98 episodes

We are on a journey to share insights into leadership, innovation and breaking down the big issues women face in a tech-savvy world. We interview women leaders all around the world from CIOs and Founders, to creators and nonprofit executives, covering generations of innovation. Everyone with whom we've crossed paths has a story of success that we share with our listeners. Don’t get tangled along the way in your journey; listen in and learn from dynamic divas who share everything from balancing life duties, to negotiating, forging their way in their fast-changing industry, to (most of all) finding themselves. Podcast currently hosted by Nicole Johnson Scheffler, Kathleen Norton-Schock, and Amanda Lewan. Follow along with us here at www.divatechtalk.com.

Diva Tech Talk Podcast Hosted by a Collaboration of Professional Women in Technology

    • Technology

We are on a journey to share insights into leadership, innovation and breaking down the big issues women face in a tech-savvy world. We interview women leaders all around the world from CIOs and Founders, to creators and nonprofit executives, covering generations of innovation. Everyone with whom we've crossed paths has a story of success that we share with our listeners. Don’t get tangled along the way in your journey; listen in and learn from dynamic divas who share everything from balancing life duties, to negotiating, forging their way in their fast-changing industry, to (most of all) finding themselves. Podcast currently hosted by Nicole Johnson Scheffler, Kathleen Norton-Schock, and Amanda Lewan. Follow along with us here at www.divatechtalk.com.

    Ep 97: Dr. Nicki Washington: Armor Up, Every Day

    Ep 97: Dr. Nicki Washington: Armor Up, Every Day

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Dr. Nicki Washington,  author, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Winthrop University, founder at Washington Consulting LLC and passionate advocate for women of color, in technology. Winthrop University featured her work.
    “I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina,” site of world-class universities and home to Research Triangle Park. Her mother was a 32-year IBM programmer, and father was a K through 12 educator and administrator. “I was surrounded by black men and women who were educators, engineers, college professors, business leaders, attorneys, doctors and more: a network doing inspiring things in science and math.” Her mother purchased a new computer every few years and Dr. Washington assembled each one.  Her mother “introduced me to programming opportunities,” Pascal and Basic, then more advanced languages.  At Johnson C. Smith University, Dr. Washington’s path changed when an influential professor convinced her to concentrate on computer science. Dr. Dorothy Cawser Yancy, University President, nominated her for the David and Lucille Packard fellowship, a $100,000 5-year grant for students to pursue STEM doctorates, including annual week-long symposiums, with professional workshops and “honest safe spaces” for sharing.  Dr. Washington graduated as undergraduate valedictorian and won the award. “My trajectory changed from there.” 
    Dr. Washington became “a black woman in a program where only one other person looked like me” pursuing masters/doctoral degrees at North Carolina State University.  “I suffered from ‘impostor syndrome;’ and would lean on my community,” since her campus was 20 minutes from her childhood home. She often had to “armor up” every day and was fortunate to gain an empathetic advisor, Dr. Harry Perros, with whom she had “real talks” about struggles as a black woman in a post-graduate computer science program.  She won another fellowship in her graduate school: NASA’s Harriet G. Jenkins award, giving monetary support and other unique experiences tailored to graduates from historically black colleges/universities.
    Dr. Washington shared advice for programmers, technologists, application developers.  “When you reach a roadblock, take a break and step away. Sometimes you are so engrossed, you cannot see high levels.” She decried students’ misconceptions that they must “know everything” and advised “be unafraid to ask for help.”  When faced with bias, she said: “It is not you. You are not the first. You will not be the last. Take up space without losing yourself in the process. Maintain a level of self-care.” Dr. Washington’s message is “until there is a major shift in the narrative, we are going to see major challenges. Find the tribe who can get you through.”  
    Dr. Washington is now doing appreciable research in cultural competence in computing citing insufficiencies on the university level.  Approximately 85% of university computing faculty are Caucasian or Asian, not serving as full role models.  “We lose students in the middle ground, between K through 12 and careers.” She noted that while undergraduate curriculum emphasizes technology skills, it does not emphasize cultural competence. “We see, every day, technology announcements that are biased,” as a result. She cited self-driving car and healthcare database applications as two examples where “people developing them are not recognizing biases.” Dr. Washington proposes a long-overdue revolution: required assessment for cultural competence in computing. “I am trying to force a conversation around cultural competence for all computer science students before graduation,” beginning with a required 3-credit course called Race, Gender, Class and Computing.  Her aspiration is a country-wide movement on computin

