The #empowHERaccess Inaugural Awards celebrates the achievements of 8 winners who facilitated economic access and recovery for women affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recognizes the contributions to the cloud ecosystems made by both individuals and organizations. The awards are supported by corporate and private brands such as M12, IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Boeing, Insight and others.Seattle, Washington– According to McKinsey, centering women around economic recovery efforts would grow the global GDP by an estimated $13 trillion, or 16 percent, by 2030 — because when women thrive, so do their families and communities. A report from Kaspersky published in January found that roughly half of the 6,500 women surveyed believed that the pandemic had hurt them professionally.

The #empowHERaccess digital advocacy campaign seeks to raise awareness about the magnified impact of COVID-19 on women, promote stories of women’s professional resilience, especially in technology entrepreneurship, and accelerate economic recovery.

The #empowHERaccess Inaugural Awards celebrates the achievements of 8 winners who facilitated economic access and recovery for women affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recognizes the contributions to the cloud ecosystems made by both individuals and organizations. The awards are supported by corporate and private brands such as M12, IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Boeing, Insight, Consulate of Canada and Meylah. Over 100 applications were submitted and 26 were chosen as finalists for 8 awards.

Winners were announced in a virtual awards ceremony on July 16, 2021 at the #WICxInspire 2021 event, hosted by TEDx speaker and entrepreneur Patti Dobrowolski, along with board advisor and M12 executive Catherine Mulachy.

Commendations for transformative industry achievements to increase access for women included the IBM Supplier of the Year Award, Accenture: Innovative Partnership of the Year Award, Microsoft Digital Transformation of the Year Award, M12: Outstanding Leadership Award and Insight Cloud Solution of the Year Award and Meylah Cloud Deal of the Year Award. Women in Cloud also honored two impactful community partners with the Advisor of the Year Award and Investor of the Year Award. The #empowHERaccess Award Ceremony, which took place on July 16th at the #WICxInspire event, awarded eight leaders who facilitated economic access and stable recovery to women in tech.

#empowHERaccess Inaugural Award Winners 2021: 

Accenture: Innovative Partnership of The Year AwardMicrosoft: Digital Transformation of the Year AwardM12: Outstanding Leadership AwardInsight: Cloud Solution Of the Year Award
Sonya Shorey, Invest Ottawa | Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and CommunicationsKathy Durfee, TechHouse | CEO & FounderSara Menker, Gro Intelligence | CEO & FounderSheffie Robinson, Shamrck Education | CEO & Founder
WiC: Advisor of the Year AwardMeylah: Cloud Deal of The Year AwardIBM: Supplier of the Year AwardWiC: Investor of the Year Award
Lisa Opoku, Goldman Sachs | Partner, Chief Operating Officer of EngineeringKaren Fassio, Microsoft | Director, WW Partner MarketingChristine Puccio, F5 | VP, Global Cloud AlliancesSharon Vosmek, Astia | CEO

“The winners of the #empowHERaccess Awards understand that the roadmap to generating infinite economic access is driven by sustainable collective action. Our winners are thought leaders, innovators, and champions of change, and we are proud to be able to celebrate their achievements and work through these awards,” said Chaitra Vedullapalli, CEO and Co-Founder of Women in Cloud.

The #empowerHERaccess Awards will return in 2022, with nominations set to open in January 2022. To learn more about the award winners, please visit the winner page at https://www.womenincloud.com/empowheraccess-inaugural-award-categories/

About the #empowHERaccess Digital Campaign:

#empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. Launched in 2020, the campaign has reached over 600,000 women all around the world. The 2021 #empowHERaccess campaign is bringing together a number of facets to better understand the global crisis this pandemic has created for women entrepreneurs, and celebrate the many stories of pivots and perseverance.

The #empowHERaccess Inaugural Awards recognize the contributions to the cloud ecosystems made by both individuals and organizations, supported by corporate brands such as M12, IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Insight and Meylah.

For more information, visit: https://www.womenincloud.com/empowheraccess-campaign/

Women in Cloud and TIE Seattle are excited to announce the #CloudInnovateHER Pitch Challenge finalists. Special congratulations to our 6 finalists that will be pitching their solutions on Thursday, July 15th as they compete for the chance to win $5,000 in cash and credits and become eligible to win $100K at the TIE Global Pitch Challenge. The experience is sponsored by iCertis and Ally.

