Women in Cloud is announcing the following finalists for the #CloudInnovateHERxDigital Pitch Challenge, and we are proud to present their solutions

Special congratulations to our 11 finalists that will be pitching their solutions on May 1.

  • SIPPIO enables Microsoft Teams with calling capabilities globally, allowing a user to work from anywhere, anytime at an economical price point without a committed contract, hardware or maintenance. Customers can opt in/out, up/down and be free of traditional phone systems.
  • Agtools is a SaaS Ag and Food supply chain platform offering real-time data and intelligence to farmers and buyers of over 513 fruits and vegetables helping them manage market volatility, increase profitability and reduce the world’s 4,900 daily truckloads in USA and 62,300 daily truckloads in the world in food waste.
  • BackpackEMR is transforming medical aid from temporary, short-term solutions into high-quality, long-term healthcare.
  • B’zT is an award-winning innovative fashion that creates child protection through apparel combined with tracking technology.
  • illuxi Intelligence is a cloud based, hosting and content delivering platform. We also produce, advise and support clients using our business intelligence tools for their content delivery.
  • Velaku is a workplace communications and content management solution that transforms the employee experience by revolutionizing how employees find, share and consume content directly in the flow of work.
  • The PositivityTech intelligent platform empowers organizations to treat complaints not as a drain on business resources, but as a critical source of information and insight that can create business impact.
  • Rainbow Secure Note – rSecureNote is a digital vault for Enterprise and Business Professionals to store, manage their digital assets (data, files), Business Workflows powered by Rainbow Password and Smart Multi-factor Technology.
  • Pagomed is an all-in-one solution which helps doctors charge their invoices and keep track of their income.
  • Argyle is your coordinated BIM model in 1:1 registered Augmented Reality for robust, easy field verification and QA.
  • Drbot.health precision-matches patients with the right healthcare providers, using artificial intelligence, to decrease clinical misdiagnosis

With this pitch challenge, we wanted to go one step forward and give our audience a chance to choose their  best solution among the lot. We are very happy to announce that, among the above finalists, the audience will get to vote for a solution they believe is revolutionary during the #CloudInnovateHERxDigital Pitch Challenge on 1 May, 2020. Click here to register to attend and have your chance to vote! The popular category winner is in for exciting rewards such as $1,000 in Azure Credits, an invitation to join UN Delegation, two complimentary tickets to WiC Annual Summit, and access to travel discounts up to 65% off.

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.

The digital pitch challenge event will kick off with a special keynote by Giovanna Mingarelli, CEO & Co-Founder of M&C Consulting on “Navigating Market Opportunities in the Midst of COVID-19”. Following that, our distinguished panel of judges will listen to each 2 minute pitch and ask questions to learn more about each solution before voting for the overall winner.

Our virtual pitch challenge is breaking the geographical barrier during the Covid-19 era while incorporating new-age technology like AirMeet. AirMeet is designed with a focus on large events to be hosted online with a special focus on community networking capabilities at small “roundtables” and a “backstage” experience. The event is supported by International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund, EQUALS Global Partnership, Founders LIVE, Verbinden, Alley, New Tech Northwest, AirMeet, Speaker Engage, Headstart Network, and Meylah. This is a chance to win $5,000 in cash and cloud credits, along with invitations to be a part of the United Nations delegation and much more. 

This pitch challenge gives opportunities for women around the world to showcase their cloud solutions to industry leaders and cloud experts. Women in Cloud’s mission is to help bridge the access gap through this pitch challenge and help women technology entrepreneurs reach their goal and contribute to economic growth.

Our community is stronger now than ever before. The year 2020 started off as an exciting era with our third annual Women in Cloud Summit with tremendous hope for the future. But now we have hit a bump on the road with the rise of the COVID19 pandemic. However, we at Women in Cloud are determined to keep working towards our mission to help women entrepreneurs create $1 billion in economic opportunity by 2030!

At the Women in Cloud Summit 2020 we launched our inaugural #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. The positive response from the community has now pushed us to launch #CloudInnovateHERxDigital. 

Yes! We come bearing some exciting news for all the quarantined female technology entrepreneurs from around the world. Women in Cloud is taking #CloudInnovateHER digital and will allow everybody to showcase their enterprise ready cloud solution to the world on the most powerful platform in the world: the internet. 

How do you enter?

Well, it is quite simple. Women-led companies developing an enterprise-ready cloud solution that’s earned less than $10 million in the past 12 months qualify to enter. Enter your business pitch or encourage others who qualify to enter. Solutions will be evaluated for originality, market feasibility, and use of cloud and AI solutions. Deadline to enter – April 24, 2020. Click Here to Apply

Why should you enter?

Women in Cloud is a network of over 1500+ industry leaders, policy makers and innovationists who are always looking for the next best solution available. This pitch challenge could provide your company access to the markets as well as the unique Women in Cloud Microsoft Accelerator program designed to further enhance the knowledge and techniques of an entrepreneur in the technology industry.  

This is a chance for startups and companies to compete on a global scale for a share of $5,000 in cash and cloud credits and we are more than excited to bring this chance to your doorstep. 
Click here to apply now and join our Women in Cloud Network and embark the journey of building an inclusive tech economy. 

Join the Digital Event and Vote for Your Favorite Pitch!

Join us on Friday, May 1 at 12pm PST to see the live webinar of the pitch challenge. We will feature 10 finalists that will showcase their solutions to a panel of esteemed judges. The community will be invited to learn more about the companies and vote for their favorite pitch to win the People’s Choice award, which will be announced the following week on May 8. Register to attend #CloudInnovateHERxDigital today!