    • 47 min
    Ep 96: Sunitha Vinnakota: Don’t Give Away The Remote Control for Your Life

    Ep 96: Sunitha Vinnakota: Don’t Give Away The Remote Control for Your Life

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Sunitha Vinnakota,  tech/IT security leader for General Motors Company, a trailblazer in automotive solutions for almost a century.  Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, global GM employs over 180,000 people; serves customers on 6 continents across 23 time zones in 70 languages; and focuses on pushing the limits of automotive engineering, while maintaining stewardship of the world’s environmental resources. Currently #10 on the Fortune 500 list, GM is the largest U.S. automotive manufacturer, and is led by Mary Barra, the first female CEO of a major automotive company.  Sunitha brought 25-plus years of evolving technology skills, intellectual curiosity coupled with drive, and broad business acumen.  
    Sunitha was always interested in technology, encouraged by her mechanical engineer father who urged her to “look at the science all around you.” One of two siblings, growing up near Hyderabad, India, she was fascinated by the logic underlying every invention, tool, process, in her life. All her close male relatives were engineers.  Sunitha said, “from childhood, I wanted to do something different from everyone else.” That fascination led her to concentrate on math, physics and computer science. She completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science and master’s degree in computer applications at Osmania University.  During university days, Sunitha instructed high school students in math and physics.  She moved to teaching Unix at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science; and was offered a professorship at Osmania.  However, Sunitha turned down university life in favor of working on the development of SAT and ACT tests, for 11th/12th graders, at Indotronix International.
    Following her 2000 marriage, Sunitha migrated to Michigan.  During that first year, she worked part-time, teaching Java and C# programming, on the weekends.  After receiving her H1B visa, she became a Java consultant and developer at Chrysler Corporation, now FCA Group Intl.  She then moved to GM as a consultant and systems analyst, deployed by TAC Automotive Group.  After the birth of her first daughter, Sunitha took a leave of absence.  Then she chose Ford Motor Company, the fifth largest automotive company in the world, where she was a systems analyst and then a business analyst over the next six years. In 2013, Sunitha moved back to General Motors full-time, as a senior business analyst in vehicle ordering and management systems. She mastered that before moving over to learn ecommerce, in-depth. “It was completely new. We were developing an e-commerce application.” After that achievement, she became a “quality evangelist” maintaining the integrity of IT applications in global sales and marketing working with 1100 people across the globe.  Then, in 2018, she began to work on cybersecurity for GM, worldwide. She now leads security compliance for 230-plus applications, globally. One of Sunitha’s mantras is that everyone must “stay abreast of the latest technologies today” since data is rapidly exploding. Her job encompasses the breadth of GM technology from the “C suite to application owners to the grassroots” and focuses on ensuring that “GM customers know their information is safe with us.” 
    Sunitha characterized her major strengths as intellectual curiosity, ambition, learning agility, and passion.  “Whatever I do, I dive in deep,” she said.  She wants her stakeholders to say: “I have given this job to Sunitha.  It gets done. I can sleep!” Sunitha was honored by a 2019 IT All Stars Women of Color Award for her work in improving GM application quality by 49% in less than 8 months, achieving 95% in standard compliance in record time.
    Sunitha’s method of tackling subtle sexism in work situations has always been to “double down.” She increased her skill se

