Is Cloud Communications the Right Place for Talented Women?
Oct 14, 2016
There is a general perception that IT is mostly a male-centric industry. In fact, the entire business world is still largely male-dominated. However, women are increasingly empowered to take leadership roles, including in IT companies. Many start as programmers and then climb up the corporate ladder to become C-level executives with a powerful vision and strong leadership skills. Regardless of their background, women always bring a different perspective to the IT world, and often—valuable insights that push the industry forward.
We continue our conversation with Michelle Accardi, Chief Operating Officer at Star2Star, Kira Makagon, EVP of Innovation at RingCentral, and Jan Sarro, EVP Marketing and Business Development at Fusion.
Michelle Accardi-Petersen is a world-renowned technical thought leader on next-generation marketing and communications strategies and author of Agile Marketing. In 2009 she was named to the Gulf Coast Business Review’s 40 under 40, and in 2008 she was recognized by South Florida Business Journal as Woman Who Means Business for South Florida. Michelle holds an MBA from American Intercontinental University and earned a bachelor's degree from University of South Florida.
Kira Makagon is a successful serial entrepreneur and technology industry leader. A graduate of UC Berkeley in computer science and Haas School of Business, she enjoys working with entrepreneurs and serves as an advisor to early-stage companies, including Illuminate Ventures, Yozio, Qubell, News360, 1 World Online and Airframe, where she is also a member of the Board of Directors. Kira’s recent awards include 2015 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award and2015 Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards.
Jan Sarro has held senior executive marketing and sales management positions at Argo Communications, FTC Communications, TRT Communications, Viatel and WorldCom. She and her team are proud sponsors of Women in the Channel and are very active in promoting industry programs that encourage (and mentor) young women in technology.
Here follow Michelle, Kira and Jan’s perspectives on the role of women in technology and their choice to work for leading cloud communications providers.
What do you enjoy most about the organization you work for and why do you consider it a good place for women in technology to seek professional realization?
Michelle: The best part about Star2Star is the team that we have assembled. Everyone here is truly dedicated to our mission. We want to change the world, and we want to change it by empowering businesses to communicate efficiently and cost-effectively. When you work with the best, it’s easier to be the best. Star2Star makes sure that the best and brightest advance and any woman (or any employee) who’s willing to put in the effort to excel will have plenty of opportunities to grow with our constantly expanding company.
Kira: RingCentral is a leader in the cloud communications space, which can be very exciting and challenging at the same time. RingCentral’s strength lies on its ability to be hyper-focused on innovation and execution. Many departments across RingCentral, from engineering to marketing, have strong gender diversity, which I believe yields more creative and well-rounded products. By making diversity a high priority, RingCentral has created a work environment in which all employees can thrive
Jan: I have been growing along with Fusion for over fourteen years now, and throughout that time, I have watched the company reinvent itself in powerful ways through periods of challenge and change. Not to overuse tag lines, but Fusion truly is forward-thinking, flexible and fast, employing advanced yet proven cloud technology to deliver the kinds of productivity-enhancing solutions that the cloud makes possible. I have stayed through all these years because Fusion never loses sight of its mission to serve the customer first, solving problems with the right solution at the right time at the right cost. We are a technology company that knows from deep experience that while technology changes fast and sometimes furiously, the basic needs of our customers remain essentially the same. Their simple, straightforward request: deliver what I need to succeed, when I need it, and solve the problems that keep me up at night.
Fusion is a collaboration of experienced, talented team members who care passionately about their work and each other. We are committed to advance not only the best and the brightest, but the most passionate and committed as well, understanding that the will to succeed is often the best predictor of success. Fusion encourages each and every employee, whether here since the beginning 19 years ago, or a recent hire through one of our six acquisitions in less than four years, to seize the opportunity to master today with a clear eye to what’s up next tomorrow. It’s an exciting, dynamic environment, and our CEO, Matt Rosen, lives his belief that frequent, direct communication, the consistent sharing of information, and encouraging the open exchange of ideas that might drive efficiency or create something new are essential to realizing each team member’s full potential. It is a personal joy for me to have the opportunity to mentor many outstanding young women as they build their careers and future with Fusion.
What is your vision for the role of women in an increasingly technology-centric world?
Michelle: The role of women will be exactly the same as the role of men, as leaders at every stage of the industry, from developers to marketers to CEOs. We’re already seeing more and more women enter the technology industry, numbers that are only going to explode as young adults who have been plugged in their entire lives continue to join the workforce. Women are already making tremendous strides in technology, and that is only going to continue.
Kira: I believe that women and men are equals in the technology space. Women have always been in technology—the first programmers in history were women and it was seen as a less prestigious occupation than being an engineer. Regarding IoT specifically, I think that women by nature have a different perspective on technology—a higher level of sensitivity and emotion are often reflected in the technology they design.
Jan: Women have important contributions to make as the human family struggles with the challenges, as well as the benefits, of technology “advances”. Enamored by the “wow factor”, and the increasingly addictive nature of the always-on, always-ready, always-available way we communicate today, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that technology employed in service to humanity is its best use. We need to engage in strategies that maximize benefits to more and more people in more and more places and circumstances, while mitigating the sometimes numbing effects of life lived through the machine. Throughout history, women have frequently said no to excess and yes to a considered, clear-eyed assessment of how best to ennoble as well as enable humanity. Fusion is a proud and active sponsor of Women in the Channel, which is devoted to engaging women in technology to address just this sort of important issue. We fully encourage and embrace the contributions of women to summon their collective histories and experiences to bring closer the day that we truly recognize that machine-to-machine communication is really about bringing each of us closer to each other as members of one human family.
I’d like to thank our distinguished guests for sharing their unique perspectives and to wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
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