Seidenberg Innovation Awards honors the top tech innovators of today, supports tech innovators of tomorrow

On April 24, 209, the Seidenberg Innovation Awards took place at Pace University’s New York City campus. The event was a celebration of innovation in the tech community and a chance for friends and supporters of the School to get together and share the Seidenberg love.

The evening consisted of a cocktail reception where guests mingled over drinks and appetizers, followed by the awards presentations in Pace University’s beautiful Schimmel Theater. After the awards, dessert and coffee was served in the lobby while guests discussed the event.

An amazing number of our young alumni returned to Pace to celebrate – we love you guys too!

Alumni of recent years and some from a little further back turned out in force – the reception lounge was packed and it was fantastic seeing so many familiar faces returning to Pace University to support their alma mater. Many of these students also benefited from scholarships and support provided by our community and took the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation.

Plenty of Seidenberg School faculty and staff were also present, and Pace President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones made the most of some excellent photo ops with current and past students.

Peter Fleischut: “the role that Pace University is playing in training the workforce of the future is critical”

Special guest Peter Fleischut gave a few remarks, saying that “the role that Pace University is playing in training the workforce of the future is critical.”

After an hour and a half of socializing and catching up (we had to start early – guests couldn’t wait to come in!), it was time for the main event, the awards portion! This was the first year the Seidenberg School had tried out this format: previously known as the Leadership and Service in Technology (LST) Awards, former iterations of the event honored a single individual for their contributions to the field. This time, in homage to the Seidenberg School’s 35th anniversary, we updated the event title and went a tad more Hollywood with our delivery. We had three honorees this time, all of whom have had significant impact and who we couldn’t wait to recognize, and we also had the glamor of the Schimmel Theater, which lent itself perfectly to the nature of the event.

Dean Jonathan Hill took to the stage first to give his welcoming remarks and kick off the evening. He introduced President Krislov, who spoke about his experiences with the Seidenberg School.

“One of the things that I’ve always noticed when I walk the halls of Seidenberg is that there’s just this sense of support and care . . . and that’s before I even get to the hugging point!” President Krislov remarked, referring to the stickers placed around Seidenberg that reflect our Design Factory way of thinking. “It’s just really extraordinary and I can’t imagine there are too many schools like that,” he said, adding to Dean Hill, “We owe a lot to you and your leadership.”

President Krislov shows off one of the now infamous Dean Hill buttons during his speech at SIA

Following President Krislov, Dean Hill returned to the stage to talk about what was special about the Seidenberg School. “We are unique because we are high tech and high touch,” he said. “Our students learn from their faculty and from each other in small classes of 24 rather than massive lectures of 200 . . . we are special because we teach technology as a team sport and as a global enterprise: as a student here, your lab partner is as likely to be in Sao Paulo or Helsinki or Singapore as to be in the seat next to you. However, that person in the seat next to you will be your friend and resource for life.”

He continued: “Our students have been called smart, ambitious, scrappy, entrepreneurial and highly motivated to succeed. They come from every economic, racial and geographic background and they are 29 per cent female – and growing. Some of them come from prep school backgrounds some from the most underserved of public high schools, but all of them are here to fulfil their potential. They are the technology work force of 2025, the management layer of 2030 and the founders and C-level executives of 2040.”

Dean Hill then introduced one such student, Allan Krasner, a junior computer science student who became the President of Pace Computing Society in his freshman year and who now runs Seidenberg Creative Labs as Product Manager.

“Coming from a robotics background, I knew that I had an interest in computer science,” Allan told the audience. “So when it came time to search for colleges, it was a fairly simple choice. Pace was one of the few universities in the nation to have a whole school dedicated to computer science.”

Student speaker Allan Krasner shares his story and what made it possible

Allan went on to recount his remarkable experience as a Seidenberg student, detailing what made it all possible: “I’m here at Pace because of donors like you . . . your support has empowered me to achieve the goals I set for myself when I came to Pace, and I can confidently say that this is an education that I would not be able to get at any other school.”

He concluded: “I’m just one of the many students here at Pace, each of whom is accomplishing something special and changing the world in their own way. My story nor that of my friends and colleagues . . . would not be possible without help from the amazing Pace staff, Pace faculty, and most importantly supporters and alumni like yourselves.”

It was time for the awards.

