LST Honoree Speaker Series: Judy Spitz, Part II

See the first part of this interview here!

Welcome back! This is the second part of Judy Spitz’s incredible interview with Seidenberg student Niamh Fitzsimon. The event is the first in a series featuring previous winners of our prestigious Leadership and Service in Technology (LST) award.

Tickets for the LST Awards in April are available now!

One of the topics that kept reoccurring during Niamh’s interview with Judy is something very close to our heart at the Seidenberg School: women in technology. Niamh herself is Vice President of the student organization Pace Women in Tech. She asked whether Judy found that being a woman ever played a part in how she worked with her teams.

“No, it never changed anything that I did, one way or the other. I will say that there’s all this data that shows that women feel like they need to meet 120% of the job requirements to apply for the job. Men are in the 50-60% range. Don’t look at job ads and say oh I can’t do that part I shouldn’t apply for it. Men look and say ‘oh, I can do most of those things’ and that’s plenty.

“Once, early in my career, I got called into the senior executive’s office and he said ‘I want to give you this job’. I said to him ‘I’m not sure that I’m qualified for that job’. He looked at me like I had three heads. I’m not sure he’d ever had anyone in that office he’d offered a promotion to who said no, thanks. The lesson is that if someone who knows you thinks you’re qualified for a job, you probably are.”

Judy went on to tell the audience to trust themselves more. “Your instincts are usually the right instincts.”

While on the topic of women in tech, Judy took some time to talk about how WiTNY came to be.

“The number of jobs in the technology industry has gone up but the number of women participating has gone down. During my time at Verizon, I became alarmed at the small amount of women coming up behind me. Who was going to be the next CIO? I got the WiTNY program going, a 5 year initiative to get more women studying STEM.”

The Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York, or WiTNY initiative, aims to significantly increase the participation of women in STEM fields in the New York market. Through strategic initiatives, WiTNY mainly works on enabling high school girls preparing for college to focus on STEM paths and secure rewarding and lucrative careers within the tech field.

As an institution with our own Women in Technology initiatives, like STEM Women Achieve Greatness (SWAG) and Pace Women in Tech, we think WiTNY is a wonderful, extremely valuable project.

Head to part 3 of Judy Spitz’s amazing interview here!

This was the first event in our three-event series, with the next taking place on March 22nd with Nicholas Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus (Ret.) IBM Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology, on our Westchester campus. The final event will be an interview with Austin A. Adams, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer (Ret.), JPMorgan Chase, at our NYC campus on April 19th.

The LST Honoree Speaker Series is part of a run up to our annual benefit, the Leadership and Service in Technology Awards. Tickets are available now!

Part 3

LST Honoree Speaker Series kicks off on International Women’s Day with Judy Spitz

Although it wasn’t planned, the fact that the first of our LST Honoree Speaker Series fell on International Women’s Day was serendipitous to say the least. The event was part of a run-up to the Leadership and Service in Technology (LST) Awards, an annual benefit for the Seidenberg School during which we celebrate outstanding individuals who best exemplify leadership and innovation in the tech field. This year’s award will be going to Suresh Kumar, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at BNY Mellon. Tickets can be purchased at various levels for this fantastic opportunity to attend the reception, network with industry professionals and alumni, and support the Seidenberg School.

Judy Spitz is the Founding Program Directory of the Initiative for Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York (WiTNY). She received the LST award in 2012, when she was the Senior Vice President and CIO at Verizon. On Wednesday March 8, a crowd of over 100 students, alums, and friends from the Pace community got to hear an incredible interview where Judy shared the wisdom she has collected over an eventful career.

The event was introduced by Seidenberg advisory board member, Helen Altshuler, a senior engineering leader at Google, who remarked that “progressing in technology and making strides is a common goal for women and for men. The more people we can bring into this conversation, the more we can progress as a community.”

Progress was a key theme of the event. As Seidenberg student Niamh Fitzsimon opened the interview by asking about Judy’s career and advice for success, it quickly became clear that being open to different paths of progress is crucial.

