Some of them tinker, some of them invent, some of them engineer, and some of them strategize, but all of them innovate, and all of them lead. The 2017 Women of M2M are a group of IoT (Internet of Things) executives who have built companies from the ground up, led their organizations to bigger and better opportunities by harnessing technology, and/or acted as a guiding light for their teams through times of ambiguity and change. If change is the mantra of the tech world, change agent is perhaps the best compliment a tech executive can hope to receive. Each year, Connected World magazine recognizes 42 change agents who are forging new paths for the IoT, sometimes in the face of adversity and discrimination.
In 2011, the Level Playing Field Institute, www.lpfi.org, released a report entitled “The Tilted Playing Field: Hidden Bias in Information Technology Workplaces.” The report’s findings weren’t pleasant, but they also weren’t too surprising. For instance, the report suggested IT workplace experiences vary significantly according to gender and race, with women and minorities encountering significantly higher rates of negative workplace experiences than their counterparts. These negative experiences often led to an increased turnover rate for underrepresented groups in IT roles.
Deloitte Global, www.deloitte.com, investigated the tech gender gap in 2016 when it estimated that just 25% of IT jobs in developed countries would be held by women by the end of the year. In an attempt to explain why, Deloitte pointed to a lack of gender diversity in the education pipeline, bias during the recruiting and hiring processes, and an inequality in pay and promotions at IT companies. But these hurdles haven’t prevented many women from pursuing fulfilling careers in high tech and earning a spot in the C-suite. Connected World takes pride in annually honoring a handful of these inspiring female executives who take the lead in IoT companies.
Why celebrate them? Because these women set the direction for some of the most powerful technology organizations and some of the most compelling IoT startup companies in the world. In doing so, they have earned the respect of their peers, and they have changed the course of the IoT through their leadership. Many members of the 2017 Women of M2M have also made it a part of their personal and professional missions to address the gender gap that persists in the field they love. Congratulations to this year’s winners.—by Bethanie Hestermann and Peggy Smedley
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Since 2013, Connected World’s Women of M2M have comprised of 75 vice presidents, 63 presidents and CEOs, 25 managers or general managers, 22 founders and cofounders, 19 CTOs, CIOs, CFOs, and COOs, 14 directors, nine professors, eight chief scientists, and seven chairwomen. That’s a whole lot of C-suite talent.
In terms of industries, a majority of our Women of M2M winners work for hardware and services providers in M2M and the IoT—and this is even more true than usual in 2017. In fact, 2017 marks the fifth year in a row that hardware and services providers have taken the lead in Women of M2M industry groupings. One of the most marked trends from 2013-2017 is the drop in the number of winners representing companies that focus primarily on consumer devices and solutions. Perhaps this marks a maturation in the field, as more women find homes in enterprise-focused companies and drive enterprise-focused IoT innovation.
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In building Senseware from the ground up, Serene Almomen found a niche group of building owners, engineers, and energy consultants that were all at a disadvantage by not having wireless, instant access to realtime facility data. As cofounder and CEO of the blossoming technology company, Almomen worked to provide these folks with a modern IoT-enabled technological solution to an age-old issue in an industry that was previously ignored by the IoT sector—the commercial and industrial real estate industry. Today, she continues to monitor the IoT landscape for opportunities and is known for pushing her team to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Enterprise SVP/Chief of Strategy Integration
Nemours Children’s Health System
Described by colleagues as a change agent and a visionary leader, Gina Altieri has jumped at the chance to help Nemours Children’s Health System leverage technology to transform healthcare delivery. Altieri is responsible for strategic planning and corporate services, integrating information technology, health informatics, enterprise intelligence, corporate information security, project management, and marketing and communications. Her latest endeavor is the launch of the Nemours’ Center for Healthcare Delivery and Innovation, a consumer digital health strategy that includes telemedicine, Web-based patient education, and related services that will interact with the IoT to deliver the care families want and need.
VP, Data and Analytics
At GE, Beena Ammanath is responsible for shaping the industrial Internet platform, Predix, into a top-notch IoT data-science platform. She works with leading industrial companies to help them build and execute on strategies that will take their businesses through a digital transformation—for instance, by using advanced data-science techniques to achieve productivity gains and business growth based on insights generated through their own data. Besides being a thought leader in the IoT, AI (artificial intelligence), and the industrial Internet, Ammanath is involved in ChickTech, a nonprofit organization dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of girls pursuing technology-based careers.
