Women are working and leading the best companies. As tech continues to evolve, women are more focused than ever to demonstrate their strength, passion, and dedication to help innovate and lead technology in the age of digitization and automation across the globe. Today’s progress comes as a result of decades of hard work, although there is still quite of bit of work yet to be done.
However, research also reveals as automation continues to become even more pervasive it will cause some women to leave the workforce or force them to change the way they work. Despite the many changes that will occur in the marketplace, the women on this list have shown they are determined to stay a steady course. Many, in fact, have already altered their skillsets changing the roles they have within their organizations.
If we look at the data, women rose up the ranks in many businesses beginning in the 1960s. According to the BLS, the top four industries employing women in 1964 were manufacturing; trade, transportation, and utilities, local government; and education and health services.
Today, women account for more than half of all workers within several industries such as financial, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and other services. However, they are still underrepresented in many industries.
In fact, a recent report by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows gains in female participation in science and engineering occupations, but at the same time the number of patent-holding female inventors is stagnating. Even with this increase in patent counts, women inventors made up only 12% of all inventors on patents granted in 2016.
The technology-intensive states as well as those where women comprise a large percentage of the state’s overall workforce, show higher rates of women inventors. Women inventors are often increasingly concentrated in specific technologies, suggesting that women are specializing in areas where female predecessors have traditionally patented rather than entering into male-dominated fields.
This is why the role of women in technology is so critical today. Innovation drives growth, and it is going to require both men and women to come to the table. As McKinsey recently noted, this will require a more skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy worker in the age of automation.
This is where the Women of M2M and IoT list enters the equation. It is comprised of some of the most powerful, tech warriors, and thus, successful women in the emerging technology sector. These women are selected because they each bring a unique lens to their respective companies that helps push connected technologies forward. Each year, Connected World magazine compiles nominations that are directed to the editorial staff. Winners are then chosen by a group of their peers within the industry.
This year, the seventh annual awards program recognized women as trailblazers and innovators in the IoT space. In addition, the women were celebrated at an event in June for their achievements of spreading the message of the Internet of Things. Help us continue to honor each of these women by reading on and learning more about this year’s Women of M2M and IoT. Please don’t hesitate to acknowledge these ladies with a nod on social media.
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Hanane Becha Jaoua
Florence Delalande Henrichs
Melissa King Ruths
Denise McCutchen Grace
As the bar continues to rise in terms of customer expectations, Aileen Allkins brings her nearly 30 years of experience transforming customer experience to Microsoft. Today she is responsible for an international team of more than 25,000 individuals and works with high-performance teams supporting high-priority customers across a multitude of scenarios from customer-service account and billing to technical issues and breaking down barriers. She is the first to admit that the potential to transform how the company serves customers across all industries is endless. She is inspired by the constant opportunities that technology offers, particularly when used to help and empower accessibility and create economic opportunity. Allkins has experience managing the complexity of change in multicultural environments. Throughout her career, she has focused on programs to support skill and career development, empowerment, diversity, and inclusion.
In her current role at Traxens, Hanane Becha Jaoua is responsible for driving standardization for smart containers for key industries such as maritime and rail freight. She also focuses much of her time on developing the company’s own standardization strategy. Since the foundation of the company, she has been working to fulfil her vision of developing standards for the smart containers industry and breaking down long-established barriers. She is also UN CEFACT Transport & Logistics Domain Smart Container Project Leader at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). In this role, she also has an impact on the development of a standardization strategy that should improve interoperability for the whole industry, while she also focuses on defining new added-value services that will have a huge global economic impact. Colleagues report that she is very approachable and always open to help other STEM professions and she strives to be a role model encouraging other women to move upward.
Christine Billaud brings more than 15 years of experience in introducing new digital processes and value-add solutions in global organizations and economies. Her expertise includes business transformation and change management, innovative solutions, pilot and proof of concept development, Internet of Things, and connected strategy delivery platforms strategy development and implementation, and process and project management in cross-function and cross-borders context. Combining a strong technical background intertwined with solid business acumen and exposure in diverse cultures, she is an enthusiastic leader who works well in collaborative environments. She has a self-described “intrapreneur-inquisitive” mind and a persistent determination and excitement to experiment and implement creative and innovative solutions and has a proven track record of carrying out assignments to drive business transformation and business development.
