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Thursday, July 23, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: Women In Technology group looks to bridge gap

By MaryBeth Matzek
Working with professionals in the IT industry, Michelle Schuler frequently heard about the lack of available employees and the need to get more girls interested in technology careers. She talked with her college roommate and marketing consultant, Kathy Fredrickson, and Women In Technology, or WIT, was born.

"We wanted to bring women together to talk and collaborate on these issues and I looked around and really didn't see any organizations out there that were doing what we wanted to do," says Schuler, business development manager at Excelion Partners in Appleton. "We're all about empowering women in the technology industry to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and human connections."

Schuler and Fredrickson, owner of iMark Consulting in Neenah, held two intro sessions to gather feedback and gauge interest and "the response was incredible. We had more than 160 women show up at our first event. Women came not only from the Fox Cities, but also Green Bay, West Bend, the Lakeshore," Schuler says.

WIT's main goals include providing a platform of connections, resources and opportunities for members; create a pipeline of women to fill leadership positions in the IT industry; influence leaders in government, education and IT; and encourage girls and young women to choose technology careers.

"We also want to show that as women advance in their careers that it contributes to everyone's prosperity," Schuler says. "It's all about addressing the talent gap out there."

In less than four months, about 170 women have joined WIT.

"Our members range from IT executives to mid-level and those just starting out as well as college students in our WIT on Campus program," Fredrickson says. "We focus a lot on self-branding and professional development."

Beyond professional development, members are also interested in getting younger girls interested in technology careers, Schuler says. She adds while most people may equate a career in IT with programming, that's not the case.

"There's such a breadth of careers available – project management, analyzing, quality assurance," Schuler says. "There's a huge range of interests there."

While meetings feature speakers on different topics – the September meeting focuses on leading through change -- there's also time for networking and women can also connect online.

"It's about getting the conversation started and bringing women together to share ideas that inspire change," Fredrickson says.

To learn more about WIT, click here. http://witwisconsin.com/

Managing healthcare change

Dr. John Toussaint, founder of Appleton's ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and a national expert on healthcare reform, is taking his message of how to change healthcare for the better directly to managers in his new book, "Management on the Mend: The Healthcare Executive Guide to System Transformation."

As CEO and president of ThedaCare in Appleton, he took the lessons he observed in lean manufacturing and created a process brining that same innovation to the healthcare industry. After his retirement from ThedaCare, Toussaint became a leading authority and speaker on lean healthcare.

Toussaint, who previously authored "On the Mend," wrote his latest book after observing and assessing organizations making the transition to lean healthcare practices. He says that the ones that were the most successful had senior managers who led by example. In "Management on the Mend," Toussaint outlines how to make lean transformations work and describes how to do it step by step through people in 11 organizations who are doing the work.

Angel network gets new leader

Bram Daelemans is the new director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, the link between the Wisconsin Technology Council and the investor community. WAN operates as an umbrella organization providing services and resources to the early stage investing and entrepreneurial communities.

Daelemans previously was with AquaMost, a Madison-based water treatment start-up, and also served for four years as associate director of Golden Angels Investors, a group of 100-plus active investors in tech-based companies.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.


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