In running the end-to-end business of global analytics at SAP, Mala Anand applies her 20+ years of experience leading product development for enterprise-focused software companies to guide SAP in creating innovative software and go-to-market strategies. Her responsibilities include smart services, big data and analytics, application integration, and automation enablement platforms. In a former leadership role at Cisco, Anand helped the Cisco Services Product Group launch more than 15 market-leading offerings. In 2016, Anand was elected to the board of directors at Cotiviti, a payment accuracy provider for the healthcare and retail industries, to provide perspective on product development, technology, and market expansion.
Formerly an executive at Texas Instruments, where her business unit was in charge of the definition, design, development, and sales of ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) solutions for the consumer electronics, medical devices, and smart-grid markets, and Infosys, where she led the engineering services business for the life sciences, healthcare, semiconductor, and railroad industries, Aditi Banerjee is now a top executive at HCL Technologies—a global $6.4 billion technology and IT enterprise. Banerjee heads up global business development in HCL America across the life sciences, healthcare, energy, and utilities industries. A U.S. patent holder and PhD recipient, she is also a member of the advisory board for WITI (Women in Technology Intl.).
While Ayah Bdeir was at the MIT Media Lab earning her degree, she started exploring how she could put the power of engineers into the hands of non-engineers, such as artists, designers, and even kids. With the goal of encouraging a world full of creators, inventors, and contributors, Bdeir came up with littleBits, pre-engineered electronic building blocks that are magnetic, color-coded, and interchangeable in millions of different ways. Aiming to make complex technology simple and fun, Bdeir’s company, littleBits Electronics, offers kits composed of littleBits that empower everyday people to invent pretty much anything they want, replacing programming, wiring, and soldering with simple, intuitive gestures.
VP and GM/Chairman and President
Cisco/IoT Talent Consortium
After building Micronics from a $50 startup to a $300 million business, Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn joined Cisco. Throughout her 20-year career at Cisco, she has led the company’s global channels sales team, launched the strategic alliances program, and established the Internet Business Solutions Group. Currently, Beliveau-Dunn leads technical services strategy and operations, the Office of Innovation, and the Learning@Cisco business unit. Besides working to create digital workforce solutions and innovative services that transform the way people experience information and technology from Cisco, Beliveau-Dunn leads the IoT Talent Consortium, which works to empower a more agile workforce for the digital economy.
Chris Bue serves as the acting CFO at Rocket Wagon, which is developing a free, publicly available LoRaWAN (low power wide area network) in Chicago, Illinois. Bue also serves as an organizer for Makerbiz, a Chicago-based support group for hardware entrepreneurs. Besides leading monthly meetings of 50-150 hardware entrepreneurs for Makerbiz, she is spearheading a hackathon that will showcase LoRaWAN and, ultimately, empower Chicagoans to work hands on with this technology. Bue goes above and beyond to support women in business, mentoring a number of local female-led companies through her work with Makerbiz, mHUB, and Ms.Tech.
Margaret Burgraff is a leader in software and product engineering and is known as a proactive visionary, a consummate team builder, and a sharp troubleshooter. She is passionate about improving processes and leverages her years of experience in software, systems engineering, quality assurance, validation, and developer relations to reach her goal of ensuring optimal customer experiences and repeatable success strategies for her company. At Intel, Burgraff wears many hats, including making sure her team delights developers with the “Intel experience” and enables them with engineering support to work on Intel technologies.
Chief Strategy Officer
Driven to guide the Exadel team in tackling clients’ challenging business goals, Lisa Calkins has spent the last two decades refining company best practices and honing Exadel’s ability to meet the unique demands of its clients. As chief strategy officer, Calkins is actively involved in Exadel clients’ next-gen software development projects that range from beacons to wearables, mobile apps, connected healthcare devices, and beyond. Her passion for innovative technology is contagious, and she has shared her expertise at several conferences focused on digital communication. Calkins is also a dedicated community leader, lending time to several local business organizations and professional women’s groups.
SVP/GM, Computing Systems Product Group
Since joining Cisco in 2000, Liz Centoni has been instrumental in bringing industry-leading products to market and managing global teams. Centoni has a strong track record of setting clear priorities and translating strategy into execution. As senior vice president and general manager of the Computing Systems Product Group, Centoni is responsible for shaping, guiding, and managing Cisco’s engineering strategy and execution across its routing, switching, security, mobility, video, collaboration, data center, and cloud offerings. She launched the Women in Engineering Leadership Forum at Cisco and is a sponsor of the Cisco WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) employee resource program.