Join WiC Digital Series as we share the results and highlights from the 21 Days of Action – Economic Access Campaign and share resources for continued action. We will also hear from keynote speakers Kim Campbell, the 19th and only woman Prime Minister of Canada, and Kate Roberts, Founder of Maverick Collective who will share their thoughts and insights on the importance of equitable economic access for women technology entrepreneurs.

Chaitra Vedullapalli, Cofounder and President of Women in Cloud.

With me I have some amazing speakers: the Right Honorable Kim Campbell, with me Kate Roberts, and Giovanna Mingarelli, and Olivia. 

Today we want to basically take time to come together to celebrate and also acknowledge what’s happening with Covid19.  So all the things will come together to hear the things that are in store for us. We’ll take another 3 – 4 minutes, so I want you guys to take the chat space and let us know what is keeping you excited these days because we’re all in lockdown and what does that excitement look like and go ahead and share in our Webinar Chat and what’s motivating you to join up….Virtual Brunch.   So let’s take just 2 minutes and we can get that and we can wait for others. We had over 60+ people who have signed up for this Webinar and we want to give them enough time for them to join. Sounds good?! Yep.

What’s keeping me excited is getting to do is calligraphy.  I have learned calligraphy. So this is a new skill I learned over the last, ya know, four weeks staying at home and uh that’s keeping me motivated because  what motivated me to join and the entire community of Women in Cloud really things we are about to take action on. Even in the midst of things feeling gloomy and dark and …overwhelmingly….we as a community have been able to break through and start to do micro actions which is helping the community to take action.  So that’s what is keeping me motivated.

I love it, Carmen! Yes, spring is here and flowers are blooming.  I’m in Seattle, I’m waiting for the sun to come out so we can celebrate.  So Giovanna, before we get started, what is getting you excited these days?  

Giovanna:  You know what? So as an entrepreneur, as many of us are on this call, I”ve started doing qigong and yoga everyday.  And I feel amazing about that because it’s about rebalancing the lifestyle. Right, like I think it’s something that we talk about a lot, and as busy and active as we are as women on this call, it’s always something … it’s at everyone’s forefront is, how do I have a healthy, balanced,  happy life and also be amazing and do all the stuff that I am doing. And so yeah, I’ve really weighed into healthy eating, sleeping, yoga, qigong, and i’m really excited about that and I just find that my days are flowing so much more naturally. And even I feel more productive in my work as a result of the more natural pace with which I am working, so I feel really good about that.  And we fostered a guinea pig.

Chaitra:  Ah, that’s so cool!  (Chuckle) That is fantastic!  

Giovanna:  Yes, because guinea pigs need homes during Covid, and so we have fostered one.  And he’s very sweet. He’s 9 months old.

Chaitra:  Oh, fantastic!  That is so cool!

Giovanna:  That’s what’s keeping me busy.  (Chuckle) Or rather, that’s one of my highlights.

Chaitra:  I think we can get started.  Giovanna, if you’re ok with it?

Giovanna:  I think that sounds great! Yes.

Chaitra:  Perfect. Uh, so, let’s move to the next slide. So, I want to really welcome everyone today.  We have a really action packed Virtual Brunch. If you have your coffee, please sip your coffee and your croissant and have fun today.  It’s going to be fun. So I’m actually going to be your moderator for some of the sections but Giovanna will be one. Today we have really amazing speakers who we have curated for you.  We have Right Honorable Kim Campbell. She was the 19th Prime Minister of Canada and she was the first Prime Minister of Canada who was a woman, so we’re so excited to have you. Welcome, Kim.  And with me, I also have Kate Roberts. She is the Cofounder of Maverick Collective and Giovanna and Kate met at the Davos event and they basically mastered the whole experience around the 21 days of economic access campaign.  So, welcome Kate. I’m really excited to hear what you have to say and how you can inspire the entire community to take action.  

Going to the next slide, what we have today is a couple of things.  What we want to do is … some of you already know about Women in Cloud, some of you don’t.  So I want to take a moment to talk about who we are and what we are doing. So, we are a community-led economic development initiative.  We are really taking action to create a billion dollars in economic access for women entrepreneurs by 2030 by partnerships with our corporate, as well as the legislature and the community owners.  The way we work in this particular space is really through building a community where we can provide access to a network of people through our events and programs, and online network. Second is the …of which we are very proud of.  This is an immersive readiness programming to win enterprise contracts and opportunities on (the) global stage along with showcasing the entrepreneurs who are really building cloud technology. And the third one is the public policy advancement that we are basically developing recommendations and policy with the legislatures and corporations to unlock the procurement vehicles.  So we all know that the Covid is here and I want to acknowledge that because this is something that….ah, we are going to be in a lockdown position for the next month, or maybe 2 months, or maybe 3 months. We don’t know what the landscape is and it has put a lot of impact on women entrepreneurs and this disruption has created economic development is pretty immense, from losing lives to losing opportunities and also ensuring that we are creating a space for us to really leap forward into the future. 