Amy Bunszel leads a global team of 1,200 to develop product strategy and execution for Autodesk’s 3D design and creation portfolio. With some 20 years of experience, she cofounded a company in 1996 before joining Autodesk proving she has an amazing vision for tech. She combines her roots as a startup cofounder with deep product management knowledge and large-scale product execution to build high performing teams focused on delivering value to customers. At the same time, she has a unique ability to inspire innovative strategy while driving large-scale agile software development. In her time at Autodesk, the company’s recurring revenue has been soaring to more than 90% and the stock price climbed three times after she led the digital transformation of the products to a subscription model. She has also sparked a positive culture of customer-centered innovation and helped to scale it up.
Allison Clift-Jennings launched and managed technology startups in three big cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Today, she is the cofounder and CEO of Filament, an enterprise blockchain technology company that is making it possible for corporations with connected IoT machines. She is combining technology innovation with her executive vision to advance the Industrial IoT market by developing the technology necessary to realize the ultimate value of connected machines. Clift-Jennings is laser-focused on supporting the advancement of women and minorities and ensures there is diversity at her company. Further, she donates her time and experience in support of the startup and emerging business community and continues to serve as a mentor to other individuals and organizations. One example is her participation in Backstage Capital’s mentor program, where she offers her guidance based on her ongoing experience and skills.
Driving industry collaboration and innovation for 30 years, Lubna Dajani is the founder of Allternet Ltd., a digital transformation, design, strategy, and growth firm. Serving as an advisor to the CEO of Solacia, , the company stock went from between $3 and $4 a share to more than $11 per share. For Intercede, she repositioned the company to be a leader in delivering digital trust with new offerings around IoT (Internet of Things) security. She was the founding secretary of several of the GSMA’s working groups on the behalf of network operators and technology members. But that not all she can do, as a mentor to startups, she has donated her time to empowering the youth and particularly women to be more and to encourage them to reach for the stars. She is a volunteer for many organizations including Springboard Enterprises and advisor to many enterprising students around the world.
Susan Dalton has been instrumental in creating a culture of technology innovation in her company. Seven years ago, she joined GCP Applied Technologies to bring her 35 years of advanced technology experience to the company. While at GCP, she has led the creation of a new category in the specialty construction industry that combines sensor technology with predictive analytics to measure and manage concrete in transit. She also supports technology initiatives in the organization that advance product offerings and internal operations. Her team has also developed the Verifi offering, which combines material science, IoT, software development, and data science to bring a new approach to ready mix concrete delivery. She is passionate about mentoring the next generation of women in all phases of their careers. Outside of the company, Dalton coaches undergraduate students at Babson College in the Coaching for Leadership and Teamwork Program and serves as a mentor for a graduate student in the school. She believes in breaking down long-established barriers all while inspiring the next generation to see the many opportunities that exist in construction.
Florence Delalande Henrichs is responsible for all rail freight-related projects, including her company’s Digital Freight Train initiative, which turns conventional wagons into intelligent wagons. Her vision is to advance the rail freight industry through digitalization, which can help market players overcome challenges that might hinder the development of this industry. The company’s initial key focus was on the maritime industry, but with her joining the company, the focus was expanded to rail and now it is one of the key drivers for the company. She has been working to further develop this business unit by working on developing rail freight-related projects, while also enabling customers to gather data on their goods. Her objective is to stand as a role model to all women to show what they can achieve and how they can work on making their vision become reality.
With a team in Asia, Europe, and America, Mary Dugan is responsible for leading the global infrastructure team and the global infrastructure strategy and planning, architecture, engineering, operations, and vendor management. With more than 25 years of experience, with 15 in senior IT leadership positions, she has experience in managing infrastructure technologies including hosting services, unified communications, PC lifestyle management, voice and data networks, mobility, IP telephony, contact centers, and service desks. In 2016, she was asked to take the lead for JCI/Tyco IT integration efforts. Dugan has built an impressive team that delivers uncanny results by aligning technology initiatives with business goals. Further, she has served on a number of partner executive advisory boards and received merits and awards that far exceed customer expectations.
