providing assistance beyond just Ingram Micro, even to our vendor partners and reseller partners.

“There’s a lot of women who make a difference in this industry, and we need more women.”

Supporting sponsors included the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council (C4), Samsung, Eaton, Veeam, HP, and VMware.

Tara Fine, country channel leader at VMware Canada, and Claude Reeves, vice president and country manager, both presented awards and spoke during the luncheon, discussing equity, diversity and inclusion.

“When I got to the organization in Canada, we had a bad hiring habit. We had 100 CV’s for a job, 95 would be men… What are the odds of you hiring a women when only five per cent of the CV’s are actually women?” Reeves said. “We’ve changed it. Out of the top two or three candidates, at least one of them has to be a women. We’ve improved our numbers in Canada by double digits in one year.”

He went on to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in offices, noting that a work environment is a much more interesting space to be in when it accurately reflects society.

Apart from awards, the event also focused on two speakers.

Keynote speaker

Larissa Jensen

Larissa Jensen, vice president, Industry Advisor at The NPD Group, spoke about Understanding Beauty and its Impact on Businesswomen

In this presentation, Jensen talked about the beauty industry’s unique connection with women, and how the technology industry can benefit from understanding this relationship.

Her talk focused on trends in the beauty industry and how it has evolved during the pandemic. She spoke about how technology is reinventing the way products are sold through livestream shopping, which is fairly new to most markets, with the exception of China.

“Social selling is huge [in China]. These two influencers, as an example, last year sold over $3 billion worth of products in one night,” Jensen said.

Virtual reality shopping experiences and NFTs are also making their way into the beauty industry, she pointed out. Features like virtual try on for makeup products, or apps that help read users’ skin types are just a few examples of technology in the beauty markets.

Wiz Kid Presentation

Shiza Charania

Fifteen-year-old high school student Shiza Charania is working with computer vision and next-generation artificial intelligence to help identify brain tumours before they appear. 

At the Women in IT Channel event, Charania presented the work she has done with the University Health Network (UHN) and Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). 

Charania, a student from Toronto, has spent the summer before she enters grade 11 working internships with UHN and at TMU, where she’s helping build a novel 3D brain tumour segmentation architecture.

“I’m currently working with UHN on a tumour grading project to understand where tumours tend to arise in the brain, and then answer the question of “why?” by correlating the tumour locations with omics,” she said.

Charania is also interested in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and has been exploring different approaches, frameworks, and perspectives to evaluate AI ethics and safety. Additionally, she recently began self-supervised learning for vision tasks.

“I’m excited to learn more about how we can advance this technology to create models that are less biased and evaluate the role of ethics in relation to the advancement of AGI,” she said.

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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