So what we are working together with the community to fight as a collective community to create prosperity and this is something that we are actively addressing.  As a community, we all need to come together and am looking up to all of you to make that change and also help us identify opportunities to create that prosperity in your local communities.  Today, we are here to celebrate, and in the midst of gloominess, we still want to celebrate because we have done some amazing work together as a collective unit. If you remember, two years ago we started the Women In Cloud initiative and with the whole intention to create  a billion dollars in economic access. One of the efforts was to create an economic awareness campaign, around a billion dollars, and how we go about doing that. And that campaign was launched this year on the International Women’s Day. (And) we did some really amazing pieces of work in the last one and half months, and we want to kind of celebrate that.  The first we did was we passed the proclamation at the State, where both the House and the Senate actually passed a motion for Women In Cloud. (And) we had Senator Patty Koudra basically led that work along with W Slatter on the House and we were able to do it and it was spectacular because now we have set the bar on what that economic access should look like and collectively how we develop programs to advance women entrepreneurs.  

The second thing (is that), we (also) launched was the Cloud Accelerator.  We launched…we were supposed to do it in New York on March 19. After the lockdown, we couldn’t, so literally within a week, we had to turn the entire accelerator to be a digital accelerator  using the Zoom technology . We were able to do it. And last week we had 13 entrepreneurs selected to go through this program and for (the) next six weeks, we will be working with them and helping them to really get ready to win enterprise contracts.  So I can’t thank the entrepreneurs enough, as well as the entire Women In Cloud for coming together to support all the entrepreneurs in our ecosystem.  

(And) then we also launched the 21 Days of Economic Access Campaign on International Women’s Day.  This one was a milestone. It was one of those decisions that Giovanna T say, do we want to go about doing this because we are entering a world of Covid, and after working with all our advisors, they signaled that we have to go in, we have to set a bar for how we need to operate in the future and in the current state.  So this particular campaign was launched so we are very excited to see what the outcomes are and today you get to see what outcomes we accomplished. In the midst of the whole campaign, we were also able to drive the Economic Impact Survey because we were trying to figure out should we create resources, or should we create new programs.  However, with our legislators, they said, how would you prepare an Economic Impact report for us, roll out an Impact Survey and that survey allows us to see what is missing, what is happening, with our entrepreneurs. So that one will help us guide the legislative work. So we were so excited, and I want to thank Founders Live CEO, Nick, who came in and said, “Yes, I raise my hand and I want to do it”.  Along with that, we had the UN community, the M12, Microsoft Alumni, The Voices of Innovation from Microsoft, as well as the IMCP. All the partners came together and they rolled out the campaign. I can’t tell you how powerful the data that we are collecting helps us shape the legislative. One of the aha moments that we all got was the SBA programs that are here in the U.S. does not account for women entrepreneurs.  We are left out in the Economic Stimulus Plan. So what does that look like? (So) we are working with the legislators to figure out whether the programs we need to tweek in the existing programming so women are not left behind. (So) my question to all of you right now is, if you are an entrepreneur, have you completed your Covid19 Impact Survey? If you have, thank you so much. If you have not, please take it. And if you’re an entrepreneur, please share it with your community of entrepreneurs and business owners so we have enough data to really provide the right recommendations and the right capabilities that we need in our current situation, as well as for the future so we can create economic prosperity.  

Let’s take 10 seconds.  Perfect.  

So now, I actually want to pass the baton to Giovanna Mingarelli.  She is the Women In Cloud ambassador and also Co-Founder of M&C Consulting and MC2, who has partnered with the Work to Skill campaign across North America.  For 20 years, Giovanna has worked in the field of political, as well as digital communication. She’s also a member of the government of Canada’s Treasury Board Secretariat, and also External Advisory Board for Talent Cloud, who’s developing the future of the work for Canada’s public service.  She has been a Parliamentary Witness and a keynote speaker related to the advancement of young women in politics and digital democracy through her work. (And) I really would love to invite her today to talk about insights and learnings, along with Olivia Bechthold, so that you get to learn (what) the impact we have created through the Economic Access Campaign.  So Giovanna, I want to pass the baton to you.

Giovanna:  Thank you so much, Chaitra.  I want to just take a moment to acknowledge the incredible efforts of Chaitra and her co-founder, Karen Fausio., who have spent 3 years working on building out this billion dollar Economic Access Campaign and right now as we try to scale it across North America, what a tremendous amount of effort and time has gone into this project already.   (And) seeing the proclamation at the state level in Washington and seeing the House, and I was there in Olympia, seeing the House of Representatives and the Senate pass the proclamation in support actually means there are a whole lot of things (that) we can do at the legislative level now, just in the state of Washington. So, a little bit of background on the 21 Days of Economic Access Campaign, which we are all here to celebrate today.  Basically, this largely social media campaign is to show public support for this billion dollar initiative, for which much work is going on behind the scenes. I’m going to share a little bit about what that looks like.  