“Don’t be so tunnel visioned,” Judy cautioned. “While you’re en route to doing what you want to do, there will be opportunities that come onto your radar and the key is not to be too rigid about whether it meets your checklist; whether you think it’s the right move. It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder. This idea where you’re going to get the next job then the next and the next in a linear fashion – that’s not going to happen. In a jungle gym, there are lots of different ways to get to one place. If some paths opens to you, move in that direction. You might end up having to turn back, but you’ll have learned something along the way.”

Words many of our extremely driven, motivated students needed to hear. When you are so focused on following a strict career path to get to where you want to be, you could become blinded to opportunities that offer an alternative route to the end goal – or even ones that take you somewhere else entirely, somewhere that ends up better than your original plan.

Judy also outlined her 5 steps to success. Given the 8 step plan offered by Amtrak CIO Jason Molfetas during his Big Data Innovator talk last fall, perhaps the first and foremost step should be “Come up with a list of steps”!

Judy Spitz’s 5 Steps to Success

1. Be a great storyteller

“It doesn’t matter where you are in your career,” Judy said, “Whether you’re at the beginning and you need talk to the people you work for about what you are doing and why it matters, or you’re middle management and it’s about collaboration with your peers, or whether you’re in a leadership potion and you need to motivate the people you expect to follow along, you’ve got to be able to tell a great story.

“Storytelling has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You get better by thinking about it ahead of time, finding a hook; that hook is how people follow along. And rehearse your story. There has never been one time when I’ve had to stand up and give a presentation when I haven’t rehearsed it beforehand, out loud. Just standing there and reading what you think you want to say is a cognitive process. If you just practice in your room beforehand, I guarantee you will fumble it.”

2. Think non-linearly but execute in a linear fashion

“See both the forest and the trees: you have to be able to stand back and get the big picture so you can get an idea of what matters and what doesn’t,” Judy said. By seeing the big picture, you learn which smaller parts are the most important and can execute tasks in a way that makes sense on both the minute and grand levels.

“However, you also have to be the kind of person who can go down to the minute letter and actually do the work.”

3. Have passion

“Passion is what drives you to go to work when you have reasons not to.”

4. Be accountable

“Don’t ask yourself ‘did I do what I was supposed to do?‘, but ask whether the project did what it was supposed to do. If you just think about your own performance, you’ll never get promoted. Ask people what you can do to help them.”

5. Have humility

“It’s never about you.” As close as you can get to a project, sometimes the decision you want to make isn’t always the right one for the project. Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about the work.

Continue reading part 2 of Judy Spitz’s interview here!

This was the first event in our three-event series, with the next taking place on March 22nd with Nicholas Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus (Ret.) IBM Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology, on our Westchester campus. The final event will be an interview with Austin A. Adams, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer (Ret.), JPMorgan Chase, at our NYC campus on April 19th.

The LST Honoree Speaker Series is part of a run up to our annual benefit, the Leadership and Service in Technology Awards. Tickets are available now!

Part 2

Pace Women in Tech celebrates official club status in first meeting

The Pace Women in Tech club held its first meeting as an official Pace organization on Monday, February 6, 2017. Led by Seidenberg students Eiman Ahmed and Niamh Fitzsimon, the meeting was a brief introduction to the club and the plans for the upcoming semester.

Aimed to be a welcoming group where members can make new friends and build a peer network, Pace Women in Tech already has a lot planned for this year. Hackathons, internship workshops, and potential attendance to the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration conference in Orlando, Florida, were just some of the things on the table.

The group aims to meet every two weeks and new members are welcome to join them for discussions, workshops and the chance to meet guest speakers from the tech industry – all over free pizza, of course.

“We want to spread awareness for the underrepresented group of women in technology,” said Ava Posner (BS in IT ’18). “My goal is to bring Seidenberg students – especially women – together so they have a network of individuals they can share experiences with, ask questions, and make new friends.”