WICxInspire 2021: Announcing the finalists for the #cloudinnovateherxdigital pitch challenge

Advocat AI – Advocat AI is a platform for enterprise business users and in-house attorneys. It provides conversational intake, legal research and AI-enhanced drafting, because Advocat believes that Legal should help business get done..

Oneva – Onēva Concierge Care is a technology platform, offered as an Employer Provided Benefit. It connects employees at global employers to FBI background-checked caregivers offering in-home: Infant, Child and Elder care, Housekeeping, Pet Care, and Massage. Designed to meet enterprise grade security and GDPR standards, it’s available for deployment domestically and in the EU so no employee is forced to choose between work and family

Smart Foods Caribbean Limited Crop Mate is a smart farming device which offers timely, accurate and easily accessible information directly from plants and the soil to help farmers plan for rain, conserve water, and reduce crop loss.

Locelle Digital Inc – helps companies attract, develop and retain top female talent through tailored mentorship using technology.

rThreat is a breach and attack emulation platform that challenges your cyber defenses using real world and custom threats in a secure environment.

SaaSMAX Corp builds robust intelligent solutions that enable sales teams and marketers in the B2B tech sector to optimize their indirect sales channels.

The #CloudInnovateHER Pitch Challenge which was designed to help women tech entrepreneurs across global markets develop, showcase and win enterprise customers. This competition was designed to provide economic access and industry visibility to women tech entrepreneurs while also giving them an opportunity to present technologies that create a sustainable impact in today’s world.

Secure your spot with a complimentary ticket to watch the pitch challenge.

To learn more about the pitch challenge, visit the landing page.

Women in Cloud is proud to announce that we have been recognized as the Best Women-Led Businesses Accelerator in Seattle by Benzinga Magazine. The “10 Best Accelerators in Seattle, Ranked” article highlights 10 local accelerators with different niches which  provide access to training, funding, mentorship, and scaling for startups in a variety of industries. These accelerators were named the best because of their involvement in the local community, transparency, and implementation of practical standards. Women in Cloud was named top 7 overall and the best for female entrepreneurs because of its emphasis on using cloud hyperscalers, distribution channels, and partner resources to help women co-build, co-market, and co-sell to businesses. Checkout the “10 Best Accelerators in Seattle, Ranked” in Benzinga Magazine. 

Women in Cloud Cohort 6.0 will kickoff in August 2021. If you are interested, please signup today.

Drum Roll! What a fantastic recognition of contributions made by Women In Cloud Entrepreneur’s.

‘1$ Billion in Economic Access by 2030’; that is the audacious goal Women in Cloud is in pursuit of. With the Women in Cloud Accelerator, $80 Million has already been generated towards that goal which aims to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator has had an immense impact in the technology industry. Over the last three years, we have had five cohorts, with over 55 entrepreneurs who have contributed to building an inclusive economy.  Women In Cloud’s Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is an immersive 6-month program to assist women-led tech companies to co-build, co-market, and co-sell with Microsoft and their distribution channels. This program is designed to help you win enterprise opportunities, get access to Azure credits, an advisor community, and a global stage to showcase your business.

The Insight Success Magazine has recognized the Women in Cloud Accelerator and the entrepreneurs who graduated from the Accelerator and went ahead to make an impact in society. The “Top 10 Most Successful Women in Cloud Entrepreneurs” Edition honors 10 women entrepreneurs from the technology industry who are shaping the future of the industry with their unique solutions.

Checkout the Top 10 Most Successful Women in Cloud Entrepreneurs 2021 featured on Insight Success magazine.


Women In Cloud Entrepreneurs in Cloud Computing Market.

We at Women in Cloud are excited to share this news and are proud to announce the following Top 10 Most Successful Women in Cloud Entrepreneurs; 

A seasoned entrepreneur who has founded four successful companies in the Home Improvement and Retail industry, and is a pioneer of leveraging technology to optimize business processes and strategies to accelerate growth. Kristen is a leader within the women in the technology community, as a board member for The Beyond Project, and advisor to Women In Cloud.

Cathy Light is a serial entrepreneur and organizational consultant who has helped countless global corporate clients achieve business results by transforming workplace culture and building teams that thrive. Her most recent venture, Liderança Group, introduced a unique, metrics-driven roadmap for driving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, helping leaders identify opportunities for improvement, elevate conversations around diversity and inspire change.

