WiC Leading Lights Finalists 2017: Hedy Lamarr Award for Female Tech Pioneer of the Year

This year's finalist list includes female founders, CEOs and women deeply entrenched in the technologies that are defining the future of communications.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

April 24, 2017

6 Min Read
WiC Leading Lights Finalists 2017: Hedy Lamarr Award for Female Tech Pioneer of the Year

It's called the next-gen comms industry because technologists today are always looking at the advanced, often virtualized, technologies defining the future of networks and promising to transform how we live, work and play.

This year's finalist list for the "Hedy Lamarr Award for Female Tech Pioneer of the Year" includes female founders, CEOs and women deeply entrenched in many of the technologies that are defining the industry today and the networks of tomorrow. (See WiC Leading Lights: Meet the 2017 Finalists .)

This award seeks to recognize "a woman in the next-gen comms industry for her remarkable influence and technological contributions to the sector in the past year," and it's named after our girl Lamarr, who co-invented the spread spectrum technology in the 1950s that serves as the backbone of digital communications today. (See Hall of Fame 2016: The Candidates.)

Women in Comms' biggest event of 2017 is coming up on Monday, May 15, ahead of the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas. Register here to join us for a networking luncheon with top-notch keynoters and panel discussions!

The winners will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner on Monday, May 15, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, following Women in Comms' one-day conference and preceding the Big Communications Event.

Jennifer Kyriakakis, Founder & Vice President, Marketing, Matrixx Software
The well-funded startup that Jennifer Kyriakakis co-founded in 2008 and is now vice president of marketing for, Matrixx Software Inc. , is right at the heart of where wireless operators want to be: providing digital services, not being circumvented by over-the-top players. In the past year, Kyriakakis spearheaded the launch of Go Digital, a platform that lets operators quickly -- in a matter of months -- launch cloud-based digital services. The service, which is in use at operators like Smart Communications Inc. and several Hutchinson Group properties, lets operators offer new products and services on the fly via their self-care apps or online. Kyriakakis has been instrumental in getting the service off the ground and, importantly, helping operators keep up in a digital world.

Mary O'Neill, Head, Security Product Unit, Nokia
Mary O'Neill has broken the mold by being both the CEO of a cybersecurity company, Nakina Systems, and a member of the Board of Directors, positions not often held by women. But, she makes the shortlist this year for her new role as head of the Security Product Unit at Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), a position she took last April when Nokia acquired Nakina. Integrating companies, and their different cultures, is never an easy task, but O'Neill made it a seamless process and retained 100% of key Nakina employees. Now she is responsible for setting a new direction and strategy for Nokia's entire network security portfolio, growing its customer base and leading her team of security experts into uncharted territories with autonomous driving, smart cities and the Internet of Things.

Nithya Ramanathan, President & Co-Founder, Nexleaf Analytics
Nithya Ramanathan is motivated by a desire to bring together technology and social justice and a belief that data, in the right hands, can be extremely powerful. That's what led her to co-found Nexleaf Analytics, a non-profit that builds, scales and supports wireless sensors and data analytics tools to improve public health and the environment. She founded the company in 2011, received a $300,000 in funding as winners of the Vodafone Americas Wireless Innovation Project in 2013 and has continued to make huge strides in the last year alone. Nexleaf is in the process of outfitting close to 15,000 health facilities across India with a sensor network to protect vaccines for preventable diseases like measles and polio by monitoring vaccine fridges remotely. The technology she developed, ColdTrace, automatically sends SMS alerts to nurses when vaccines are in danger because of fridge malfunctions. ColdTrace is now in eight countries, protecting critical vaccines for more than 6 million babies born every year. Notably, Nexleaf caught the eye of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) this year. Along with vaccine delivery company Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google announced a $4 million partnership with Nexleaf to develop IoT and analytics tools to strengthen the vaccine cold chain systems in 65 countries.

Sarit Tager, Vice President, R&D SDN, LSO & APPs, ECI Telecom
As the vice president of R&D SDN, LSO and APPs at ECI Telecom Ltd. , Sarit Tager is the driving force behind ECI's work on multi-layer optimization in SDN. She was hand-picked for the job because of her "her ambitious nature, talent for exploring new possibilities and a strong ability to think out of the box." She was also tasked with the important -- and challenging -- job of getting carriers to work together through standards, open source, changing mindsets and new technology. Tager developed the first ECI demonstration of SDN built on Open Daylight and led ECI in its first major contribution to the ONOS community. Her work on the OpenLSO Innovation Platform was adopted by the MEF as its primary platform for future development, meaning we'll see a lot more from Tager in the months and years to come too.

Nicola Wolfram, CEO, tyntec
Nicola Wolfman took the helm of tyntec as CEO last July after serving as COO for three years. She has since been busy accelerating tyntec's growth and bringing innovations to the market faster. In her ten months on the job, she has already introduced multiple new products, formed new partnerships with telecom operators and enterprise customers, and made tyntec a US inter-carrier by acquiring Iris Wireless's assets. With Wolfram in charge, tyntec is now poised to redefine global and enterprise cloud communications just as it did for SMS messages in the early 2000s. She has also been a strong advocate for women in comms and boasts an employee base that spans 35 nations.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

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About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

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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