Pace Women in Tech has an active Facebook group that is recommended for members not only so they can stay up to date with meetings and events here at Seidenberg but for local hackathons and other events taking place outside Pace.

Students hop down to Texas for Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

img_20161020_134643October was a busy month at the Seidenberg School. Not only was it Cybersecurity Month, meaning we had plenty of events relating to all things privacy and security, but we were still recovering from the launch of the fantastic NYC Design Factory.

What better time to get away from it all by attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Houston, Texas?

The conference is a massive, annual event that usually takes place in a different location each year. Since its inception in 1994, the conference has grown from just a few hundred delegates to this year’s incredible collection of attendees – around 16,000! And some of those awesome women in attendance were Seidenberg students and staff.

d688e116-b58d-4dad-bcaf-89b51a87be8cAmongst the students were undergraduates Karishma Saini (BS Computer Science), Melanie Green (BS Information Technology), Gauri Kirve (BS Information Systems), and Ketaki Mulajkar (BS Computer Science), as well as graduate students Raisa Mukadam (MS Information Systems), Alexa Piccoli (MS Computer Science) and Beverly Gladden (MS Information Systems). They were joined by Seidenberg staffers Kim Brazaitis, Svetlana Kotlyarenko, and me!

Trying out Microsoft Hololens
Trying out Microsoft Hololens

To say the conference was absolutely massive is an understatement. The opening keynote took place in the enormous Toyota Center stadium where amazing speakers got the crowd hyped up for the next few days of networking, professional development workshops and sessions, and a serious amount of partying. Keynote topics included privacy and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cognitive computing, and were discussed by Latanya Sweeney, Ginni Rometty, Alyssia Jovellanos, and Anna Patterson.

Seidenberg School booth
Seidenberg School booth

After the keynote, the conference was in full swing. Day one consisted largely of everybody checking out the expo, where hundreds of organizations (including the Seidenberg School!) had set up booths to share information, network with others, and give out free swag.

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Melanie Greene with one of the awesome Google displays

Computer Science student Melanie Greene said: “It was uplifting to see the number of prestigious companies at the career expo – I really saw their commitment to embracing diversity in the industry, and it was touching. I got the chance to meet many enthusiastic employees from so many companies such as Google, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Facebook and to attend Google’s party that was out of this world. Have you ever created your own emoji and then seen it in the foam of your coffee? I have now. I am blown away by the advancements made in technology and I hope to be a part of them in the future.”

In the evenings, a wealth of social events took place with free food, fantastic networking opportunities, and inspirational speakers – including the aforementioned Google party that was, indeed, out of this world.

Google selfidriving car
Google had a self-driving car on display

Days two and three were packed with professional development and educational workshops and panels that our students were sure to make the most of during networking breaks. Some of our students were so impressive that they were offered interviews for jobs on the spot! We are extremely proud of our students’ talents and their abilities to share their expertise with people they have just met.

resized_20161019_181829The conference came to a close too soon and we were sad to leave the warm, humid temperatures of Houston to return to the tepid airs of New York… but it was an incredible experience.

Graduate student Alexa Piccoli said: “Attending Grace Hopper this year well exceeded my expectations . . . There are so many awesome things happening in the world of technology and it reassured me that being a women in the field is something I should be proud of and thankful for.

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Alexa Piccoli designs her personal emoji to be replicated in a latte

“From the keynote speakers to the breakout sessions, to the awesome Google party, I truly learned a lot and had fun. I learned how women have deeply influenced and paved the path in technology, how to get involved in capture the flag competitions, the advancements of blockchain, and how  you can do anything you set your mind to in this field. I would encourage students to go to this event next year and get involved in all that being a women in technology has to offer!”

Interested in attending the conference next year? Let us know!

Jean Coppola receives Women in Tech award (again!)

On October 20th, the Westchester County Association (WCA) will be recognizing five women for their extraordinary efforts in STEM fields as part of their third annual “Women in Tech” awards. One of these women happens to be our very own, Professor Jean Coppola!