With over 28+ years of worldwide IT, telecommunications, food and agricultural, and supply chain experience. From setting up production lines across the world for telecommunications to sourcing ingredients from the Americas to Asian countries. Traveling while delivering projects beneficial for the supplier and customers in over 4 continents, Martha dealt with both small and industrial size stakeholders or suppliers, government entities, and sophisticated buyers.

Allie’s passion for talent management has spanned her twenty-year career. Although her career started with nationwide companies, Allie’s recent focus is helping small business owners master their talent management. She has experience in all things human resources related for companies from one employee to 80,000 employees. Allie is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) with CPHR Alberta and a Registered Professional Recruiter (RPR) with the Institute of Professional Management.

Gail Mercer-MacKay is the proud founder and Chief Storyteller at Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling, an organization focused on creating amazing content and closed-loop marketing campaigns for technology firms. With double-digit growth year-over-year, the Mercer-MacKay client list includes many of the world’s leading technology organizations.

A renowned expert in her field, Geneviève Desautels, MBA, CRHA, MCC worked for 16 years in human resources in SMEs and large private and public companies. In 2010, she left Hydro-Québec to start her own professional practice which would focus mainly on the development of authentic and conscious leadership skills and abilities.

Kiyeon Nam is an award-winning inventor, fashion designer, and the Chief Executive Officer of B’ZT® (Beacon Zone Technology) and S’HUG (Sweater Hug).  B’ZT is the world’s first Smart Clothing pre-embedded with a machine washable smart chipset, which is created to prevent vulnerable individuals from going missing.

Nehal Mehta is an artist, mathematician, statistician, tech engineer, and cyber solutions inventor helping the world realize digital transformation dream through her efforts in cybersecurity, social and cultural involvement, and giving back to the community through her leadership efforts. She works with SMBs and Enterprises, helps them upgrade their cyber readiness, and provides usable security solutions through her user-centric cybersecurity research and innovations.

Donna Conroy, MS is an accomplished founder and CEO with extensive scientific experience including clinical microbiology and pharmaceutical sales and marketing. While in the corporate environment, she launched three drugs into the marketplace with great success. Throughout her career, Donna has focused on two passions: translating complicated science to understandable and usable insights and building work environments that support women - especially working mothers, a mission close to her heart.

Sarah Haggard is a proven business leader who has led multiple start-up initiatives within her decade-long career in product marketing at Microsoft, raising $40M to scale her last business. Expert in P&L management, enterprise software, and GTM strategy, Sarah’s tenacity and drive for results led to her being widely recognized as a turnaround expert and new business incubator.

We congratulate the entrepreneurs for their continued effort to build an inclusive technology industry and paving a path for the future generation of women to make their mark in technology. 

Check out their solutions in the Women In Cloud Marketplace.

There’s no denying that business transformation – powered by digital communications – has vastly accelerated during the pandemic. 2020 started the decade as the most transformative year ever – setting the stage for digital acceleration and the dramatic rise of the employee experience as far more than just an idea or concept.

85% of 800 executives in a recent McKinsey survey said their organization has increased digitization somewhat or greatly since the pandemic began. Transformation in the pre-pandemic era was slow and painful, and often provided little benefit to an average employee other than often making them redundant.

The massive difference in post-pandemic transformation is the focus on, and active participation of, virtually all employees at all levels and areas of an organization. Digital communications and collaborations have flattened the organization while increasing the speed of responsiveness and employee effectiveness.

For companies to continue to build on these gains – since there’s no turning back the clock to ‘before covid’ – companies must move from making process-focused technology choices to making people-focused ones – and that means prioritizing the employee experience, underpinned by a foundation of digital employee communications.

What is the digital employee experience? How is it materially different today than the world before 2020? And where is it going next?

History can actually provide guidance on the road ahead. Looking back about 10-15 years the proliferation of digital process reengineering took the corporate world by storm – moving away from paper, and automating many labor-intensive and redundant efforts. Many of the early solutions were made by innovators – mostly deployed on-premise – and not well integrated. They were built for and used by, a limited number of employees with deep experience in specific areas/functions of the business that was being transformed.

As digital process transformation took hold, those early innovators gave way to major players like SAP and Oracle who built bigger, more integrated solutions that could manage larger end-to-end process flows. But still designed for, and used by, a limited subset of highly trained employees (such as HR and finance professionals or manufacturing management) with limited ‘self-service’ for the rest.

Fast forward to now; the focus of digitization is well beyond basic automation, and data/transaction processing and is squarely focused on helping people make better decisions – decisions that often involve complex data or context to determine the best path forward. 