    • 33 min
    Ep 95: Linda Rose: Raise Your Personal Ceiling

    Ep 95: Linda Rose: Raise Your Personal Ceiling

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Linda Rose, merger and acquisitions advisor at RoseBiz Inc., and author of GET ACQUIRED FOR MILLIONS ---  offering wisdom and a practical roadmap to business owners interested in divestiture.  Linda has owned four companies and has served hundreds of others. 
    In 7th grade, Linda knew she wanted to become a CPA, after visiting with family friends in that field, who had an idyllic lifestyle. Fortunately, her PSAT’s pinpointed strong math proficiency. She graduated with a bachelors and a master’s in accountancy from San Diego State University and spent four years at Arthur Andersen “working on very esoteric tax applications and issues.”  Since her future husband was in the running for a partnership, and there were strict firm policies on fraternization, “I left and went to work for a customer of the firm.”  Then, many life circumstances converged simultaneously. Linda got pregnant; laid off; and became a Southern California homeowner, an expensive proposition. “I found myself implementing an accounting package for a company that needed assistance. That’s what got me into tech!”  Once in the technology field, “I never looked back. I didn’t aspire to have my own business, but I did like what I was doing.” She recruited others as independent contractors, and after several years incorporated. “I really liked the work, and the flexibility it gave me as a mom. And I hired a lot of other moms.”  Then, Linda got “the growth bug,” and began hiring other experts. Her clients spurred her to diversify into staffing, and data center hosting. “For ten years, I had three companies at three separate locations. That forced me to hire very capable people, to delegate, to not have the businesses centered around me.” Linda’s epiphany was “I loved the flexibility and the control that having my own company afforded me.”  Beginning in her 40’s, Linda took five years to self-reflect, analyze markets/trends, make hard decisions, and architect a plan. She sold her staffing company;  then the others, including her final 2017 divestiture of RoseASP, a Microsoft channel partner and MS dynamics hosting company, “which I sold for millions.”
    “I was at a crossroads.”  Inspired by the self-discovery odyssey in WILD, Linda trekked 40 miles around Mount Hood and then took a 6-week 500 mile hike of the Pacific Crest trail. She concluded “I had this knowledge of selling three companies and buying another company. And I wanted to put that knowledge into the book.” Linda took 18 months to write her book, aimed toward an underserved niche:  smaller companies, in technology channels, “written from the owner’s viewpoint. It’s a book that prepares you for the process” of selling your business. 
    Linda shared some wisdom for women in leadership roles.  Her advice included:
    Take control of your finances early.  “Find a mentor or mentors you can depend on, who really care about you.”   Build your “home team.”  This is whomever you can rely on to help with all aspects of life:  nannies, transporters, personal chefs, errand-doers and more.   Create your personal brand. Linda’s own “brand” is centered on “always about being fair, ethical, and servicing my customer --- doing what’s right for the customer and doing what’s right for the employee.  It’s important to decide what you stand for.” One of her recent insights is that “each of us has our own ‘glass ceiling’ “and most of the time, it is lower in our minds than it should be, when viewed objectively. “So, it is important we break through our own limiting beliefs first” before tackling big challenges. During her 500-mile trek, Linda said: “I raised my own personal glass ceiling.” She faced bears, rocky trails, boulders, and other frightening challenges. She overcame the

    • 39 min
    Ep 94: Jeanine Heck: No Day but Today

    Ep 94: Jeanine Heck: No Day but Today

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Jeanine Heck, Vice President, AI at Comcast, the world’s second largest broadcasting and cable television company; the U.S. largest pay television, cable TV and home internet service provider; and third largest home telephone supplier in the U.S. 
    As a child, Jeanine sometimes felt like “the lone soldier” as a female “mathlete,” consistently drawn to numbers, and science. “I loved things that had to do with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Engineering popped up” as she chose a college major. “I loved programming.”  As an undergraduate, she felt fortunate to graduate with her BSE from the University of Pennsylvania, which also housed  Wharton. “I got a really good, well-rounded perspective on both tech and business.”
    Post-graduation Jeanine spent six years at Gemini Systems (now EssexTec), serving the New York Stock Exchange, first as a programmer.  Then “my main responsibilities, over time, shifted. I raised my hand pretty often to become one of the people who decided what we were building: a business analyst role.” One watershed project was a Java-based visual tool/system that helped monitor and regulate the behavior of individual NYSE traders. “I liked all the technical challenges.  But I didn’t have a passion for the financial markets,” Jeanine admitted. With a “career switcher mindset,” Jeanine entered Columbia University to get her MBA, and “discovered that I missed technology.”  She landed two internships, first at Google in advertising sales and then at NBC, where she worked on an online Web video player. “In both jobs, I was not on the software team, but craving to be.”  The good news was “I found an industry that I loved: the digital media industry.”
    Jeanine honed in on getting a role at Comcast. “It was more of a humble culture, which stood out in the media industry” and a great opportunity for her to return to Philadelphia.  Her first role was as a product manager for TV Planner, “the first time we brought together all content in one place.” With 1.5 million unique users, “when you have that kind of scale, you see amazing trends, patterns and data insights.”  Jeanine became impassioned about data discovery and “I have built a career, on that, since then. “ One of the key products that Jeanine managed is Comcast’s Voice Remote,  “the most loved” of Comcast products “synonymous with our brand.”
    Shifting into team leadership, directing 70 employees, has been “a little bit bittersweet for me,” Jeanine admitted.  But she has enjoyed mentoring team members, sharing her experience, leading and learning from “the brilliant people” on her teams. Jeanine’s immediate Comcast goals include “developing products that people become attached to” like the successful Voice Remote. She is on a quest to find “the next big product that will take us to the next level of love from our customers.” She has tasked her team to discover “brilliant products” to bring to market. The biggest impact that Jeanine sees in AI developments has been in productivity, and quality. “It (AI) helps you do things more efficiently.”
    Jeanine’s success-oriented qualities are optimism, collaborative inclination and urgency married to agility: “One of my philosophies is ‘no day but today.’  If we have an idea, I am constantly thinking about how we get that out to customers, sooner.” Jeanine has spent introspection on the essential role of women in business. Personally, she has inculcated wisdom from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and concentrated on being taken seriously as an executive. She has also stayed open to feedback in her evolution, going so far as to assess her vocal presence and presentation skills to achieve “gravitas” as a leader. Jeanine has also become a devotee of Brene Br