The WCA started this event in 2014 in order to recognize women for their remarkable contributions and achievements while working in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM).

Professor Coppola will be recognized as an award-winning educator, author and professor of gerontechnology at Pace University.

“We are delighted at this recognition of Dr. Jean Coppola’s work,” said Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill. “Through her research into healthcare IT in general and gerontechnology specifically, Jean has made great contributions to the discipline and, through this work, has made vital contributions to the Westchester County community. Her work has enabled hundreds of Pace University students to become engaged with their neighbors in life saving ways and we all benefit from this work.”

Coppola has won numerous national awards for her extensive research and work with the effects of technology on the quality of life for older adults, including attitudes towards aging and cognitive functioning.

We can’t wait for Professor Coppola to receive this award on October 20th. Want to see it happen? You can attend!

Congratulations Professor Coppola!

SWAG Showcase presents incredible women in technology

SWAG3

On Saturday, December 12, 2015, a large crowd descended on Pace University’s Pleasantville campus for Pace University’s STEM Showcase Day, an event that celebrated Pace’s Women in Technology initiative and the success of its STEM Workshop for high school female students. Appropriately called SWAG, “STEM Women Achieve Greatness,” this Workshop offered a rigorous hands-on approach to design and problem solving using engineering and programming tools to create water robots.   The SWAG Workshop was an incredible opportunity made possible through the generosity of GE Capital, whom Pace is proud to have as a partner in our efforts in advancing girls and women in STEM.

Over the course of the Fall semester, 30 high school girls visited Pace on Saturdays to learn how to build and program (using Arduino) a SeaPerch Water Robot capable of taking temperature readings underwater.

Working diligently during these Saturday sessions, and under the guidance of Seidenberg School faculty and staff, the 30 young women made incredible accomplishments that could go a long way in kickstarting their education and careers in STEM. SWAG4

The showcase began with an introduction by Seidenberg’s Interim Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill, and followed by welcoming remarks by GE Capital’s CIO, Julie Stansbury. . Attending guests – including many proud parents – viewed video highlights of the journey and successes of the SWAG participants over the past semester (watch it now). Then it was onto SWAG group presentations! Each team of girls got on stage and talked about their experience building a fully functioning underwater robot, discussing their triumphs and disappointments both, and it was clear that the workshops had been a rewarding experience that incorporated new friendship connections into the STEM education. Afterwards, Pace students demonstrated the continuation of hands-on learning in a college environment through group presentations of STEM-based projects, which is part of Pace’s Capstone program.

SWAG2The festivities continued with a panel discussion featuring female technology leaders and executives in the technology sector. The panel was moderated by VIP and CIO of Pace University Clare van den Blink, and was comprised of Ursuline Foley, CIO Corp. & Enterprise Enablement at XL Catlin; Margaret Honey, President & CEO of the New York Hall of Science; Nasrin Rezai, CIO at GE Capital; and Judy Spitz, CIO at Verizon. The panelists spoke of their experiences and shared profound wisdom sure to be beneficial to the talented high schoolers in the room.

SWAG1To close out the celebration, Dean Hill welcomed Seidenberg School founder, Dr. Susan Merritt, to the stage. Susan presented each of the girls with a medal for successfully completing the STEM Women Achieve Greatness workshop series here at Pace University.

A big thank you to all of the Pace faculty and staff who made this event possible: Ms. Andreea Cotoranu, Dr. Pauline Mosley, Dr. Matt Ganis, visiting Instructor Ms. Dawn Tucker, Dr. Nancy Hale, Dr. David Sachs, Dr. Susan Feather-Gannon, Dr. Li-Chiou Chen, Dr. Jean Coppola, Dr. Mary Courtney, Deth Sao, Elizabeth Foster, Nancy Treuer, and Susan Downey. A Special Thanks to Mary Ann Errante from Special Events and Lenny Craig from Buildings and Grounds.

We would like to heartily congratulate each of the 30 girls and sincerely hope we see you again when it’s time for you to attend college!