These 20 women are setting a new bar
Why are there fewer women than men who hold senior leadership roles in IT? Just take a look around the office, in meetings and at industry conferences and events; in some cases, there may only be a handful of women in the room.
We interviewed 20 female senior-level executives in the IT channel and heard their stories and experiences in the workplace. What came out of these interviews, were unique and motivating stories that show that while these executives may be female, they regard themselves as, people who work in the IT field that just so happen to be women.
In part one of our slideshow series, we profile the first 10 women (in alphabetical order), where we discuss their career andexperiences in IT.
By Maxine Cheung and Paolo Del Nibletto of Computer Dealer News
Rona Ambrose, MP, Edmonton Spruce Grove
Ambrose, who has recently been named the Minister of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) for the Government of Canada, will play a huge role in the upcoming IT-related procurement reforms. Among her daily duties, Ambrose is also committed to ensuring that all electronic waste is disposed of in a safe, secure and cost-effective manner.
“The government takes this issue very seriously,” Ambrose said. “A key element of the government’s greening operations agenda is the implementation of a strategy to ensure federal e-waste is being disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.”
Kelly Bizeau, president, MarketWorks Ltd.
Bizeau started her high tech career as a marketing director at several firms in the IT industry, including Nitro Microsystems and Sona/FoxWise Technologies. She eventually started her own business, which is based in Ottawa, called MarketWorks. This IT channel marketing company designs and delivers channel development strategies for distributors, resellers and manufacturers
to help them through the complex maze that is the federal government.
In 2006, Bizeau worked behind the scenes to help stop a restrictive federal government single-sourcing procurement system that included reverse auctions. Called the Way Forward, this could have shut down many resellers in Ottawa.
In 2009, Bizeau hosted several top solution providers at her own Federal IT 911 event to inform them of a new type of IT procurement reform that could again challenge their livelihoods.
Colleen Browne, director of North American sales, ViewSonic
Browne went to school in the Maritimes and was later offered a job with Epson’s marketing and communications department in Ontario. She took this job and after four years, went on to work at Lexmark as part of the senior management team.
Browne eventually landed a career with ViewSonic, where she worked in the company’s marketing department. Not long after, she became the general manager of Canada.
She’s now held her current position of ViewSonic’s director of North American sales on the reseller and enterprise side of the business for 15 months.
“My biggest career accomplishment was when I transitioned from marketing communications manager straight into the general manager role) at ViewSonic, which was within a span of eight months,” she said.
Siobhan Byron, president of Forsythe Technology Canada and vice-president, managed services, Forsythe Technology
In her current role at Forsythe, Byron is responsible for overseeing and leading the company’s corporate strategy in its
security, storage and managed services line of the business across the country.
Byron’s career in the IT industry spans over the course of 18 years, when she first got her start in the Bank of Ireland’s IT
After working at the bank, Byron later worked at Systemhouse, which was eventually acquired by EDS. In addition to this, she’s also held various positions at MTS Allstream, which include serving as the company’s vice-president of professional services and the director of its ERP (enterprise resource planning) practice.
Naomi Ashlee Carmichael, president, OnDeck Systems
Carmichael, who’s now the president of OnDeck Systems in Courtenay, B.C. on Vancouver Island, became well-known in
the IT industry as the first-ever West coast-based president of Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network (VTN) partner community.
When Carmichael first started at VTN, the partner network totaled just under 40 organizations. After serving three years as president, VTN grew to over 70 channel partners, with about 1,700 employees with more
than 2,000 certifications and revenue of more than half a
billion dollars. Carmichael also played a key role in bringing together the larger U.S. version of VTN and the Canadian chapters as well.
“I did grow a lot in those three years,” she said. “The sheer exposure to the caliber of executives from larger VTN members and Ingram Micro was phenomenal. And you quickly acquire or brush up
on skills you may not always have used before, like public speaking.”
Carmichael still contributes to VTN and
is a member of VLAN and is also the current president of the Wild West Chapter.
Janice Chaffin, group president, consumer business unit, Symantec
Chaffin, the group president of Symantec’s consumer business unit, is on our list representing the retail channel.
While at Symantec, Chaffin is largely responsible for the success of the Norton brand in Canada and the rest of the world.
Chaffin’s 29-year career in the IT industry, also included a job at HP, where she worked as a programmer and also worked in
the marketing and general management parts of the business.
When she moved to Symantec, Chaffin was hired as the company’s first-ever chief marketing officer (CMO). After four years in this role, she was named the group president of the company’s consumer business unit, where some of her responsibilities include profit and loss, engineering and product development, product management, customer service and support duties, and more.
Jennifer Corriero, co-founder, president and CEO, TakingITGlobal.org
At just 20 years of age, Corriero co-founded a not-for-profit organization to help empower youths through technology.
Today, TakingITGlobal.org has touched more than 300,000 people from 200 countries speaking 12 languages. The organization is run by youths and is built around an interactive Web site that allows youths around the world to collaborate on various online projects that target local, regional and global issues. The organization also has several hundred virtual volunteers helping out.
Corriero has received honours such as being selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and a Global Leader for Tomorrow. She was also named as Wired Women’s Young Woman of the Year. She was also asked by Canada’s Governor General, Michele Jean, to be an official delegate on a state visit
to Brazil. Even Microsoft’s Bill Gates asked her, along with Michael Furdyk, the other co-founder of
TakingITGlobal.org, to lead the software
giant’s youth engagement project.
Donna DeWinter, president, Global Knowledge/Nexient Learning Canada
DeWinter leads the largest corporate IT training provider in Canada. Nexient Learning was acquired late last year by Global Knowledge.
The company provides IT training and certifications and also teaches things like business analysis, project management skills ITIL and business leadership.
DeWinter first started her career in chemical engineering for asphalt. Until she was hired at Nexient, she was the only female executive in each of her career stops.
Now at Nexient/Global Knowledge, DeWinter says she wants a balanced male/female environment.
“I don’t want a room made up of all women,” she said. “I don’t want it prominent to the extreme either way.”
JoeAnne Hardy, president and owner, WBM Office Systems
Hardy first joined Saskatoon, Sask.-based WBM in 1996 on the company’s sales team. Throughout her 14-year-long tenure at the
company, Hardy is now the president and owner. She says over the years, she was fortunate enough to be given more opportunities within the organization that allowed her to take on more responsibility and to learn more about the operations.
In October 2008, Hardy, along with three other business partners, completed a management buyout of WBM. In addition to her role at WBM, Hardy is also the co-president of Ingram Micro’s North American Venture Tech Network (VTN) industry association, which is made up of IT solution providers across the continent.
Hardy also serves as a mentor in the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business Womentorship Program.
“As an industry, we need to make sure we’re training young
professionals into these (IT leadership) roles and make sure they’re accessible to everyone,” she said.
Yasmin Jivraj, president and co-owner, Acrodex
Jivraj and her husband formed Atlas Systems Group in 1984, which later merged with a company called CompCanada in 2000. A
year later, the company became known as Acrodex.
Today, Acrodex employs over 600 individuals across the country.
“As women, we bring a lot of talent, creativity and intuition into the field,” she said. “I haven’t found many barriers in
the field because I’ve found that working hard and being able to understand customers’ business problems and providing
solutions that use technology as a strategic enabler is most important.”
Jivraj is also the co-founder of CIPS (Canadian Information Processing Society) Women in Technology – Leap Towards the Future
program, which is an annual one-day event that helps to motivate grade nine girls and encourages them to pursue a career in
IT. This event is made possible with help from the University of Alberta and through sponsorships with companies such as IBM
Canada Ltd. and Acrodex.