    • 35 min
    Ep 93: Liz Armbruester: Reframe Your Possibilities

    Ep 93: Liz Armbruester: Reframe Your Possibilities

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Liz Armbruester, SVP, Global Compliance, at Avalara, which helps businesses get tax compliance right. Avalara partners with ERP providers, accounting, e-commerce and financial systems companies, to deliver cloud-based tax compliance solutions, for all transactions. Headquartered in Seattle, WA, Avalara was founded in 2004; went public in 2018; and has offices across the world 
    From her early years, Liz was a multitasker. “I thrive on doing more than one thing at a time.” Her early aptitudes were in science, and math.  From Villanova University, she transferred to the  University of Arizona. Originally planning to be a doctor, Liz graduated with a major in molecular/cellular biology. It was during this formative college period that she learned “how impactful my instinct was and to listen and trust it.”  This was a life-long lesson Liz applied many times, even with her own son, who made a similar decision in 2019 to transfer universities in pursuit of his dreams.
    Liz decided against medical school but “easily got jobs in the medical field.” Working with physicians,  she “kept finding my way to the front office. Application software was coming to the fore.” Liz grasped an “opportunity to do something different.” She migrated to semiconductor provider, Zilog where she spent  eight years. Then Liz moved to Vubiquity, a content distribution tech company, owned by tech media giant Amdocs.  Vubiquity connects content owners to video providers, so that entertainment can be delivered to consumers on any screen.  At both Zilog and Vubiquity, Liz wore multiple hats; worked on innovative projects; and often operated in between highly technical development teams and customers “as a translator” of requirements.
    Liz left Vubiquity, six years later, as Vice President of Operations, and Procurement, because she found herself “not showing up for dinner...which was not ok.”  Moving from Vubiquity to Avalara, Liz made it clear that balance was key. Yet she committed to “operate, and scale like hell” to empower Avalara’s aggressive evolution.  Liz accepted the challenge, to again “be the translator” between the vision, the partners who build/deliver solutions, and “an infinite number of customers.” Avalara teams, “are just brilliant and bring together all of the pieces; and cohesively work together” as the company’s client base has expanded. “Our finish line changes all the time,” Liz explained, because taxing authorities’ rules are ever-changing. 
    Liz believes that transition to collaborative teamwork leadership is particularly hard for talented STEM experts.  Often, she noted “one day, I am a ‘fixer’ and the next day, I have to be a ‘facilitator,’ and that transformation can be kind of tough. You can’t do it, all.  You have to let go; let others.” Key to that is teaching, mentoring and inspiring colleagues and teammates. Avalara is also highly committed to a positive “intentional culture” including diversity in its ranks.  Liz praised Amelia Ransom, the company’s Senior Director of Engagement and Diversity, “who has really raised the bar for us.” Working on  D/I initiatives has been eye-opening and allowed Liz to empower diversity transition, including all of Avalara leadership “locking arms. It isn’t a project; it doesn’t have a beginning and an end and has shifted our perspective. I have seen hiring practices change,” said Liz.  “I have seen the transparency with which we talk about bias radically change.”
    Liz would encourage anyone, at any career stage, to continuously “take a step back and look at the bigger picture” as it relates to “what you do, what you like to do, and what you're passionate about” in a disciplined fashion. “What are the things about what you do that make you successful?” K