Nadine Ciro is an “accidental inventor” who leverages item tracking to foster sustainable behavior and business practices. Her vision is to make item tracking a part of daily life across consumer and commercial sectors. To that end, her innovations deploy smartphones, tablets, and other wireless tools that can be made readily available at affordable prices. As CEO of her company, Tyga-Box Systems, Ciro has taken technology from napkin sketches to prototypes to product launches. Ciro is an active member of SheWorx, a global entrepreneur group for women, as well as 6-Figures, a networking and support group for women in business.
Program Manager Evangelist, IoT
Pamela Cortez is Microsoft’s program manager evangelist for the IoT, which means she focuses on IoT developer and partner global programs for the Microsoft Developer Experience organization. Cortez’s specialties include developer advocacy, electrical engineering, security, programming, and outreach via workshops, hackathons, and the maker community. She says driving open-source contributions and awareness for Microsoft are the best parts of her day. Prior to Microsoft, Cortez was a connected devices developer advocate and “hack ninja” at SparkFun, where she focused on outreach, teaching open-source hardware and software, coding, events, and technical documentation. She serves in multiple capacities for the Boulder/Denver chapter of Women Who Code.
Seasoned engineer and IoT industry veteran Geetha Dabir was appointed chief technology officer of the Weir Group, an engineering business, earlier this year. The Weir Group designs, manufactures, and services innovative solutions that help customers in the minerals, oil and gas, power, and process industries become more efficient. Dabir formerly held leadership roles at Cisco, where she served as vice president and general manager of IoT applications, and Intel, where she led the IoT Application Ready Platform Group. Under her leadership at Cisco, the company’s business intelligence and IoT security business grew to more than $100 million in revenue.
Sam De Brouwer
Sam De Brouwer began her entrepreneurial career back in 1996, when she started the Starlab research lab in Brussels. Her latest venture is doc.ai, a computing linguistic company focused on building medical dialogue systems and intelligent conversational agents for the next generation of personalized healthcare. Prior to doc.ai, De Brouwer cofounded Scanadu, a venture-backed company that’s developing consumer-facing mobile medical devices. As cofounder and chief operating officer for doc.ai, De Brouwer plays a key role in helping AI and natural language processing usher in a new era of connected healthcare. She is an active TED member and organizer of TEDx conferences.
SVP/Chief Strategy Officer
“The machines are coming,” Aicha Evans has said, adding that a new generation of networks is needed in this exciting time. Evans is senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel, responsible for driving the company’s long-term strategy to transform from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company. Since joining Intel in 2006, Evans has worked her way up from a software integration and test manager through various management positions that put her in charge of Intel’s wireless efforts. Evans advises other women in tech to find their passion and stick with it; the opportunity to make an impact is always there.
Lead Engineer, SAM Car
The engineer in the driver’s seat of Arrow Electronics’ SAM (semi-autonomous motorcar) project is Noel Fleet. Fleet and team leveraged off-the-shelf technology to modify a Corvette into the SAM Car, which allows a quadriplegic driver to drive using his breath and head motions. Under Fleet’s leadership, the SAM Car team demonstrated cutting-edge technologies in autonomous engineering and IoT technology. Because their work is open source, Fleet and her team’s engineering feats will enable many more applications of independent living for people with physical disabilities. Fleet is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and participates in the society’s mentorship programs.
Aiming to create an online space for learning electronics and well-designed products for makers of all skill levels, MIT hacker and engineer Limor “Ladyada” Fried founded Adafruit, an open-source hardware company, in 2005. When asked in an interview with Open Electronics whether Adafruit’s core business was hardware or learning, Fried said, “we’re a learning and tutorial company with a gift shop.” The 100%-women-owned company offers tools, equipment, and electronics that Fried personally selects, tests, and approves. In 2011, Fried was named a White House Champion of Change in 2016.
Hitachi Insight Group
Sara Gardner orchestrates global engineering, R&D (research and development), and business development teams across Hitachi’s portfolio of industrial and technology companies. Her goal is to drive IoT and advanced analytics technology strategy and solution development, and she has played a critical role in the development of Hitachi’s global unified IoT business. Gardner cofounded the Hitachi Social Innovation Business Unit, which helps unify IT and OT (operational technology) capabilities across Hitachi’s vast portfolios in support of its corporate vision. Gardner coined the idea of “The Internet of Things that Matter” to help refocus the IoT conversation on areas the technology can impact the most.
