Just Tech It: Recapping the 2019 Johnson Women in Technology (JWiT) Conference
In its sixth year, the Johnson Women in Technology (JWiT) Conference is the only student-run conference dedicated to creating a community of women MBAs, advocates, and tech leaders. JWiT’s committee members wrapped up another successful event in March with speakers and panels, networking, and a company fair. This year’s theme, Just Tech It, celebrated MBA women who have leveraged technology to make significant cross-industry impacts.
Over the years, the JWiT Conference has aimed to drive the national dialogue around advancing opportunities in technology for women—and each year is more successful than the last. The JWiT Conference serves as a forum for engagement, connection, and inspiration.
Here are some highlights from JWiT 2019:
Welcoming JWiT attendees
As guests arrived for the conference, they connected over breakfast and later heard from JWiT co-chairs Chandni Prasad and Rebecca Wolff, both in the Class of 2019.
Panel: How Women are Changing the Landscape
Speakers, from left to right, included:
- Pamela Dunaway, MBA ’13, partner, Marketing Science, TechCXO
- Jyoti Mishra, vice president of consumer analytics and data science, Global Commercial Services, American Express
- Vanessa Fiske, head of marketing, DVD.com A Netflix Company
- Karen Albright, MBA ’09, product manager, Octo Telematics
- Moderator: Michelle Duguid, MS ’06, PhD ’08 (ILR), associate professor of management and organizations, Johnson
You Fu, MBA ’20, JWiT company fair and panelists co-chair
“I was honored to participate in JWiT as the company fair and panelists co-chair. My biggest takeaway from gathering the panelists is that you should always be fearless to ask, and you will be amazed. We approached certain potential panelists via LinkedIn messages and cold emails, without high hopes of any replies, given how senior and how busy these amazing people are. But here we are, expanding from only one panel last year to three panels this year with 14 amazing panelists, each with impressive stories to tell. We are truly grateful that these panelists took the time and efforts to engage, connect and inspire young working professionals to silence their self-doubt, seek mentorship, and pursue their dreams.
Another great takeaway is the importance of having men as allies. JWiT is open to both women and men. We invited a male panelist to talk about how he empowered women in his organization. It was exciting to learn that the attendees felt more empowered walking away from JWiT, knowing there are dedicated advocates for them in the workplace and in their career development. Empowering women is never about women only, it’s also about men, who are the fathers, mentors, mangers, and teammates of women.”
>Panel: Innovation Across Industries
>Speakers, from left to right, included:
- Moderator: Michele Trolli, executive vice president and chief technology and operations officer, M&T Bank
- Christa Ancri, vice president of management and marketing, Dun & Bradstreet
- Mike Wisler, senior vice president and CIO, M&T Bank
- Yvonne Chou, MBA ’07, principal product manager (Technical, Alexa), Amazon
- Karen Sanders, senior director, Product Management, Cisco
>Sara Schmitt, MBA ’19, JWiT operations and logistics chair
>“I was excited to see a strong show of support from our male allies and lots of discussion around how men need to be part of the conversation about gender equity. It was encouraging to already witness a large number of men opting in to learning more about the challenges facing women in tech and asking how they can help.”
>Keynote conversation with Chia-Lin Simmons, MBA ’02
>Liz Arnold, associate director of tech, entrepreneurship, & venture capital for Johnson’s Career Management Center moderated a conversation with alumna Chia-Lin Simmons, MBA ’02, CEO & co-founder of LookyLoo.
>Design Thinking Workshop
>Presented by Cisco, Microsoft, and Mastercard, this hour-and-a-half-long session got attendees talking, thinking, and up on their feet. The workshop was led by Rinat Sherzer, co-founder of Of Course Global.
>Tania Ghosh, MBA ’20, JWiT webmaster
>“Being on the organizing committee of the Johnson Women in Tech Conference 2019 was a great way for me to get an inside view of how a group of talented, driven individuals can come together to produce a meaningful event. Almost like running a machine with many moving parts and intricate connections, it was a journey that required constant collaboration and trust.
>As the webmaster for the event, presenting a suitable interface that conveyed the underlying spirit of the conference was an important challenge. It was a delicate balance of publishing relevant information, showcasing visual creativity, and making the most of available web features. Along the way, some lessons were learned, relationships were built, and most importantly, good times were had!”
>Panel: Women in Entrepreneurship
>Speakers, from left to right, included:
- Selina Ang, MBA ’12, head of business development, Ox Verte
- Vana Koutsomitis ’09 (SHA), co-founder & marketing director, DatePlay & DEEP Dating Platform
- Sallie Jian, program manager, SAP.iO
- Olga Abrosimova, MBA ’17, M&A consultant, EY
Olga Slashcheva, MBA ’20, JWiT speakers chair
>“I knew I wanted to be involved with JWiT before I even applied to Johnson. Having a non-traditional background, I always felt lucky to have worked in the tech industry and loved the fast-paced environment. Most of my non-tech friends, a lot of them being women, told me how they don’t think they belong in tech without a traditional CS background even though they feel passionate about technology and wanted to learn more. This idea of women feeling like they do not belong in tech inspired me to do more to raise awareness and encourage more women to pursue careers in the tech industry.
>What surprised me the most about JWiT is how 14 complete strangers with a similar goal can come together to put together a conference in less than a year. Throughout the planning process, we learned our strengths and our limitations, we worked long hours to overcome obstacles, and became better friends! In the end, when everything came together in March, it was all worth it! I heard first-hand from members of the audience how inspired they were to continue to pursue careers in technology.”