Podcast

Ep 8: Rising Up with Sue Schade and Kate Catlin

In this episode, we spotlight two diverse women leaders helping build and support a strong community of women in technology. Kate Catlin, millennial founder of Women Rising, a new and exploding network of women in tech, invited us to attend a fireside chat with “Baby Boomer” Sue Schade, CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers. We share the mission of Kate’s new program and Sue’s equally inspiring story focused on a career that spans three decades.

Like many women, Kate first entered technology by accident. While working as a community manager for Grand Circus, a tech training institute in Downtown Detroit, she decided to try out a coding class. She loved learning how to code and soon after entered Detroit Lab’s apprenticeship program to further develop her skills.  Around this time Kate began looking up to a friend and mentor, Erika Carlson, co-founder of Girl Develop IT Detroit. She learned how important mentorship is for women, sparking the idea for Women Rising.

Women Rising is an online-based platform with an algorithm to match women in tech to appropriate mentors, monthly. The group also hosts frequent events bringing leaders like Sue Schade to the community. Kate shares how Women Rising works and what she hopes women in tech get out of it in order to “rise up.”

What’s one thing Kate would like to see women get from her platform?

“Greater ‘Ballsy- ness’,” said Kate. “There’s a certain gumption that it takes to rise up. You have to be really willing to put yourself out there and fail. You have to know that other people have your back.”

She hopes Women Rising helps women in tech know there’s an entire community here that has your back. It’s free to create a profile and get started connecting inside their network. Check out Women Rising online at: http://www.womenrising.co/

Next we spoke with Sue Schade, CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers, who has spent over 30 years in the world of technology management and shared some great tips on leadership. Sue started as a developer but a year later moved into a business analyst position. She then was asked to move into management and lead a newly-formed team, before becoming a regional CIO.

How did Sue make the leap into management? The first thought that came to her when asked to manage was: “I don’t know what these people do!” She quickly realized that was okay, as long as she could ask the right questions and oversee the work. She learned a lot along the way, including the following crucial management tips:

  • Be very genuine and authentic as a person

  • Be clear about your values

  • Lead by example

  • Think strategically and execute

For women leaders she says it’s not easy. You have to recognize your own strengths and be true to yourself. She wants women in technology to know they don’t have to manage like men to be effective, but develop their own unique styles.

Sue says she “grew up” in an organization over a 12 year period where she eventually became a regional CIO. During this time she took a number of courses to help develop her skills. In her opinion, you can learn skills, but you have to develop your own personal leadership style.  She now has a large role as CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health System, frequently named as one of the top 10 healthcare systems in the United States.

More recently, Sue has been very actively speaking out on women in technology. A diverse workforce she believes is vital for competing in a global economy, and the numbers around women in technology and STEM are way behind. But Sue says that it is not just about the numbers, it’s about the applications and innovations that come from diverse people collaborating. Do we have a balanced viewpoint from the perspective of both women and men?

You can learn more about Sue Schade by visiting her Health IT Connect blog at www.sueschade.com.

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Ep 4: Fearless Jane Sydlowski: Advice After Two Decades of Tech Success

 

The Divas from Diva Tech Talk recently interviewed Jane Sydlowski, Founder and CEO of AMI Strategies (www.amistrategies.com). Jane is quite unique. There are a handful of women, who created and continue to lead successful technology companies, thriving over 20 years.  The number of those women becomes minuscule, when you examine tech companies in the Midwest vs. Silicon Valley or Route 128 in Massachusetts.  Jane’s Michigan-based company is exceptional, approaching its 25 year anniversary, having carved out an innovative technology niche, serving clients all over the country.

Jane founded AMI Strategies to help the business community make intelligent decisions when it comes to telecommunications expenditures. One of the company’s breakthrough products, temNOW™, is a cloud-based solution, saving Fortune 1000 companies, and smaller businesses, millions in costs.

Jane says "[her] brain is wired that way", as she refers to her love for math/engineering, her personal mission, and the path she pursued in college. When she was an engineer at a major telecommunications provider, she observed the “fat” in the invoices and network architecture, and knew there was a better way to manage expenses and communications infrastructure.  AMI Strategies was born from Jane’s personal conviction that applying technology and rigorous, honest business practices to that problem would help companies significantly save, succeed and thrive.