With a focus on IoT and emerging technology, Colleen Ekas has influenced channel enablement and government contracting to improve advanced solutions product development to a whole new level. She has led a remarkable team to establish processes to ensure inspired solutions are brought to market quickly. Since taking her role, she has established the smart-cities practice and product plan, which has shown prodigious growth year-over-year for the past three years. This has evolved to include product enablement as well as strategic initiatives. Ekas is also a fervent advocate for women in technology and participates in several organizations through her role at AT&T. She is an active member in AT&T’s Women of Business and Women of AT&T. She volunteered at the Girl Up for STEM Boot Camp, which helps middle school and high school aged girls in STEM programs. She is impassioned to encourage the next generation to be enthusiastic about innovating, mobile, and digital skills. In her spare time, she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and advocates for patients through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Brianne Ford runs a team of technologists to ensure that schools have the technology needed to serve teachers and students. The IT administration team is responsible for department leadership and operations and provides project management and communications to keep projects moving forward. Ford has a great vision and leadership skills and creates an atmosphere of continuous learning for her staff and makes sure they understand the importance of their role in educating students. In the last five years, IUSD has increased the number of Chromebooks from 7,500 to more than 34,000, which gives students access to individualized curriculum, learning activities, and online resources, personalized for each student. As a mother to two young girls, she is actively involved with them in school programs, as well as promotes women in the workplace, specifically in technology. She also serves on the California Educational Technology Professionals Assn. Board of Directors and is able to influence California schools through initiatives and resources she provides.
Recognized as an effective leader, Kim Green-Kerr understands the importance of leadership talent within the organization and staff development, coaching, succession planning, competency development, and performance management. Quite simply, she recognizes that it needs the right talent in the right job. Today, she is responsible for implementing strategy and driving sales execution with SMBs (small-and-medium businesses), enterprise, and government segments. To her position, she brings high energy, business savvy, and sales acumen to support the company and partner with businesses of all sizes. Throughout her career, she has been active in various organizations as a mentor and has served as a board member of Inforum, a women’s networking organization, and Matrix Human Services, a nonprofit organization. She also previously served as a board member for Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area.
As the founding president and CEO of Iyka Enterprises, Poonam Gupta-Krishnan is a transformative leader in technology innovation and is a founder of a technology innovation exchange platform that is truly making a difference. She knows what she wants and she makes it happen. With that in mind, she founded the company in 2000 with one computer in her bedroom and it has grown to a multinational company serving both the public and private sectors, with customers that include Federal Aviation Admin., Jersey Telecom, and more. She has always been involved in business, technology, and local community and has created programs and industries groups for the notion of boosting women in business and in emerging economies. Currently, she is running for School Board District 303. In her board and advisory roles, Gupta-Krishnan has established many programs and offerings and has received a number of national and international accolades.
Executive Director, Products and Services Delivery Management Office
In March 2017, Carlene Ileto was named to her current role, where she leads a team of highly skilled systems and cyber engineers, as well as program managers and enterprise architects. She is responsible for the Enterprise Services Strategy and Technology Roadmap and her team focuses on the delivery of products and services. In her 30 years working in IT, she has focused on systems and application development and deployment both in private industry as well as the government sector. As an executive within the federal government, she holds three basic principles as very important to success both in her work and personal life: accountability and taking ownership and responsibility for the task assigned; respect for the individual and ensuring that all people and employees are treated with value and respect; and integrity because there is no substitution for the trust. She is a selfless leader and is concerned for other women, continuously supporting them through her personal mentorship efforts.
Lyne Jacques plays both a tactical and strategic role within the organization, aligning the entire customer experience process with the aim of increasing revenue and customer retention. She has a passion for building customer-centric teams that capitalize on market opportunities in hyper-growth tech sectors and leads a group that drives performance and results for customers. She enjoys working with global companies to build digital transformation strategies to help them realize the power of artificial intelligence and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions for their business journey. Under her leadership, she has ensured that the entire organization is aligned on one goal; internal teams are intertwined and jointly working toward the company goal; cross-functional teams are able to clearly articulate the corporate strategy; and teams have action plans, resources, and metrics in place to execute on the strategy while driving growth. Throughout her career, she has put in place numerous formal (and informal) mentoring programs that offer the support and resources necessary to advance women and ensure leadership from the classroom to boardroom.