Senior Clinical Consultant, Technology Group
Smith Seckman Reid
Bridging the gap between the clinical team, the IT team, and the design team at Smith Seckman Reid is Debbie Gregory’s passion. In her role as senior clinical consultant for the company’s technology group, Gregory helps achieve clinical innovation and transformation by working to align the build environment with the technological needs of clinical staff and workflows. By acting as a liaison, she interprets and enhances the clinical workflow and operations with technology integration and implementation, ultimately helping to improve patient care delivery. Gregory also founded the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design, which advocates for clinical input in the design of healthcare.
SVP, Cloud Operations
Mayumi Hiramatsu is driving digitization through coinnovation with suppliers and partners by providing thought leadership and an architectural approach to the ecosystem. In her previous role at Cisco, she was accountable for the lifecycle management of products and services. Hiramatsu spearheads technical and organizational transformation and builds new operational capabilities to deliver software, cloud, and IoT-enabled products. Leveraging her technical expertise, business acumen, and industry network, Hiramatsu translates vision into technical and organizational strategies that deliver business results. Because she believes diversity leads to innovation, Hiramatsu actively invests in talent development across the industry.
VP, Information Technology
So far in her career, Shanthi Iyer has gained diverse expertise across infrastructure, application development, and solution architecture. She has led multiple transformational initiatives, including large-scale business transformation, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) implementation, and data center migrations, and she has established a global workforce strategy and led her organization through times of ambiguity and change. At Cisco, Iyer’s current role is vice president of information technology, which means she leads Cisco’s Data Management organization, including BI (business intelligence), predictive analytics, data security, and master data management.
Since taking the helm at Speck Design, Elisa Jagerson has been focused on building relationships with clients and team members and facilitating an infrastructure to support them. The company has grown dramatically under Jagerson’s leadership, as has its impact on clients and the innovation community. This is partly because Jagerson continues to push the boundaries of innovation and the ways technology can connect with and impact the quality of human life. Jagerson serves on multiple boards for nonprofits that advance women in technology and business. She speaks out publicly about the need for diversity in the rapidly evolving technology space.
VP, Product Management
During her 10 years at Google, Anjali Joshi has held positions such as product lead overseeing infrastructure, localization, and cloud; product lead overseeing maps; and product and engineering lead overseeing new search products. Today, she is vice president of product management. Joshi’s experience leading product and engineering teams to execute large-scale, complex consumer and business products and services has made her a valuable asset to Google. Prior to Google, Joshi contributed to the growth of Covad Communications as executive vice president of engineering. Before that, she worked in the areas of voice and high-speed data communications at Bell Labs.
Hannah Kain founded ALOM in 1997 to provide global supply chain and logistics management services to Fortune 500 brands in the automotive, technology, medical, pharmaceutical/biomed, energy, and retail industries. Kain made it her business, literally, to understand and embrace technology that would expand the value proposition of a process or product in order to improve performance and provide data-driven opportunities. Among other community roles, Kain is a board member for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and a member of the STEP Ahead industry advisory council, which promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and job training for women and minorities.
Director, IoT Solutions
By leveraging technology, developing strategic plans and products, moving to action for timely implementation, and measuring improvement against a baseline, Scarlett King has produced results in product development, new market entry, the creation of new revenue streams, market expansion, spend reduction, and revenue growth. As director of IoT solutions for Bosch Software Innovations, King heads up new product development leveraging a multitude of IoT and M2M technologies. She also established U.S. market entry for smart communities and cities with the largest contract for Bosch IoT worldwide. Beyond smart communities and cities, King’s market focuses at Bosch include industrial manufacturing, energy management, healthcare, social data, and eMobility.
VP, SW Engineering
At Qualcomm, Vanitha Kumar says she has been part of the eye of the hurricane that has turned the mobile world upside down, opening the door to countless possibilities and allowing the industry to think big. As vice president of software engineering, Kumar is leading the 5G evolution, roadmap, and delivery across Qualcomm modems. Her deep understanding of wireless modem chipset software and commercialization challenges of mobile devices and embedded modules allows her to work with closely with OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers) to launch products. Kumar is part of Qualcomm’s Women’s Leadership Council, focusing on recruiting and retaining women across the organization.