So the campaign started rolling out in January of this year with an announcement that Kate Roberts and I made after a breakfast that she was hosting at the World Economic Forums Annual Meeting in Davos, about Women and the Future.  (And) that video that we recorded was subsequently aired at the Women In Cloud Summit just a couple of days later here in Seattle at the Microsoft campus to hundreds of executives in the stem field. Up until the actual launch of the social media campaign, there is a tremendous amount of support already.  (And) behind the scenes, even before this campaign was announced, we’ve been in discussions with the Canadian government, including Min. Anita Hanan, who is the Canadian Minister of Procurement, Min. Miriam Monsef, who is the Canadian Minister for Women and Gender Equality, as well as Min. Joyce Murray., who is the Minister of Digital Democracy.  All of these women have been tremendously supportive of the initiative in Canada. Basically, right now, we are working on an all-party motion in the House of Commons across parties, and we have met with all parties, who have also shown their support for this initiative. (And) we’re working on a policy resolution for all parties to support this incredible initiative to essentially make available a billion dollars in  economic access through Canada’s existing procurement vehicles. I think it’s important to note (that) we’re not asking for money, we’re not asking for new money, we’re asking for some very specific ways to align Women In Cloud Accelerator and AI technology, which includes tools called LISA that can actual read our contracts for gender bias and identify gender bias and pull it out before our contracts go to tender. (And) so what we offer as Women In Cloud is a combination of the public policies of the public support for the billion dollar initiative through this widespread social media campaign, which Olivia will speak to and tell us some of the highlights from that, as well as the tools to be able to actually make this happen, and the educational resources to provide women entrepreneurs,  in particular, SMEs, how to bid on contracts and win them. (And) so what we’re talking about is going deep into the institutions and the current vehicles that can actually enable us to see long lasting change for women and our ability to win contracts. In addition to our public policy work with elected elected officials in Canada, we’re also in discussions with Invest Ottawa, which is one of Canada’s leading incubators in the nation’s capital, to bring the Women In Cloud Accelerator to Canada, beginning in the capital, which will basically train women in how to win the billion dollar contracts. Once those are more available and we remove gender bias, and as well we have been sharing the Covid19 Report with our communities. We would invite everyone again to share that with your women entrepreneurial communities because we would like to present that to policy makers as soon as possible, to highlight the issues women are facing right now in the midst of Covid.  This includes issues like contract freezing and so many other things that many of us will have experienced.  

Finally, before I hand this over to Olivia to share specific highlights about the social media campaign, I also want to note that today we celebrate our 21 Days of Economic Access Campaign.  The first phase has come to a close. We now move into Phase 2, which is going to see much more robust engagement, a new, additional digital social media campaign, a multi partisan support in Canada, as well as more in depth discussions around the Accelerator and integrating the LISA tool into the Canadian local context.  And so all of that said, we are now in a position to welcome additional partners and we’re tremendously grateful for all of the partners who have joined us up until today and we are now opening the door for new corporate and individual partners to join our team, and to join our Women In Cloud team as part of our Phase 2. So if you’re interested, or if your company is interested, in potentially collaborating with us, or your non-profit, we invite you to reach out to Chaitra or myself directly after this call.  (And) we have a partnership proposal overview that we would love to share with you and have a follow-up discussion.  

And on that note, I am delighted to hand the floor over to my colleague, Olivia Bechthold, who is one of M&C Consulting Strategic Partners for social media, whom I have had the great pleasure and honor of working with for over six years now.  She is a light and a beacon of fabulousness and amazing power in Ottawa, the Canadian nation’s capital. Olivia, I hand it to you to walk us through the 21 Days of Economic Access Social Media Campaign, which is why many of you have joined the call.

Olivia:  Thank you, Giovanna.  So I am very excited to share the successes of our 21 Days of  Economic Access Campaign. We were able to work with and spotlight some very amazing women, including Senator Patty Kuderer, Gretchen O’Hara, Wendy Garcia, Jeana Jorgensen, Margaret Dawson, Gabriela Shuster, and, of course, our keynote speakers today: Kim Campbell and Kate Roberts, among many other streamlining women that were thrilled to have been able to put on a pedestal for this campaign.  Some of the highlights of the campaign also include the reach over hashtag, (on the screen now); it had a total reach of over 600,000, which is amazing. We saw a lot of you sharing, and communication and engagement from the community, lots of very positive sentiment with extremely well accepted campaigns. Seventy-five percent of the campaign participants were women. That’s who we’re trying to empower.  We were promoted by partners including Microsoft, UNEquals, Founders Live, IAMCP, M12, I…, Invest Ottawa, and Startup Q….. (And) the campaign saw engagement from 11 countries around the continent, so it truly was a global undertaking. (And) we had great traction from all of those engagements and all of those countries on the continent. We saw some great input on the Covid19 Survey, which we encourage you to take and participate in still, which is open.  We also invite you to share your pledge for support on the Women In Cloud Pledge, which is available on the website. So overall, it was an amazing campaign and we are so grateful to everyone who were involved and engaged and participated. We very much look forward to watching Phase 2 later this year. Giovanna, I’ll pass it back to you now to introduce our keynote speaker for today.

Giovanna: Thank you so much, Olivia.  So much amazing, positive traction.  So, so exciting! I also want to highlight that there are a number of women that we’ve engaged to be part of our 21 Days of Economic Access Campaign who have not yet been featured, who we did reach out to, who were identified as being extraordinary women to be featured and to be engaged. They will actually be featured as part of our next phase of the campaign,  post Covid, or at least we hope that will end soon. We already have a slate of fabulous women, so if there are women that you think you would like to see be part of the campaign, by virtue of being on this call, please do refer their names to us and we can certainly have that conversation.  

It is my great privilege to now introduce our first keynote speaker, Kate Roberts.  Kate is a social entrepreneur, who works on combating the world’s biggest issues affecting women.  She’s a humanitarian, a public speaker, an investor, and a fierce advocate for women and equality. In 2012, she co-founded Maverick Collective, a hundred million dollar women’s impact organization alongside Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess of Norway, M.M., and co-chaired by  Malinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2007, Kate was named a young global leader by the World Economic Forum. She has been featured as a CNN Hero and received the Jack Valenti Aids Outstanding Achievement Award. Finally, and most recently, Kate has founded the Iki Guide Company and Precent.org.  Both new enterprises, (and) Precent.org in particular, is a social enterprise startup that’s building a global movement for female sexual wellness and pleasure. Kate, off to you.