Our honorees for the 2019 Seidenberg Innovation Awards: Daniel Barchi accepted an award on behalf of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Lesley Ma, Hank Hyatt, joined by Peter Fleischut

First up was Lesley Ma, the Global Chief Information Officer at Cadillac, who was presented with the Innovative Leadership award. This wasn’t Lesley’s first time at Seidenberg – she was one of our esteemed speakers at our Tech Leadership Series where she shared tips and advice with our students. On this evening, Lesley brought with her one of Cadillac’s virtual reality experiences, which was set up right outside the SIA reception space! Guests got to explore Cadillac vehicles in the virtual space and take them for a test drive (so to speak).

Thank you Lesley and Cadillac for all you have done for the Seidenberg School!

The second award was for Innovation in Fintech, and our honoree was Hank Hyatt, the Co-Chief Information Officer MS&Co. Global Head Fixed Income & Equity Electronic Trading IT at Morgan Stanley. As a Pace alum, Hank was already connected to what makes this University so special, and it was wonderful to have him back on campus to meet with the smart and ambitious students that his leadership has an impact on. Hank also coordinated additional sponsorship from consulting company MThree, which was fantastic. Thank you Hank!

Finally, we were delighted to honor NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital with the Innovation in Healthcare IT award. CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Daniel Barchi, was there to accept the award and share some of the exciting things that are taking place at one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the world. Like Lesley, this was not Daniel’s first time talking tech with the Seidenberg School: he was also on campus for the Tech Leadership Series and we also recently published an interview with him regarding NewYork-Presbyterian’s mission to revolutionize the healthcare IT industry.

Some of our students and alumni enjoying the evening with President Krislov
Dean Hill with a literal Seidenberg family – the Posner sisters: alumna Ava and current student Laina

Check out our Instagram story covering the event here!

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Seidenberg celebrates at the 22nd annual Leadership & Service in Technology award reception

Now in its 22nd year, the Leadership & Service in Technology (LST) award is bigger and better than ever, and this year’s celebration was an unforgettable evening.

On Monday, April 24, 2017, an impressive company of Seidenberg supporters came together as we honored Senior Executive Vice President and CIO at BNY Mellon Suresh Kumar for his pioneering leadership and innovative thinking in transforming finance and technology practices throughout his exceptional career.

Marie Wieck, Sara Chipps, Niamh Fitzsimon, and Lucille Mayer, our speakers for tonight and incredible women in technology
A major theme of the evening was women in technology as evidenced by our amazing speakers

BNY Mellon kindly provided the space and the catering for the LST awards at its downtown location. Guests enjoyed appetizers and a full bar during the networking hour before the main event. The room was packed with many of our dearest friends, including Seidenberg alumni, business partners, and friends from the Pace community. It was a warm atmosphere as people greeted old friends they hadn’t seen in a while, made new ones, and shared a fun evening and business cards alike. Seidenberg students were also present to give demonstrations of their projects facilitated by the NYC Design Factory.

Niamh Fitzsimon accepts certificate from Jonathan Hill
Niamh Fitzsimon and Jonathan Hill

When awards time came, guests were seated and Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, introduced the first speaker of the night – our student, Niamh Fitzsimon. Niamh is an honors student, vice president of Pace Women in Tech, and resident Googler (she’s interned there twice so far and will do again this summer!).

“Because of you, I have been able to push myself above and beyond what I could imagine,” Niamh said. “You provided me a platform to grow my confidence, network, and skills, and I am extremely grateful for your contributions towards the education of myself and my peers. I am highly honored to share the effect of your donations on my community.”

Following Niamh’s remarks, Lucille Mayer, the Chief Information Officer of Client Experience Delivery at BNY Mellon took to the stage to introduce the keynote speaker. Lucille has worked with the evening’s honoree Suresh Kumar for over 25 years. “Suresh is not only a visionary, as you’ll hear for yourself, but he is also a leader in championing and developing talent,” she said.

Lucille Mayer discusses success in the tech industry
Lucille Mayer on success in the tech industry

Lucille briefly discussed success in the tech industry, including the top tech trends for the year such as augmented reality, which has seen a swift increase in recent years due to the creation of virtual reality headsets and the release of mobile app games like Pokemon Go.

“Success depends upon the user or the client experience of the technology,” she said. “Technology is no longer about being the guy or the woman behind the curtain . . . technology is the business.”

She then introduced the evening’s keynote, Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain. Marie discussed the exponential growth of data and the benefits of diversity.

“Some of the stats in tech right now are quite frankly astonishing,” Marie said. “Think about data. In the last two years we have created more data than we have created as a species in the time period prior.”

She added: “Those people who can mine insights of out that data are the people who are going to accelerate their business.” Data analytics is certainly a burgeoning industry right now as companies scramble to make sense of the immense volume of data that is now collected through websites, social media, and other digital interactions.

Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain
Marie Wieck – more women on boards mean better results

Marie also spoke towards greater diversity in the workplace, particularly regarding more women in technology. “What constitutes the best performance you can get?” she asked. “New perspectives that help you see things in a different way and that is fuel for innovation.

“It’s not those who have the highest IQ but those who have the biggest EQ [emotional quotient] . . . and what brings higher EQ? More women.

“When you have three or more women on a board, you begin to get financial results.”

Marie noted that 36% of the Seidenberg School’s student base are women compared to a 20% national average – a statistic we are proud of and are committed to improve.

“You have to teach people the art of the possible . . . 74% of girls are interested in STEM, but only a third of them pursue it,” Marie said. Many of the girls who pursue STEM had mentors, teachers, counselors who pushed them.

“When you think about gender partnership, role models don’t have to be people you know. We also have to advocate for the people you don’t know.”

Marie finished with an inspirational request. “We know Pace is a trailblazer. We know BNY Mellon is a trailblazer . . . mentor a student. Share the opportunity to highlight someone who is doing something exceptional. Give people a voice. Share the wealth.”

Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell
Sara Chipps and Matthew Knell

After Marie’s keynote, alumni and Seidenberg Advisory Board member, Matthew Knell, introduced the Emerging NYC Innovator Awardee, Sara Chipps. Sara is the CEO of Jewelbots, which produces programmable friendship bracelets that can connect with other bracelets in the surrounding area, enabling wearers to send each other secret messages using code. The bracelets are aimed toward middle-school girls to encourage them to get into STEM education.

As Jonathan Hill remarked after her presentation, “Technology isn’t about selling for top dollar; it’s about giving back in some way.”

Dr. Hill then introduced the honoree of this year’s LST award.

Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar
Jonathan Hill presents the Leadership and Service in Technology award to Suresh Kumar

Suresh Kumar is the Senior Executive Vice President and CIO for BNY Mellon, where he is leading the Client Technology Solutions organization to become the industry leader in delivering innovative solutions that enable clients and employees to succeed.

Suresh gave a wonderful presentation with excellent advice for our students and the community overall. His exemplary leadership style was apparent as he spoke: “I’m really privileged every day to work with an amazing group of colleagues all over the world,” he said.

Suresh Kumar
Suresh Kumar

“We all come from different places, different backgrounds, but each of us rely on education to get where we are. And the Pace Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems has long leveled the playing field . . . regardless of gender, ethnic background, and income.”

The LST award honoree went on to talk about how companies should embrace innovation and disruption for great results. Using Amazon as an example of a company that constantly innovates its techniques, offerings, and practices, Suresh warned against remaining stagnant, particularly when your competition does not.

He also had four ‘rules to live by’ (or at least conduct business by).

1 – Focus on execution. Being the best is better than being first

Innovation is important, but means nothing if you have a bad product. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it was the best when it was released. Doing a phenomenal job is 1% innovation, 99% perspiration.

2 – Evolve your business model

It’s important to keep up with (and create) what people want. Suresh described a period of four phases of how business models have evolved and have to evolve to stay ahead: the arrival of the internet in the mid-90s, the social media revolution in the mid-2000s, collaborative spaces (now) and autonomous working (emerging). Successful business models were platform-based and enabled consumers and providers to get together and create something valuable

3 – Reduce latency between end users and developers

Skype had 27 engineers. What’s App had 33. Instagram had 13. What made them create such a powerful product in such a short period of time? Constant innovation, and enough people on the team!

4 – Organize innovation efforts by service

Unfortunately, the IT department in many companies is still not considered to be the backbone of operations. That said, an emerging model of IT looks promising – teams are small, self-governing, and are empowered to make decisions and make a difference in a large company. When given the freedom to innovate, IT teams can change the whole way an organization works for the better.

Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis
Students Niamh Fitzsimon and Ava Posner with advisors Matt Brown and Kim Brazaitis

We are truly delighted to honor Suresh Kumar and his wonderful work as a leader in technology and in his work with staff at BNY Mellon.

Thank you to Suresh Kumar and BNY Mellon for your contributions to the Seidenberg School and for hosting this year’s LST Award reception, ensuring it was a fantastic night for all.

“The gifts you have provided tonight are much needed,” Jonathan Hill told guests in his closing remarks. “Thank you.”

Students were at the event presenting their projects
Students were at the event presenting their projects

Our deepest gratitude also goes out to everybody who attended the event and showed their support to the School, whether by buying tickets or donating. Thank you to Lucille Mayer, Marie Wieck, Matthew Knell, and Sarah Chipps. Thanks also go to Deth Sao, our director of development, for her unending commitment to organizing an incredibly successful event.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!