Over 24 years,  AMI Strategies (staffed by 60% women), survived two recessions, with 50% of the largest clients filing for bankruptcy at some point in recessionary periods.  “Our labor costs doubled, because clients needed us, but funds coming in were delayed,” Jane says.  Nevertheless, AMI carried on, and Jane attributes that to the fact that she is guided by a higher power.  She also says that many of her life lessons have emanated from what raising her three children has taught her.  Jane’s advice to women leaders is to deploy what she calls her learned “football skills:” be competitive, unemotional, and fearless.Her AMI team is very important to Jane.  “I look for people who are willing to take risks, and move forward with conviction.”   

To lead a company, she shares some pragmatic observations:

·       It is easy to lead in good times.  But make sure you are at peace with your higher calling in life to survive the bad times.  Faith, family and enterprise are the three things that inspire Jane, in exactly that order.

·       When you get bad news, inculcate it for 24 hours.  Then, learn and move on.  No dwelling allowed.

·       Don’t “live in the gap.”  While there will always be someone to whom you can compare yourself, and some other levels of success to which you can aspire, don’t pay attention to any of that. Live for today, knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.  Choose joy.   

When it comes to women pursuing technology careers, Jane also offers some excellent advice:

1. The technology field is filled with men.  Don’t worry about that. Be yourself.

2. Never be defensive.

3. Always be professional.

4. Win on competence.

And, above all, practice fearlessness.

Jane is the Founder of AMI Strategies, a Telecom Expense Solution: http://amistrategies.com/

Jane mentions and recommends the following women in technology organizations throughout this episode:

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Diva Tech Talk - Women in Tech Podcast Launch

Take a listen to the launch of the Diva Tech Talk Podcast Series as this episode was recorded live from Demo Camp hosted by the Michigan Technology Network (MITN) held at the Michigan Historic Museum on December 18, 2014. At this event, Nicole Johnson Scheffler was able to announce this new adventure live on stage. She explains the concept of the Diva Tech Talk podcast that launched officially in 2015 and invited all the women at the event on stage to share a picture and make the first official tweet! 

The Diva Tech Talk group was co-founded by Nicole Johnson Scheffler (@tech_nicole), Amanda Lewan (@Amanda_Jenn), and Kathleen Norton-Schock (@katensch). They produce podcasts featuring stories of women making it happen in the technology field across all disciplines. The Divas publish podcasts where they speak with high profile women in technology to share their career journey, current roles, and advice to women in the field. As a National podcast, they also compile episodes from various technology events and conferences.

The Divas publish the podcast episodes with a complete blog write up on this website. We would also love for you to engage on social media with us as we focus on quality content around women in technology. 
Twitter: @divatechtalks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk

This episode begins with an interview with Alex Dethloff, the Michigan Technology Network (MITN) President. The Lansing MITN Chapter provides a Technology Community, Networking Events, and Educational opportunities. 
More information on MITN is available here: http://www.mitn.org/
During the event, there was a live demo for the attendees of Oculus Rift that is a game coming out of the Michigan State University (MSU) Games for Entertainment and Learning. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display that promises to transform gaming as we know it by putting the users "into" the experience. 

Brian Winn was interviewed and is a MSU Professor who lead this effort and you can check out their college programs here online at http://mi.msu.edu/
Additional information on the MSU Gaming Program Information can be found here: http://www.gel.msu.edu/
MSU also has a great summer camp for young women interested in Technology/Media: http://cas.msu.edu/miss-media-michigan/

Nicole also spoke time with Jeff Pompliano, MITN Vice President and Project Manager at Gravity Works, as he talks about his perspective of women in tech. 
Gravity Works: http://www.gravityworksdesign.com/

One of the crowd favorites of the night was poochie bowl. This dog bowl is designed for dogs with big ears, but has other innovations that has been incorporated into the design. They also shared their brick and mortar store that goes beyond products and into hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning for kids.
The poochie bowl is available here: http://www.poochiebowl.com/
Here is the link to the Physical Store in Lansing, MI: http://www.welovekidsndogs.com/

Many other applications and technologies were showcased on the main stage. Another popular app that was shared helped connect LGBT people within the community.
The People like Me (LGBT) App is available here: https://peoplelikemeapp.com

Thanks for all the great community support and that of our friends and family as we go on this journey for the good of women in technology everywhere!

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