Kate:  Giovanna, Chaitra, and Olivia, huge congratulations to you all.  I absolutely love seeing the traction that you’re having. I was privileged to be part of your launch at Davos.  So, thank you for inviting me and thank you for inviting me here today. It was actually nice to put a dress on and some makeup.  Ah, I feel real again. So, thank you! Also, thank you for the lovely introduction, Giovanna.

I was trying to think about what I could say today, in these times that could be relevant and interesting and I thought about telling you a little bit about my journey, my struggle, to get financing for things that I really believe in.  I have spent the last 25 years in public health and philanthropy, working very hard to build a global health organization called PSI, which is now a 500 million dollar global health non-profit organization that works on these big diseases like malaria and Ebola and HIV and the flu and Saars and Zika, all of these very similar types of diseases that we’re seeing now with Covid19.  Of course, very much getting involved in that because what PSI does is a lot of behavior change. (And) also making health services and health products available to those who need them in the developing world. (And) the only way that we are really going to overcome this horrific struggle that we are in right now is if we all change our behavior and the capitalists rise to really attack this virus head on. 

So for some 20 years, I have been working on combating a lot of these diseases.  I very much remember SARS, I very much remember Zica, and Ebola, and the absolute freak out and the panic that happened across the world.  (But) at the same time, I also realized the importance of private capital to innovate and experiment and test things out in the field, which is also what we’re also doing now with Covid19.  We really need to understand this virus and we need to understand how it affects people and how it’s carried and I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure you’re all as glued to the news and Sanje Gupta, as I am, just hoping for a glimmer of light.  A number of years ago, I recognized the gap that there was for women, investing in women, especially issues affecting women. You know, women are our caregivers. We are the ones who juggle everything, with business, with family, with work….we are the caregivers, and if you invest in women,  you strengthen local communities, nations, and therefore, the world. So I saw an opportunity a number of years ago, to start Maverick 

Collective as a philanthropy platform for women investors and philanthropists to be able to get involved in funding the early stages of a promising solution to some of these issues that my organization, PSI, was working on.  We were very lucky to get the investment very quickly from Malinda Gates of 6 million dollars and she believed that we needed new models of philanthropy and of people getting engaged, and what we found is that women didn’t want to just  sit on boards and write checks. They really wanted to lean in and use their time, their talent, and their treasure. I’m really leaning in and getting involved in what they were investing in and it turned out to be an incredible opportunity to find new philanthropists, new sources of funding, but most importantly, also the knowledge that came with those philanthropists.  We’ve not built it to a hundred million dollar global innovation tool for PSI and others to find new ways of combating and find solutions around the issues we were working on.  

If we think back to the Ebola days, that just felt like an absolute, horrendous thing that was happening around the world, and we were able to overcome it.  Why? Because we were encouraging hand washing, we all leaned in, we looked at all the expertise that we had and we used some of this philanthropic money to be able to test things out and really scale very quickly.  So,yes, that was Maverick Collective. I’m still very much involved in that. I’ll always be the founder but I have more recently, as Giovanna was telling you, well, of course, only me, started two new things in the moment of global crisis.  (But) in the beginning, you were asking what keeps us motivated and quite frankly, I am very happy when I am building something also when I’ve recognized a gap and with Maverick Collective, I started to get lots of calls from people asking, well, how do I do a Maverick Collective, how do I raise capital for the mission that I’m really interested in?  And how do I do that in a way that’s sustainable, that breaks through the clutter of what everybody is doing? So the Ikigai Company is really helping these individuals and corporations to find their “Ikigai”. (Ikigai is the Japanese word for a long, happy, healthy, fulfilled life full of purpose.) I like to say it’s the thing that makes you want to get up in the morning and walk down the stairs to your laptop, as we are doing right now to do our work.  I also believe that, as women, we are half of the global population and everything I will do will have a gender lens of investing in women. I was so pleased to hear that you were driving this Women In Cloud initiative, (also) because stem and technology are so vital for humanity. Technology right now is going to be one of the major drivers for solving these problems, (especially) making access to women’s health products, contraception, family planning, sexual wellness and certainly a PSI and through Maverick Collective.  We’re using technology as a way, as I know they did in China trying to combat Covid19 and the Coronavirus. It really was technology that helped them to get this under control. So it’s absolutely vital that capital is unlocked. Right now for my Presence, which is the female sexual wellness company that I’m starting, it’s a for-profit, and we had a number of investors in the beginning and now they are breaking out, as we all are, with all the assets that we are lucky to have as people living in the developing world, we are trying to hold onto those,  (because) we’re not sure, we’re uncertain. What I will say is, it really is a moment of great hope for us where we have to keep going with all of these campaigns that we are working on, whether they be for-profit (or non), and I do believe that everything that socially impacts should have the for-profit drive through it because that’s what’s going to make it sustainable. That’s why I also want to start this female wellness company because it’s going to be a way for women to take control of their bodies, to have the health products that they need to be healthy, to be powerful, to be in charge and then really build this sustainable social enterprise that gives women access  to the health products and services that they actually need.  

