Ep 40: Logicalis: Celebrating Girls (and Women) in Technology

Diva Tech Talk was honored to be onsite at one of the largest Midwestern offices for Logicalis U.S., during its recent GIRLS IN TECHNOLOGY DAY. Logicalis (www.us.logicalis.com) is an international information technology solutions and managed services provider that designs, builds and supports enterprise technology solutions for customers throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia Pacific.  The day included the CEO of Logicalis U.S., other Logicalis executives, executives from Logicalis customers, an executive from CISCO’s Meraki division, CISCO staff members, high school teachers, and MCWT (Michigan Council of Technology) members ---- who all volunteered their time to part of the agenda.  Volunteers found that they gained as much from helping at the event, as the girls who were hosted.

During the full day, Logicalis entertained 56 high school and early college girls, offering tailored discussions of practical topics related to succeeding in a technology career. Horizon-broadening sessions covered topics as diverse as: uncovering what you are good at, communicating with confidence, the wide variety of career options in the technology field, how to use social media to build your personal brand, how to ace a job interview, and how to write an excellent resume.  The day included a tour of the Logicalis offices, highlighting the latest technology the company uses to enhance employee productivity, and featured “hands on” interactive sessions, as well as affording the participants the opportunity to get professional headshots done, throughout the morning and afternoon.

Logicalis supports an internal group dedicated to fostering the missions of its own women employees.  Two of the veteran leaders of that group (Logicalis Vice Presidents, Renae Johnson and Julie Spiller) were in the cohort interviewed during this podcast.  WOMEN OF LOGICALIS has introduced a variety of programs to inspire and help its women employees.   Julie mentioned their “Empower Hours,” a bimonthly phone session, to serve Logicalis women throughout the U.S., featuring topics and speakers of unique interest.  Both Renae and Julie are enthusiastic proponents of community service and mentoring (including spontaneous “mentor moments”), and feel that they receive as much as they contribute when participating in those activities.

Ghazal Asif, Director of Global Channels of Cisco Meraki, was a key participant in the day. The older sister of three younger female siblings, Ghazal was enthusiastic about having the chance to be one of the main keynote speakers since “the idea of women having equal opportunity is very near and dear to my heart.” She spoke eloquently about the need to be fearless in the face of any setback, or any opportunity.  “We get so scared,” she said. “We are scared someone is going to say ‘no’ to us; we’re scared to raise our hand; we’re scared to negotiate. If we can just learn to harness that fear, and realize that feeling is natural.  We’re human beings, we are wired to be scared.  But go and do it anyway. More women would progress within their careers, if there wasn’t a fear that was holding them back.”  

Ghazal is passionate about her role in leading the WOMEN OF MERAKI effort in her own company, and contributing to events, like this day, to encourage girls/women. “If we look at the data and the stats, it is sad to see that over the last couple of decades, we haven’t made much progress” in diversity building, she said. “Yet, as of today, there’s more awareness, more research on why diversity and inclusion is so good for companies. In every industry, across every function, women are under-represented. More women should step forward so that in 10 or 20 years from now, we can look back and say ‘we made a difference and we changed some of those stats’ for the next generation, and generations to come.”  Ghazal also discussed how she works on building diversity in the teams that she personally leads. “Every single person has biases,” she said. “I try and make sure that I am very aware of any self-conscious biases that I might have. And I encourage other leaders, particularly hiring managers, to do the same thing.”   Ghazal additionally exhorts other technology -oriented women to “let young girls know how rewarding of a career technology is!”  

Finally, Vince DeLuca, CEO of Logicalis, took time to present to this audience because “these young ladies are our future.”  DeLuca was encouraged by his interactions with the girls and women.  “Knowing that they have interest in technology is really important,” he said.  “I also think that overall diversity in the field is wildly important to our (Logicalis) success. When we have a male-dominated organization, with just male leaders, we don’t enough of a flow of ideas.”   DeLuca spoke about other initiatives that Logicalis is implementing to address the gender gap.  “We have a full-fledged diversity program that we kicked off recently,” he said.  “We’ve brought in outside consultants to help us really understand what that framework should look like. We firmly believe that having more women leaders in our organization will really help us.”

“We have a formal mentoring program when people come into Logicalis, and it’s not meant to be just a ‘one time’ thing” DeLuca shared. He points to his own career having been strongly assisted by having a mentor. “Having that individual be there for you is ultra-important to your success.”   Encouraging a variety of mentors, DeLuca also said “You can never have enough input.” DeLuca really enjoyed his event participation.  “To see the amount of interest, the general attention of these young ladies is really rewarding.  The benefit that I get out of this would be seeing every one of these folks succeed in their own passion.  I may not get to see that individually, but as a group I think they will do that; and that, to me, is the best reward that I could ever get.”

DeLuca waxed philosophical about how the overall education of our youth can be helped by everyone in their environment. “We live in such an interesting world right now.  I think, as a society, we need to do a better job educating everyone about what’s happening out there,” he said.  “There should be ways to educate people who are not in technology-centric, urban areas.   That should be a foundational element.  Then, as you do with your own children, you work with them, day in and day out, making sure they have a platform for success. It does start at home. From a technology perspective, we need to make sure that the moms are just as equipped to understand what’s happening out there. And then, I think we need some programmatics in the school system. There’s a bit of a foundation that is ‘real world’ that needs to be applied in the classroom.”  DeLuca sees some key tech trends that can help with this.  “Collaboration has to be near the top,” he said. “There’s so many ways to connect vast amounts of resource groups or information.”   DeLuca is proud that community-building is part of the Logicalis culture. “Giving back to the communities we serve is a core value, across all our offices,” he said. “It’s so important to us, not just to reap the benefit of what we are trying to do with our customers, but making an impact into the community."

Learn more about Logicalis: www.us.logicalis.com/

 

Follow us on Twitter  - @divatechtalks

Visit us on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk

Catch us on Stitcher and we are also searchable on iTunes.