Tara LeBlanc, executive vice president of DHS Growth and Solutions for Sev1Tech, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview regarding her career and experiences with Sev1Tech as well as the importance of diversity in the technology field and a look into the company’s first collaboration with Women in Technology (WIT) ahead of Friday’s Diversity In Golf Information Technology (DIG IT) Scramble.
“Once Sev1Tech became an executive-level sponsor with WIT, we collaborated to create the DIG IT Scramble with the idea that ability and potential are not limited to gender, and everyone should be given the opportunity to strive for success,” said LeBlanc.
“This is Sev1Tech’s first collaboration with Women in Technology (WIT) for a golf tournament. The ‘Diversity in Golf Information Technology’ Scramble, or DIG IT, came about after Sev1Tech’s CEO and founder, Bob Lohfeld, developed a passion for golf last year. He created a program for the company’s female employees called ‘Gals for Golf’ for those who wanted to participate. Historically, the sport has been dominated by men, and creating this program was a way to get women involved.
Once Sev1Tech became an executive-level sponsor with WIT, we collaborated to create the DIG IT Scramble with the idea that ability and potential are not limited to gender, and everyone should be given the opportunity to strive for success.
Since its inception in 2010, Bob has fostered a genuinely diverse and inclusive culture for all employees. Partnering with WIT to hold the first DIG IT tournament increases diversity on the golf course, and in the technology field.
We would like to thank the following individuals for their participation in the planning of the event:
- Bob Lohfeld, CEO
- Lisa Anderson, CHRO
- Denise Wilder, CFO
- David Clement, Vice President, Sev1Experience
- Angie Gabrielson, Senior Army C5ISR Business Development/Capture Manager
- Jenny Serin, Deputy Program Manager, HHS Application Hosting
- Amanda Sutton, Program Manager, HHS Application Hosting
- Abby Nejako, Marketing Specialist
- Emily Uminski, Employee Engagement Specialist
- Mary Ogles, Executive Assistant
- Katie Toth, Marketing Manager
- Reggie Kouba, President and Founder of RMK Productions
- Jessica Simpkins, Account Leader of RMK Productions
- Jennifer Colwell, Senior Manager of RMK Productions
ExecutiveBiz: Can you provide some background on the tournament’s message, the impact you’re hoping the DIG IT Scramble will have to encourage more women to pursue a career in technology and how it helps to build a community of people surrounding the important cause?
“There are many women that hold significant leadership roles in the technology field today. This tournament is an opportunity to bring various organizations together that are passionate about empowering women and having some fun on the golf course while supporting WIT’s mission of advancing women in technology from the classroom to the boardroom.
It’s important to note that one hundred percent of the proceeds from the DIG IT Scramble will be used to support WIT’s mission. Our hope is that the tournament creates an inclusive golf environment, where some really wonderful people, including industry partners and federal leaders, can connect, raise awareness and empower women to advance their technology careers.”
ExecutiveBiz: Who should attend tomorrow’s DIG-IT Scramble and what can they expect from the experience? What else can we do to bring more women into the tech field?
“In collaboration with WIT, we socialized the DIG-IT Scramble to industry and technology partners and colleagues who enjoy golf and cultivating new connections, as well as those showing their support for gender diversity in the technology sector.
Everyone can expect a fun day on the golf course, friendly competition, and a happy hour complete with live music and networking opportunities. Most importantly, they’ll walk away with a lot more information about how they can do their part to close the gender gap and help more women embrace technology.
At the end of the day, this is all about reaching those women and girls to bring the awareness that a career in technology is an option for them facilitating their ability to pursue their goals, meet role models and mentors to guide them in the right direction and provide more engagement and support to existing organizations like Girls in Technology and STEM for Her programs.
There are so many examples of amazing contributions by women in the technology field including Annie Easley, Ada Lovelace Day, Grace Hopper, Hedy Lamarr, Dr. Radia Perlman, Katherine Johnson… so many that demonstrate the possible and attainable.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has working at Sev1Tech advanced your career?
“I’ve been with Sev1Tech since the early days of the company. I believe that diversity has been a core biproduct of Bob’s leadership since the very beginning. He has the unique ability to focus on each person’s particular talents and potential. He makes a connection with each of us and does his best to foster, feed, and challenge all of us to improve and learn how to be the best at what we do.
Sev1Tech has advanced my career by presenting the opportunities, exposure, tools and challenges to grow, fail, learn and ultimately, lead others to do the same. From a diversity standpoint, this company is unlike any place that I’ve ever worked. With an inclusive culture and no ceiling, there’s an opportunity to take your career as far as your ambitions will lead it.
If you have the drive and willingness to put in the work to succeed for our customer’s missions, you can do that. Both women early in their careers as well as more experienced women serve in leadership roles within the organization. Nearly half of our executive leadership team are women, and over 20 percent of our overall workforce is comprised of women.
I think this is a great first step for someone to broaden WIT’s message throughout our industry. It starts with, ‘Come out and play some golf with us. Let’s get men and women out on the golf course for a fun day and open the doors for our industry partners to drive this message in our sector.’”
ExecutiveBiz: As a successful industry leader, what advice would you give to women pursuing a career in the technology field?
“First and foremost, the technology field moves quickly and is only getting faster. My advice is to explore where your passion lies. If you’re unsure of what that is, seek it out. Don’t be afraid to participate in events, find webinars, conferences and pursue more formal education. Seek out your own opportunities and find a good mentor.
Technology is a vast space. Your first goal should be narrowing down your focus to a specific area such as software development, cybersecurity, network/platform/cloud/ or storage engineering, data analytics, or whatever best aligns with your goals, dreams, strengths and interests.
Let your passion lead you, but make sure you keep a 50,000-foot view of the whole technology landscape to learn as much as you can about how everything in technology interoperates and depends upon each other.
Do not be afraid to ask questions, keep a positive attitude open to always learning and respecting, encouraging and recognizing those around you and apply a good work ethic that is demonstrated in your delivery.
Another element is the opportunity. I talked about the opportunities and that comes with being able to work with some really amazing people and learn from them. That fosters an environment of encouragement and that’s incredibly important for the female workforce.
It’s important across the board, but I think it has a special place when it comes to women in the workforce to be competitive with one another in a healthy way. Man or woman, we’re all in very different stages of our careers. The focus really should be on uplifting and helping each other accomplish our goals because we remember those who helped us grow, and hopefully, the next step is to always help others to do the same.”