    • 48 min
    Ep 92: Liz Siver: Winning Through Networking

    Ep 92: Liz Siver: Winning Through Networking

    Diva Tech Talk interviewed Liz Siver, former Microsoft executive for the U.S. Central Region, now General Manager for NeoPollard Interactive, a breakthrough company, leading  transformation of state lottery systems online. 
    Liz credited her “network: the people I knew and encountered” for introducing her to technology. She attended the  University of Dayton, graduating with a degree in English. “I kept it simple. It was hard to identify all opportunities, so I took a generic path.”  Liz worked her way through college. Among other assignments, she worked for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio; government of Montgomery County in Ohio; Berry Yellow Pages; and the university in a fund-raising role.  Post-graduation, Liz entered fund development, at Hospice of Michigan, largest state provider of care to those facing end-of-life challenges. “Whether it was grant-writing, special event planning or working with donors, it was an array of interesting experiences.”   After 5 years, “my network came to me,” alerting her to an opportunity as an event manager for the launch of The Somerset Collection in Southeast Michigan.  She worked for Forbes Properties managing that massive development and hired The Disney Company to implement the mall launch. 
    Through more networking Liz moved to her next challenge, as a marketing manager at Deloitte, a global professional services organization, providing audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services to companies, worldwide. “I spent the majority of my time on the audit side of the house, driving business development,” she said. After 3 years at Deloitte, “my network came to me again,” Liz said.  A PR firm worked with both Deloitte and Microsoft and connected Liz to one of the largest technology companies, of the 21st century. Two decades ago, “Microsoft had 23,000 employees, and now the company has 170,000 employees,” marveled Liz. “I went from learning technology to embracing and selling what the potential of technology could be. Fun times!”  
    Liz’s Microsoft tenure spanned 18 years, and 11 different roles. “The theme was learning, developing; and always be networking, keeping your eye out on the next potential opportunity to learn and grow.” She spent a lot of time on the road and jumped at any chance to lead teams or projects with diverse teams, as many as 100 people.  She also spearheaded the development of the Central Region’s Microsoft Women’s Leadership organization.  Liz “had the privilege” of spending time with (then-CEO) Steve Ballmer, “who always had a passion” for Detroit, and Southeast Michigan. “He was a visionary.  That vision became really broad.” 
    Liz loved and learned from tenure at Microsoft.  But, when she considered transitioning, “we had sold all states on ‘the cloud’. At my age, and career point, I thought ‘I have more to give. ‘What I wanted to do was to learn something new. And if I had the privilege of trying to transform an industry, wouldn’t that be exciting?!”  In a year of self-discovery, Liz said “the opportunity presented itself to run a joint venture.” She assumed the management of NeoPollard Interactive, with a parent company in Tel Aviv and Michigan-based HQ in Lansing.  NeoPollard is 50% owned by Israel-based NeoGames and a Winnipeg, Canada company in the lottery industry for decades.  “They have gaming legacy and deep relationships, globally, in the lottery industry.”  The company, “born online” and currently employing 82, works with state lotteries to move into the cloud; and “then provides services to be successful.”  In current mobile device-dominant environments, NeoPollard is trying to “help state lotteries build an additional opportunity for people to play the lottery” outside of traditional “cash and carry retail environmen

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

JenniferY. ,

great podcast on women in tech

Love the Diva Tech Talk podcast that is working to support the growing movement of emerging female leaders/engineers in the tech field.

I love that there was one episode featuring a female engineering student from my former coding school, Hackbright.

Although the title of the podcast is "Diva Tech Talk", I find that these inspiring stories and valuable information can be applicable among males and females and across industries like business as well.

I am looking forward to future episodes, and seeing what awesome conent is published next.

dstafford ,

You don’t even need to be in tech to enjoy

... this show is for all men and women interested in leadership... and tech. The hosts and guests are inspiring.

No nickname presented ,

Absolutely inspiring

An amazing way to open up the world of technology to more and more women. Highly recommend!

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