The problem today – like the issues many years ago – is that the proliferation of innovative solutions has again become confusing and overwhelming – mainly because these new apps are used by virtually all employees (not a small subset of experts or functional areas), and these new solutions impact the day-to-day, hour-to-hour workloads of all company employees – including those on the front-line.

In fact, a recent survey of IT executives found that nearly 80% of employees use as many as 6-10 online tools just to communicate. And a recent Gartner report stated that workers are digitally overwhelmed:

• 68% of employees spend much of the day toggling between apps

• 28% of their time is spent on email

• 20% is spent looking for information

• 400x – how often they context switch (e.g., get interrupted) in a given day

As a result, much of an employee’s daily work experience is now dictated by their interactions with these solutions which are making life more stressful and complex – rather than less.

The solution is conceptually simple, but technically and operationally not – make communications as seamless and friction-free as possible. We know this approach is completely viable – it’s been the mantra for the consumer experience for many years. And it’s time for the employee experience to catch up.

IT, communications, and HR leaders have come to realize that employees are the “customers” in the new digital workplace. Employees have countless demands on their attention and, to be engaged effectively, must be reached at the right time and in the right place —much like consumers. Simply put, the medium is as important as the message. “When” and “where” is as critical as the “what.”

How to Succeed in the Post-Pandemic World: Take a page from the Marketing Tech Playbook

Companies have deployed dozens of technologies in an effort to digitally transform their business processes. But these have often created friction and silos for users. To address such challenges, take a page from the consumer experience world and apply marketing technology features to modernize and unlock the full value of your employee communications and the employee experience.

The key difference with today’s technology and that of 10-15 years ago is the Cloud ecosystems that innovators can build upon. Many new solutions are being built that plug directly into the major Clouds platforms – be that Microsoft 365 or Azure, SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, AWS, etc.

Most notable in the context of the employee experience and communications is Microsoft. The Microsoft 365 platform touches far more of an organization’s employees than any other simply because it provides the core applications employees use every day: Outlook and Teams. 

To leverage this nearly ubiquitous presence, and encourage third-party application development on the Microsoft 365 and Azure Clouds, Microsoft has launched a new Employee Experience Platform called Viva. This confluence of factors has resulted in a proliferation of new and innovative third-party employee experience and communications solutions available in the Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplaces to meet this rapidly growing market segment.

How to Make the Most of these Digital EX Platforms and Innovative Apps:

  • Meet employees Where They Are: Don’t force employees to change their ways of working. Put your content where they spend most of their working day. For most employees, that’s Microsoft 365 and especially, Microsoft Teams.
  • Omnichannel Reach: Your organization needs the ability to reach all employees everywhere—not just in a specific office or physical location, but also on any endpoint the employee uses for work – especially in a hybrid workplace. That endpoint could be any device – phone, laptop, tablet, running any OS.
  • Targeting & Analytics: Employees are busy – and overburdened with irrelevant content. The more focus on targeting the right content to the right people using the right channels at the right time will result in far greater awareness and engagement by employees. Marketing has been doing this for years.
  • Automation: The more granular targeting and channel management, the more personalized the experience is for the employees, and the more likely they are to engage with the content being delivered. In the past this effort has been mostly manual, resulting in either costly labor to accomplish the effort, or more often, simply not undertaking it in the first place. Today’s latest apps, including the use of AI, are automating the distribution and management of content far better than anything before. And again, marketing has been doing this for years.
  • Intelligence: As you take the pulse of your workforce and collect data on employee engagement, online and offline behavior, and preferences, you’ll gain insight to help optimize employee communications and the employee experience.

The digital employee experience has been on the radar of IT, communications, and HR executives for a few years but the pandemic has turned the spotlight on it as a true organizational priority. The rapid technological change coupled with the increasing demands of employees and the realities of a post-covid hybrid workplace will be a key factor in determining which companies succeed in the post-pandemic era.

About Michael Rudnick

Michael Rudnick is CEO and Co-Founder of Velaku, one of a new breed of Employee Experience solutions that plug directly into the Microsoft 365 platform, including Viva – to improve employee and HR communications. Michael is a graduate of Women In Cloud’s Accelerator cohort 4.0. Michael is a frequent speaker and thought leader on the digital transformation of employee communications to improve the employee experience. Prior to co-founding Velaku Michael founded one of the first Intranet consultancies, and spent a decade leading Willis Towers Watson’s global HR portal business. He is based in New York City.