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CloudNOW’s Award Event Celebrated Women’s Innovations

9 Dec 2016 9:47am, by

Over 250 people gathered Wednesday on the Google Campus in Mountain View, California to celebrate 12 projects representing a wide range of use of cloud technology and hours of hard work.

CloudNOW, a non-profit highlighting women’s contributions to the cloud, chose the projects out of 100 submitted for its fifth annual Top 10 Women in Cloud Innovation’ Awards.

Winner Tara Hernandez of Linden Labs

Tara Hernandez of Linden Labs

Those celebrated for their hard work included:

  •  Tara Hernandez, director of systems and build engineering at Linden Lab, for using the cloud to support virtual reality in next generation Second Life Project Sansar.
  • Monique Morrow, chief technology officer for New Frontiers Engineering within Cisco, for pioneering a wearable device containing identity documents for refugees via digital footprint, “Internet of Humanized Things.”
  • Rupal Patel, CEO and founder of VocaliD, for allowing a new voice using a two-second snippet of a vocalization, allowing people previously without a voice to sound more like themselves and less like a 40-year-old-woman cough Siri cough.
  • Mary Stenzel-Poore, senior associate dean for research, for the Oregon Health and Sciences University, for using cloud structure to assist in cancer ID and targeted treatment options.

Several of the projects involved automation of cloud deployment, continuous delivery, horrifically painful VMWare upgrades, and moving from outdated software to include microservices in a cloud environment. The full list of winners can be found here.

Innovation is Earned

The common themes across all projects were collaboration either internally across project teams or between different businesses, changing team structures, and, of course, open source. And big dreams.

Mai-Lan Tomsen-Bukovek giving her keynote address

Mai-Lan Tomsen-Bukovek giving her keynote address

It starts with dreams, said Julie Hanna, executive chair of the board for Kiva.org, in her keynote speech. These women have dared to dream. And that’s how the world is changed. “One dream can change a thousand realities. It’s the only thing that ever has.”

Mai-Lan Tomsen Bukovec‪, vice president and general manager for Amazon Web Services’ Simple Storage Service (S3), assured the attendees — which included a wide variety of students and women in tech — that innovation is learned.

Innovation is not a talent, she said. It is a skill and requires practice. In order to get good at it, you have to fail. Innovation requires some element of failure, she said. “Experimentation is crucial to innovation. If you’re not failing, you’re not thinking big enough,” she assured the crowd. “Either that or your deluding yourself.”

Winner Shaheeda Nizar from GoDaddy presenting in front of Judges (L-R) Jean Atelsek, Becky Wanta and Julien Barbier

Winner Shaheeda Nizar from GoDaddy presenting in front of Judges (L-R) Jean Atelsek, Becky Wanta and Julien Barbier

The winners were given four minutes to pitch their project to judges and the attendees to vie for a top winner (which was rewarded bragging rights only). Judging the projects were Jean Atelsek, an analyst for 451 Research; Becky Wanta, an executive vice president at Pacific Compensation Insurance Company, and formerly CIO of MGM resorts; and Julien Barbier co-founder and CEO of Holberton School.

Winning the judges award was a tie between Erica Brescia, COO Bitnami for automating cloud deployment, and Rupal Patel, CEO and founder of VocaliD.

Hanna summed up the awards. “I stand on the shoulders of the women who came before me,” she said, “and I’m constantly asking myself, ‘how can I grow shoulders big enough for others to stand on?’”

Feature image: Erica Brescia. All photos by T.C. Currie.


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