SHARE Virtual Preview: Women in IT Talk Inclusivity and Mainframe Innovation

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An important announcement regarding the SHARE Virtual 2020 event: Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, the SHARE Virtual 2020 event will resume September 22-24 and September 29-October 1. This article was published prior to the event rescheduling and session/speaker information has been subject to change. For more information, please visit the SHARE Virtual FAQ page.

SHARE looks forward to hosting three panel discussions dedicated to informing, inspiring, and empowering female professionals in Enterprise IT on Monday, September 21. To learn more and register, visit the Women in IT webinar page.

SHARE has moved to a fully virtual platform (Pathable) for its summer event, and attendees will be able to enjoy the experience from the convenience of their home, office, or any location (as long as there is an internet connection). As the SHARE community embraces this new format, the virtual event’s Women in IT track is heating up with several panels, including one on defining the new mainframe agenda and another on mentorship and innovation (both rescheduled for Sept. 21, 2020). For each session, talented women will bring their perspectives to the table for conversations that invite the wider mainframe audience. We spoke briefly with Lisa Wood, chief marketing officer at VirtualZ, about the panels and what attendees can expect, especially as the mainframe takes on new roles.

Referencing the “Visionary Women Leaders: Defining the New Mainframe Agenda” session, Wood explains, “The current environment demands more from mainframes and mainframe teams as we adjust globally to unprecedented changes.” She adds that the mainframe continues to play a critical role every day, 24 hours a day in an increased capacity in grocery, home improvement, financial and banking services, government claims, and other services. “Some challenges ahead — which lead to innovation — are to continue to open the mainframe to modern processes and tools while preserving the security, reliability, power, and availability of the platform; implement cost modernization strategies with chief information officers committing to investing in the platform; and, dramatically increase diversity on the platform to broaden the talent pool at every level,” says Wood.

The session will also highlight some talented female mainframe experts, including Priya Doty, vice president of product marketing for IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE brands, Lisa Dyer, global vice president for project management at Ensono,Tendü Yogurtcu, PhD, chief technology officer at Precisely, and Lauren Valenti, head of customer advocacy and mainframe education at Broadcom. “We see women driving some of these changes in two ways: innovative women at the technical level — both those earlier in their careers and [those who are] more established — are working to identify market and customer needs, design and code architecture, and impact the design and functionality of the mainframe, including hardware and software,” says Wood. “The second way we see women responsible for these changes and directions occurs at the executive/managerial level. Women are directing the product roadmaps and investments in the platform as key players in the decisions that will set the mainframe apart for years to come.”

Wood says the “A New Innovation: A Fresh Look at Mainframe Inclusion, Mentorship, and Innovation” session will explore how companies can use the “horsepower of the creative minds in the mainframe industry, coupled with design thinking, to bring creativity and problem solving to the spectrum of needs in the industry (beyond products and services) like the skills gap, diversity, inclusion, and mentorship. The panelists — including IBM Design Lead and Design Thinking Leader and Researcher Tyler King, IBM’s Digital Inclusion Advocate and Chief Penguin for the Hyper Protect Accelerator Melissa Sassi, The Mousai Group President and CEO Dr. Gloria Chance, Katie Branch, manager for Mainframe Systems Training and Development at Ensono, and Deb Carbo, director of product management and strategy and executive sponsor of the Mainframe Vitality Program at Broadcom — will look at opportunities to create stronger, more diverse mainframe teams through the lens of innovation methods like design thinking and change-management models.

Design thinking, according to the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (, is an iterative and creative process providing a human-centered approach to problem solving. Wood says, “It’s not just exclusively for designers or engineers; all great innovators across multiple disciples such as literature, art, music, science, business, government, and the public sector use its unique formula to bring best-in-class ideas forward. Stereotypically thought of for product design and innovation, design thinking is just as empowering in creating social change as well.”

Wood explains that the session will have an emphasis on actionable ideas, including how to use empathy as a starting point for creating new diversity, inclusion, and skills gap successes. Attendees can expect to learn how everyone in an organization can influence the outcome of efforts toward broadening diversity, inclusion, and mentorship, and how rapid prototyping can be a great tool for inclusion and mentorship programs. She adds that the panel also will cover two techniques from change management that can be used to define the problems organizations are looking to solve.

At SHARE Virtual, women will take center stage in demonstrating how the mainframe continues to innovate and adapt to changing needs across several disciplines. Women will also help attendees explore new ways of tackling diversity and inclusion needs in the workplace. Digging deep to solve problems or meet company needs is a hallmark of those working in the mainframe. These panels are sure to have everyone thinking more broadly about their workplaces and how they can take action to be more inclusive and diverse and to ensure the mainframe industry continues to build its leadership in innovation.

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