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May 3, 2018
There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women, according to Taylor Swift, among others... but there's a special place in the Leading Lights awards program for those women who empower, support and inspire other women.
The four finalists that made our shortlist for WiC's Most Inspiring Woman in Comms certainly fit the bill of empowering, supporting and inspiring their fellow females, as well as the next generation. It was a fun, but tough, category to judge, as all our entrants were inspiring women, first and foremost just for being successful, talented, impressive women. To determine our shortlist of four, we homed in on the category description of someone "who has worked tirelessly and effectively to advance the cause of women and girls in the next-generation comms industry" in the past year.
These three WiC awards are part of the broader Leading Lights Awards program. Learn the names of the other WiC finalists and find out which companies were shortlisted in the other myriad categories by reading: Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists and Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists.
The winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, after Women in Comms' luncheon workshop on where "digital transformation meets diversity" and the evening before the doors open to the Big Communications Event.
Join Women in Comms for an afternoon of workshops and networking in Austin at the fifth annual Big Communications Event on May 14. Learn from and engage with industry thought leaders and women in tech. There's still time to register and the workshop is free!”
Now, on to the finalists…
Anne Chow, President – National Business, AT&T Business
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Anne Chow inspires us with the fact that she's risen through the ranks at AT&T to serve in a P&L role that oversees 12,000 employees, but also in the work that she does to support and empower other women in the industry. The fact that she is able to do both of these things at the same time makes her nothing short of superhuman.
Chow oversees customer experience, direct and indirect sales channels, call center support and DirecTV for business and is responsible for the carrier's more than 3 million business customers. She owns the P&L for the SMB market, worth $14 billion in revenues, and is the highest-ranking female executive in the AT&T Business organization.
Outside of her (much more than) 9-to-5 job, Chow pursues her passion of encouraging education, diversity and inclusion and developing leaders, starting at a young age. At AT&T, she created the AT&T Women of Business (AWB) internal networking organization with a focus on development and advancement for women into business leadership roles. AT&T has a lot of internal networks, but her AWB group has attracted more than 3,400 members since its launch last year. It has also hosted seven educational events that 12,000 employees participated in and launched worldwide mentoring and networking sessions. Chow is an admired and respected employee at AT&T and also one of the most popular on social media. She is also on the Girl Scouts' National Board of Directors and keynoted its national convention last year, encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers.
Suzie Gleeson, Vice President of Cloud Sales Strategy, Digital Realty
In the male-dominated data center world, Digital Realty Trust Inc. 's Suzie Gleeson stands out for being a female sales leader and 25-year veteran of the industry, but also for the work she does to bring more women into the space, both internally and for the industry at large. She recently founded Digital Realty's Women's Leadership Forum to provide collaboration and support for women in a collegiate environment, as well as co-founding Women's Tech Forum, an industry-wide group with others from the cloud infrastructure industry, including Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook. The group is designed to connect women for networking and mentorship and has already attracted 165 members.
Gleeson is no stranger to spearheading causes like this, as she was also active in the Equinix Women's Leadership Network when she was with the company prior to Digital Realty, and was the founding member of Level 3's Women's Networking Group in a role prior to that.
Zenita Henderson, Senior Director, Marketing Operations & Business Development, Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE)
Zenita Henderson has been with the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) , leading marketing and national conference activities for the standards organization, for two years, but her career started in customer service at General Instrument out of high school. She worked her way up in the industry, leaving her mark and building connections every step of the way. It's not just her work at SCTE that makes her inspiring, however. Henderson now, in turn, helps other women every step of the way, starting with young girls.
Henderson is on the board of directors of Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, a group dedicated to inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold. She's on the executive committee of One Day Immersion in TV, Cable & Digital Entertainment, a program that connects media leaders with high-potential college students and recent college graduates to discuss career paths in the cable industry. At the same time, Henderson also manages to fill the president role of the Philadelphia chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications.
Catherine Michel, CTO, Sigma Systems
Sigma Systems CTO Catherine Michel, impressive in her own right as one of the few female CTOs of a tech company and a startup founder (of Tribold in 2004), makes our finalist list because she is also an outspoken advocate for women in the industry and an active mentor. She is a frequent speaker at industry events promoting women in comms, including WiC's own in London last year.
Michel unapologetically promotes based on merit and encourages women to be their best. She leads by example, and mentors other women to not stand for any discrimination or bias against them in the workforce. She is someone who truly talks the talk and walks the walk, and could've just as easily been a finalist for Tech Pioneer of the Year for her work on digital transformations as well.
— Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms
Director, Women in Comms
Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.
She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.
As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.
Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.
Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.
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