VP/GM, North America Sales
During Juliann Larimer’s tenure leading North America sales for Zebra Technologies, the company has seen record share in its mobile computing and mobile printing portfolios. In her current role, Larimer advocates for Zebra’s customers, in part by participating in customer advisory council meetings, which help the company find new ways to apply emerging IoT technologies to help solve customers’ complex business challenges. Larimer is a mentor within her company and outside of it. She has led and/or sponsored several programs that support women in technology. Larimer also actively participates in the annual Illinois Diversity Council Women’s Conference.
Angie Lienert’s company, IntelliGenesis, provides intelligence analysis, data visualization, data mining, automation software, and analytics development for Big Data, artificial intelligence, offensive and defensive cyber operations, software lifecycle support, and research and development services. Lienert’s mission via IntelliGenesis is to enrich customers’ missions by applying technical expertise from her and her team, which includes multi-disciplined analysts, mission-focused software developers, and machine learning data scientists, while helping to solve their most difficult challenges. She takes pride in seeing the impact her team’s technology has on saving lives by improving the protection and defense of national security missions.
Kathleen Mitford has been a part of the PTC IoT story since its beginning. At the time, she was a leader in PTC’s Corporate Strategy group and involved in the M&As (mergers and acquisitions) of companies such as ThingWorx, Axeda, Coldlight, Kepware, and Vuforia into PTC. In her current executive leadership role, Mitford helps integrate PTC’s ThingWorx platform as a key enabler of connected products and transformation in digital engineering, manufacturing, service lifecycle management, and retail. She’s been actively involved in several strategic transformational programs and thought leadership campaigns, and her ability to identify opportunities has helped position PTC for its continued IoT success.
Caralynn Nowinski Collens
With Caralynn Nowinski Collens at the helm, UI LABS, a Chicago-based innovation accelerator for manufacturing and infrastructure, has grown from a small organization with just three employees to about 60 employees and more than 300 partners from 34 states. Collens’ leadership is integral to UI LABS’ efforts to foster innovation, encourage collaboration, and drive economic growth, transforming entire industries using the power of technology. Her unique background, which spans the medical, startup, venture capital, and academic fields, helps promote critical cross-sector relationships. Collens is an advocate of “unnatural alliances” that spur innovation, and she has positioned UI LABS to curate and accelerate these partnerships.
In 2015, Fortune.com asked, “Is this woman (Meredith Perry) the next Elon Musk?” Perry invented uBeam, a technology that uses ultrasound to transmit power over the air to safely charge multiple electronic devices wirelessly and from a distance. She founded uBeam in 2011 while she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Perry continues to run the company as CEO today. Perry says she enjoys finding simple solutions to complex scientific problems. Describing uBeam technology as “Wi-Fi for energy,” Perry has been recognized widely for her idea, which could very well become the next big thing in connected devices.
VP, Product Management
Growing up in India, Gayathri Rajan came from a family of engineers, and Rajan says she knew from a young age that she wanted to make things too. Rajan also determined early on that she would like to attend Cambridge University, which she did, earning a degree in chemical engineering. After working in various engineering and product management positions at companies such as Unilever and the Vanguard Group, Rajan joined the team at Google in 2006. As vice president of product management, Rajan currently leads Google’s Geo (Maps ++) monetization. She believes there is always a way to make things better with technology.
With her unique ability to educate technologists on new ways of thinking and make new technology relevant to business users, Jane Ren has been an integral part of driving the growth of Atomiton from its onset. Prior to Atomiton, Ren was already contributing to the IoT space as part of the original team that launched GE Digital. As Atomiton’s CEO, Ren has helped shape the company from an idea to a successful organization that’s leading the industry in building IoT applications. A medical doctor by training, Ren’s experience as a cross-industry innovator helps Atomiton drive relevant products in key markets.
Chief Commercial Officer, Current Lighting and Intelligent Solutions
Throughout the past 20+ years, Beverly Rider has run international and domestic enterprise organizations within Fortune 50 companies and spent more than six years as the CEO of an IoT startup company. Rider’s leadership experience spans the IoT, as well as smart cities, cloud, and telecommunications. As a change agent, Rider pursues collaborative strategies that drive sales, revenues, and organizational enhancements. She’s currently the chief commercial officer for Current, powered by GE. Current is a startup within the walls of GE that is making commercial buildings and industrial facilities more energy efficient by blending advanced energy technologies with networked sensors and software.