So, on that note, I will say that this will be short-lived.  I know we feel that it’s going to go on forever; it won’t. We shouldn’t be freaking out.  We should be getting up every morning, putting some makeup on …all about ourselves, exercising, eating healthy and be very focused on your mission of what you want to accomplish.  Surround yourself with people like yourselves who have the same drive and mission. Use this time at home to research, to reconnect with people that can help you. You know, one of the reasons I started Maverick Collective was that it’s a collective of bad-ass women, (Giovanna met a few of them at Davos), who are  just extraordinary and I just get goosebumps thinking about them because we’re all on the same track, wanting to solve the world’s problems for women. We’re putting our time, treasure, and talent all in that journey together and collectively working. It’s the most beautiful thing that does create change around the world.  Then, of course, with respect to you Kim, partnering with governments, partnering with the corporate sector and the private sector is key. My world of philanthropy plays that very important part at the beginning of innovation, then governments and the private sector can take solutions to scale. That, again, is how we are going to get through this most recent pandemic, Covid19.

I would love some questions at the end of this. I would love to help any of you that are struggling with whatever your endeavor is, even if it’s just to stay motivated, which can be very hard right now, when we are locked up in our houses.  I hope you are all staying home, staying safe and staying healthy. It’s very important that we change our behaviour and we’re really listening to what the government is telling us to do right now. So, thank you.

Giovanna:  Thank you, Kate, so much for your words of inspiration.  I think, especially the need to stay connected to one another is hugely important.  Women In Cloud is actually hosting semi-regular happy hours for all the women in this extraordinary community, and so please feel free to join and to register for those.  They’re super informal. A number of us joined the first one and loved it. That’s just one way that you can stay in touch…other women that are experiencing the same things that you are.  I promise we have many commonalities in terms of our Covid experiences. So, thank you again, Kate, for your words.

I am truly honored to introduce the Right Honorable Kim Campbell.  As Canada’s first and only woman Prime Minister, Kim Campbell’s life has been a life of a number of firsts.  From the age of 16 when she became the first female student body president of her high school until 30 years later as the 19th Prime Minister of Canada, Ms. Campbell has spent much of her life breaking barriers for women.  She served at all three levels of government in Canada. After leaving politics, she served as the Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles then taught at the Harvard Kennedy School, after which she became an International Leader of Leaders, with organizations such as the International Women’s Forum, and the Club de Madrid.  The Honorable Kim Campbell, I hand it over to you.

Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell:  Thanks, Giovanna.  Thanks, everybody. I very much enjoyed Kate’s comments, thank you so much, and I’m really full of admiration for what you’re doing.  My approach is a little bit different because I was asked to address my own experience and views on the issue of economic exclusion. Why are we here?  Why do we have to have an accelerator, why do we have to focus on preparing women owned and run small and medium enterprises to compete on government contracts?  If we look back, for the last several decades, there’s been a lot of research that shows that women, even when they get their chance in the corporate world, often find it a very uncongenial environment and basically find themselves stymied in terms of  being able to rise in corporate structures and they give up and create their own businesses. And that, as we can see, when it comes to competing with large corporations for procurement, etc., can be a disadvantage, however satisfying it might be to create an enterprise, create your own rules and live by it.  But 3 years ago, in April 2017, The Atlantic Magazine, which is a terrific magazine, had a cover story where the question was, Why is Silicon Valley so horrible to women? And it’s very significant in terms of what we’re talking about here because one of the interesting things they point out was this mentality in the tech area in Silicon Valley, that somehow tech was not something that came naturally to women, that women were not really that skilled in it.  That moron at Google, who wrote that memo saying that women were not really cut out for tech, was quite rightly fired. It wasn’t that he was not only politically incorrect in defending the ladies, it’s because he was tragically, seriously, criminally wrong. So one of the things I want to say to you is, when I was a little girl….I turned 73 on March 10th so I’m the oldest one here. When I was a young girl, I was pretty smart and people would say, Oh Kim, you’re the smartest girl I’ve ever met.  (And) I would think, How are the other poor wretches faring, and I thought that it was probably a compliment. But it wasn’t a compliment, because I wasn’t the smartest girl ever. There were plenty more girls who were just as smart as I am, but at that time, if you were smart and you were ambitious, and I was a leader in many different ways, you were accepted if you were seen as an anomaly. But if you were the thin edge of a wedge of a whole bunch of other women and young girls who wanted to participate, you were a danger.  People would also say to me, You’re really smart, Kim, but really, boys are smarter than girls. Where is the female Mozart, where are the female geniuses? It’s really men who do that. At that time, I didn’t have any answers. I do now, because they do exist. I wouldn’t get into the whole question of Mozart’s older sister, who was probably just as talented as he was but unfortunately when she reached puberty, her father made her stay home. He stopped taking her around to the courts of Europe where she could develop her musical ability.  Mozart himself admired her enormously and looked up to her, so he didn’t think she was in any way a pale reflection of himself. Virginia Wolff once said that, Anonymous is like being a woman. (But) what is also true was that in the area of tech and science, some of the most important foundational work in mathematics and physics has been done by women. (And) if you read their stories, it’s so amazing how they had to fight against barriers to be able to get the studying, to get the training, and to be able to make their contributions. They often couldn’t give papers.  You know, the woman who identified the greenhouse gas qualities of carbon dioxide, she was a woman. She couldn’t give the paper at a scientific meeting. A man had to give her paper. So when you see the barriers we face, what is so extraordinary is that women still did this incredible foundational work. I don’t have time to go into it now about the Emmy Nartres, the Sophia Cobolesquez’. I mean Albert Einstein said she was the greatest woman in mathematics. He felt he was as equal as she. She solved a number of the problems in his own theory of relativity. She created a theorem which united two separate parts of physics.  She was extraordinary. Go on to The Perimeter Institute website, that’s a Canadian website, and look at their little article on women and science and you will see (that) for centuries extraordinary women who have done the foundational work. So now when people say, Where were the women geniuses? I say, Well, how about Emmy N.., how about Sophia Cobol…How about those three African American women who were featured in Hidden Figures, who were key to the modern space program. The last one has just died. I mean, there are extraordinary people. So the first thing you have to know is, if you’re a woman in tech, is you belong there.  You are not an anomaly. You are not something new and different. You are part of a continuum of brilliant women who have changed the way we see and understand the world, and who have been enormous pioneers in the development of computer science. You know in the early days people thought that computer work was boring so they let the women do it. But I think it’s very important to know that history and to understand where you fit in. Do not apologize for being a woman in tech. The problem is that very often you’re not leading a big organization because it’s very uncongenial. You have these cultures, these frat boy cultures, I mean these guys are just unbelievable cases of arrested development.  I mean, what mature woman wants to work with that. You can’t work with that.  