With deep expertise in operations and product management, Denise Johnson joined Caterpillar in 2011, serving initially as the general manager of Specialty Products within Caterpillar’s Reman & Components Division. Today, she is a group president of Caterpillar and is responsible for resource industries, which includes innovation and technology development, material handling and underground, and the surface mining and technology divisions. While most might consider her role a daunting task, she finds even more time to be involved in numerous boards both inside and outside her organization. Within the 94-year-old company, she is the executive sponsor of the Caterpillar Women in Leadership initiative. She understands the powerful role women play in industry and that is why she has made it her mission to help women move the barriers with the help of automation and digital technology. Johnson also serves on boards including the National Mining Assn., National Assn. of Manufacturers, The Mosaic Co., MIT Leaders for Global Operations Governing Board, and the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.
Susan Johnson began her career as an investment banker, where she provided a range of financial advisory services to communications and technology clients. Today, she is responsible for AT&T’s international and domestic strategy and partnership development for network connections. In this role, Johnson oversees global and national access management, international voice termination, roaming support, and tower strategy for the AT&T Radio Access Network. Her team manages strategic sourcing, purchasing, supplier diversity, sustainability, and supply chain logistics. This is a big job and one that Susan does not take lightly. In addition to her role, she is also very involved in the AT&T initiative to architect AT&T’s infrastructure toward software-defined networking. Simply, she places a high priority on advancing technology and the harder she works, she is striving for a better age of digital transformation.. What little time she has left, outside of the company, she is an active runner and cyclist and is on the board of Quest Forum, which is a global quality and sustainability association.
Melanie Kalmar has spent her career spearheading and driving key transformational efforts, including being responsible for launching the information systems required to operate Sadara, the joint venture developed by Dow and Saudi Aramco. Today, she is in charge of driving the strategy for information technology and all digital capabilities on a global basis in order to advance the company’s business strategy and lead its digital transformation. Part of this role includes information systems organization, cybersecurity and risk management, reporting and advanced analytics, and facilities management. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, she is also involved in setting the strategic direction to define priorities and is accountable for delivering enterprise-level results. Additionally, she is a member of the Michigan Council for Women in Technology and the Dead’s Council for Central Michigan University’s School of Business.
When she’s not driving for treasures in the sea, Melissa King Ruths is focused on helping manufacturers build a digital ecosystem that will improve business performance. She is willing to work closely with a team and always ready to help manufacturers and producers improve safety and reliability. . She started her career as an intern at Shell Oil Co., and Anheuser-Busch, before moving to Emerson. Beginning as a strategic planner, she has also held roles in business development, marketing, and as director of downstream natural gas. Today, she serves as the vice president of Plantweb solutions and services, where she leads global sales for Emerson’s digital transformation business. Her specialties include digital customer experience, lead management, voice of the customer market research, and product management. One of her main objectives is to help customers achieve top quartile performance through digital transformation.
Julie Lagacy joined Caterpillar initially as a pricing analyst, and has served in a number of pricing positions with increasing responsibilities. She then moved into the leadership positions of product manager, commercial manager, and human resources manager. In 2013, she was named the vice president of the finance services division where she provided financial and strategic leadership during the integration of Bucyrus Intl., one of the company’s acquisitions. She was also the CFO for Caterpillar Global Mining. In 2015, she began her current role. Today, she is a vice president with responsibility for GIS (global information services) division and CIO. In this position, she leads a team that is responsible for Caterpillar’s global information technology. She is also a certified management accountant and earned her bachelor’s degrees in economics and management and her master’s degree in business administration.
Mrinalini Lakshminarayanan has a proven track record leading disruptive global product strategies, including successfully guiding early state accelerator initiatives for quick time-to-market introduction of disruptive and transformational products. Today she serves as the head of industrial IoT solutions in the Motions Systems Group, where she leads her company’s Industry 4.0 vision through industrial IoT strategy and growing a new service revenue stream. Her colleagues recognize her as someone who is willing to work diligently to both formalize objectives and deliver exceptional results. She recognizes the importance the role women play to drive technology forward, as she also volunteers on several boards including the Women Influence Chicago.
