NetApp Insight, the company’s annual customer conference, kicks off in about a week. My last post highlighted why you should pay attention to the company from a technology level. In the year since last year’s Insight, the company has released and acquired a number of solutions that should allow them to build off of their substantial legacy in storage as they move into the larger world of data.
But like any customer conference, there’s more to the event than just announcements. One of the most valuable aspects of Insight is the ability to create and sustain professional networks, building the relationships that can grow careers. There are also valuable breakout sessions. NetApp Insight 2018 promises over 100 such sessions, which can get attendees up to speed on more detailed products and features than a general session or keynote. Throw in the ability to get NetApp certifications, and there’s obviously a lot of benefit for attending.
All of these elements come together though in a special session panel that NetApp has put together. For the sixth straight year, NetApp will be hosting the Women in Technology session at the event.
Keynote speaker Kate Swanborg, SVP, Technology Communications and Strategic Alliances with DreamWorks, is the highlight panelist for this session. Ms. Swanborg has built a career in both entertainment and IT industries over the last 22 years. Both have typically been boys clubs. Plus, she was a Production Manager on Space Jam while working for Warner Brothers.
Her work experience perfectly mirrors what a lot of people in IT are dealing with right now. Moving to CGI and prioritizing the technology challenges around render farms and wholly different production pipelines can probably lend some lessons to anyone dealing with digital transformation. Her personal experience and perspective should come to the fore in the Women in Technology session.
The rest of the panel looks to be just as interesting and offer additional perspective for the session. Renee Young is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Deep Learning and Analytics at Nvidia. I’m interested to see what she’s learned from her experiences managing at both Nvidia and Cisco.
Of course, NetApp will also have a number of their own employees on the panel. SVP and CMO Jean English worked through the ranks at IBM over 15 years to become their VP of Global Marketing for IBM Cloud before coming over to NetApp. She’ll be joined by Mekka Williams, Senior Software Engineer, and Sheila Rohra, VP of Transformation and Chief of Staff. Overall it looks like there will be a wealth of perspective and useful experience for women and men.
I also really respect that CEO George Kurian is listed on the session as well. I’m not sure if he’ll be on the panel proper, or will simply introduce the discussion. Regardless, it lends the weight and influence of his position to the session, which is not something to take for granted.
This past year has seen increasing discussions on issues of gender. Unfortunately, more often than not, these discussions are spurred by scandal and abusive behavior. Not only are these kind of discussions important in 2018, it’s important that NetApp isn’t just starting these discussions now. Now into it’s sixth year, this Women in Technology session should hopefully have a lot to say.
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