This wonderful article in The Atlantic, and I recommend you read it, it’s April 2017.  It’s worth looking at. They talk about how these companies realize that they had to create more diversity, so they started teaching about  Unconscious Bias. When I headed the leadership program at the University of Alberta, I used to teach about implicit attitudes and unconscious bias, the problem is that they teach it to these people in companies and everybody thinks that you’re biased, we’re all biased, oh oh.  The point about teaching about unconscious bias and implicit attitudes is to understand that it’s not just a human failure, a failing where we tend to see the world according to the landscape in which we have grown up, of women doing certain things, and people of color doing certain things,  then we think they don’t do them. It’s important to take the next step and say: our unconscious biases are based on falsehoods, our unconscious biases are based on misunderstandings of how the world works. We have to undo those. One of the themes of our opening session, the 3rd term of the college that I created was called “Learning and Unlearning”, and it’s a lot of unlearning that has to be done for people to understand what women bring to the table.  I want to say, understand the richness women have brought to all the fields that you’re operating in. Never feel apologetic. Never feel that you have to somehow compensate for being a woman. What you may lack are the skills that would come from being in power. What also strikes me about this is that in many ways, what you’re dealing with in terms of wanting to be in on government contracts or large corporate contracts, is that it is not unlike the challenge of women who want to be in politics, because in politics it’s about power and people don’t give it up easily.  When you are bidding on contracts, other people are going to find whatever they can to elbow you off the stage so that we can get them. Understand what you’re dealing with. There are serious interests at conflict here. (And) nobody is going to give it to you, which is why you need to have the skills, you have to be able to compensate for what you have as a small business, the lack of opportunity and scope you may have had to be skillful in bidding on these things. That’s why this Accelerator is so exciting and interesting to empower people to be able to do it.  

I want to say one other thing about this: I have spent much of my life working for the advancement of women and after having political retirement thrust upon me by the Canadian electorate, I have done that in many countries in the world.  This is one of the things that I’ve experienced, I am the first woman to have been Prime Minister of Canada. I’m the only woman, ever, to have been elected leader of a party that could have formed a government, whether they did or not. What that meant was that nobody who looked or sounded like me had ever done that before.  So people who are invested in the status quo were very uncomfortable. Somebody recently tweeted a cute little video of me opening an international competition in Ontario when I was Prime Minister. I was looking at it thinking, what a cute young thing I was there, boy, at a mere 46. (But) what is interesting is that the people were often very excited to have a woman as prime minister, but people in the Ottawa press gallery, who  thought they owned the political process, couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t look or sound like any of the other people who had been there before. (And) you are not going to look or sound like a lot of the other people who have won the contracts, got the recognition, etc. What is so important is that it is bigger than just our individual contracts. It’s bigger that our individual positions. We are now facing a world where there is push back on the advancement of women.  One of the things that comes with resurgent authoritarianism, which we are seeing…I was a Soviet Specialist in my youth and as soon as I saw Donald Trump playing footsie with Vladimir Puten, I thought, we got a problem here. The legitimization of misogynistic speech, all of this stuff, this is a threat to us. Everything that you do to create credibility and strength for women in your areas of activity, in the economy, in your businesses, you are tiles in the mosaic of progress, tiles in the mosaic of a world that enables women to be who they are and make the contributions that they can make.  It’s incredibly important. The Pew Research has said that, the best indication of the social economic and political advancement of a country is the status of its women. It matters. It matters far beyond your lives. Everytime you can be a role model to, not just a young girl, but to a young boy about who gets to do those jobs and what qualities and skills women have. You’re part of something very much bigger than your own life, and as I get older and I see this pushback, it worries me to no end because, at the end of the day, stereotypes are attitudes about groups that destroy people’s lives. We need to fight those stereotypes that are just unfounded, but the capacity of women in all of the fields… Many of the research on leadership shows that women actually out perform men, but if people don’t think that somebody that looks like you could lead, then you won’t get the chance.  That’s why I’m so grateful for the ….and the Jacintha Arthur’s and people like that around the world who are making a name for women leaders and making people sit up and say, yes, women are strong and they can do it. So, I want to say how happy I am to support what you’re doing in this project. I think it is incredibly important, and Kate, this notion of women’s bodies and …you know, one of the big taboos is that women are not supposed to be sexual. But i think that if people realized that we were sexual, they wouldn’t have made so much effort over centuries trying to control us and lock us up and keep us away from temptation, because we are. (Smile) Anyhow, on that note, I just want to say, I’m happy to answer any questions. From my perspective, I see you as part of the bigger picture which involves the protection of the status of women and the ability of women to make the contributions.  I was reading a book recently that suggested that patriarchy actually really got its start in the agricultural era of human development with the development of the plow, because in the process of hoeing and tilling forms of agriculture, men and women did it equally but the plows were originally invented requiring the upper body strength of men, and also created a different approach towards property, in defining property, and what was yours. That was part of the process that led to the separation of women and the creation of a woman’s domain, etc. When I was at the International Bowling Competition, I think the notion of any definition of gender roles is based on the need to be smart to man the ox and man the plow. You have to be a little bit out-of-date so et’s do whatever we can to drop kick it into oblivion and show what women really can do and what we bring to the world. Thank you. 