Sally Lehnhardt is responsible for defining and executing the company’s information technology strategy. Throughout her career, she has strived to help meet her personal challenges of keeping all the companies she works for to achieve forward-thinking initiatives in their technology strategies, while also driving advancements through her influence on leveraging existing and emerging technologies in developing strong, effective IT platforms and processes that help maintain a competitive advantage for the organization and the customers. In her current role, she oversees, manages, and optimizes technology, data, and process to support the company operations and also plays a significant part in the company’s dedication to being a gender-balanced business. Lehnhardt has helped businesses reframe existing technology platforms and tools and has driven advances in new solutions that save time and cost of delivering services to customers. She serves alongside a female CEO and CFO and has played a significant part in the company’s dedication to be a gender-balanced business and encouraging a culture where talented men and women are given equal opportunities to succeed.
Sylvia Lu has been instrumental in the evolution of global wireless connectivity standards for the cellular Internet of Things. She is also dedicated to addressing societal impacts of emerging technology and improving the awareness of embedding the human element in technological design process. Today, she is responsible for enabling the next generation IoT technologies and standards in verticals beyond the telecoms industry. Additionally, she provides independent advice to government and U.K. communications policy panel. She is the first female board member and director of Cambridge Wireless, which is a nonprofit international organization for companies involved in the research, development, and application of fast-moving wireless and related technologies. Further, Lu gives talks regularly to local schools and universities to empower the next generation of female engineers.
Eve Maler is a renowned strategist, innovator, and communicator, with a specific focus on digital identity, security, privacy, and consent and creating successful wide-scale ecosystems and fostering individual empowerment. In her current role, she drives privacy and consent innovation for the ForgeRock Identity Platform, which enables user-controlled and compliant data sharing across web, mobile, and IoT contexts. Her specialties include access management, standards, and security, among others. She founded and leads UMA (user-managed access) standards efforts and guides the ForgeRock implementation of UMA and other privacy and consent solutions. Maler also directs her company’s engagement in interoperability standards such as Health Relationship Trust and provides advice to public and private forums.
Denise McCutchen Grace is responsible for a staff of 265 technology professionals who create technology solutions for customers across the globe. The team she leads is accountable for solutions that accelerate the company’s clients digital transformation. In January, she won the Spirit of Concentrix award, in recognition of her leadership efforts in helping to bring two companies together. Following the acquisition, she has worked hard to educate the new leadership on the customer interaction technology as well as its people, with a strong focus on communications between the companies. She is active in pro-bono coaching for female nonprofit executives. She also proudly volunteers with an organization that matches senior female executives with mid-career female managers to provide guidance and advice.
Ha Nguyen has experience with market and financial analyses, deal sourcing, investment valuation, investor relations, and portfolio management, having worked at a Vietnam-focused fund, a Danish private equity firm, and more. She has worked with companies and investment funds, having gained tremendous international experience in the U.S., Denmark, India, Singapore, Japan, and China. This has enabled her to develop a global perspective and ability to build cross-cultural relationships. Today, she is the vice president of a venture capital firm that is focused exclusively on the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). She also has experience working with technology companies and entrepreneurs in both the venture capital and private equity industries. Her team says she is refreshingly real. She cofounded the ABF4 initiative which is a grass-roots collaboration that supports, encourages, and develops initiatives that create mentorship, learning, networking opportunities, and access to supporting resources for female founders; and she is part of Women in Tech Task Force.
Carletta Ooton leads the health, safety, sustainability, security, and compliance team at Amazon, which falls into three very high level groups including: global security and loss prevention for sites, people, and inventory; sustainability, which includes energy and environment, social responsibility, packaging, sustainability science and innovation, and sustainability services; and compliance, which includes food safety, product safety, restricted products, EHS, global trade services, and dangerous goods. Ooton is an experienced executive with a history of working in fast-moving consumer goods, retail, and the technology industry. Her skillset includes quality management, food and product safety, sustainability, and continuous improvement. She is able to bridge the gap between technical policy and strategy.
Joanna Peña-Bickley is a self-proclaimed 21st century renaissance woman, design technologist, and the mother of the cognitive experience design. Her insatiable curiosity moves the C-Suite beyond obvious ideas and products, toward making experiences for the connected era. Today, she serves as the head of design, IoT, where she enables the design of the platforms and products that empower people to connect physical things to the cloud, while extracting untapped value and using the data to make customer, employee, or professional experiences intelligent. Her activism and passion has advanced the inclusion of women on U.S. currency, the S.T.E.A.M.D. education movement, digital literacy for women and girls globally, as well as increased funding for public school music and art programs.