Giovanna: Thank you, Kim Campbell.  That was incredibly inspiring, very insightful, and very uplifting, I think, for the community.  Thank you so much for your support. We’re really, again, honored and delighted that you took the time today and support our initiative.  So, Kim Campbell has actually given a number of interviews that you can find podcasts in tv and print, on this very issue about the need for gender equality in various areas and I would encourage anyone that is curious about learning more to do some of that research, of course.

We do have questions now that  I’m going to kick off the Q & A section with.  So, the first question is from Karen Fasio, who is the co-founder of Women In Cloud.  For both Kate and Kim, the question is: Where do you recommend we focus to help us use this opportunity to advance our objectives for economic access? I think the question is in the context of the world that we are now in, how can we use this opportunity to advance our objectives for economic access, broadly?

Kim: Take the piece that resonates with you and work on that.  I think you need to figure out what of this whole project resonates with you and relates to what you’re doing and find the pieces that will strengthen you in doing what you need to do in your own particular agenda.  

Kate:  I think I would say that, look, we’re all lionesses and I truly believe that if you are passionate about something and you really believe it, and you have articulated your mission and your passion, you just have to get it out there and find a platform.  This platform, it’s a great way of doing that, connecting with others, networking and just getting to the right people who believe in you. And what I know from my own experience is, people give to people. They don’t give to missions, they don’t give to an organization, people give to people.  If you can really articulate yourself and deliver whatever it is that you’re trying to do with precision and passion, you will get the investment that you need for what you’re trying to achieve. So, do research, try to get to the people that you think can give to what you’re trying to achieve and articulate yourself.  But, again, people give to people. That’s it. And it’s not money that changes the world, it’s people.  

Giovanna:  Thank you so much.  Kim, do you have anything to add to that?  

Kim:  Nope.

Giovanna:  Super.  Ok, the next question is for you Kim from Ellen Feeney.  Her question is: Where do you recommend we focus to help use this opportunity to advance our objectives?  Through venture capitalists and legislative participation? I guess, in this time of Covid, is there anything we can do on the legislative side, given that everyone is preoccupied with Covid, the Equal Economic Access, this whole campaign, there are so many other priorities, is there a way we can continue in the midst of everything going on right now and how can we move this forward in the midst of this global issue?

Kim:  I think prepare to go in whenever the opportunity arises.  One of the advantages of this enforced lockdown is that we do have the opportunity to do some thinking and as this technology shows, people can get together and chat and share ideas.  But I think the point is, not to say, oh well, we can’t do anything. I think that Kate made it clear that she is still doing stuff, but be ready for the opportunities and as we emerge “when the lights come on again” and we’re back in a functioning society,  because what it is that you’re doing here really matters. Prepare yourself. I’m not sure that there’s nothing that can be done. I’m not sure that every government minister is spending 24/7 on Covid. I may be wrong, but I think they have to run their departments and whatever.  I think taking the opportunities to reach out, build the alliance, prepare yourself for whatever presentations or things that you want to do. Just get ready.  

Giovanna:  Just keep going.  Ok, thank you so much.  This next question is for Kate from Nehal Mehta.   Are you supporting women’s founders in health care in Canada with clinical research on Covid19 ?

Kate:  Actually, PSI works with the Canadian government to get funding. PSI only works in the developing countries, so we do not …Maverick Collective is not a foundation.  Maverick was created to really help PSI as a global health organization to innovate, so we don’t actually fund individuals that are not working in the developing world, but we do form collaborations and collectives of people who are working on the same missions.  So, I’m sure that PSI is partnering with experts and innovators in Canada. I just don’t know who.  

I want to add to the last question.  As the Hon. Kim was speaking, I was thinking to myself  that right now, with everything that’s going on with Covid19, people are either glued  to the news in despair or they’re really thinking about their own purpose. We have a lot of time to think right now, so now is a really good time to reach out to people with purpose.  When I said, money doesn’t solve problems, people do, what I mean by that is, when you ask somebody for money, you get help, and when you ask somebody for help, you get money. So, I would really encourage you to find people right now in the midst of this crisis, who perhaps are looking for purpose.  That could be helping you to achieve whatever mission it is you’re working on.  

Giovanna:  Perfect.  Thank you so much.  The next question is for Kim from Nancy Watt.  She loved your reference to Virginia Wolff, who also said, “The history of men’s position is to emancipation and is  more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself”. Where do you think we are in that story right now?  

Kim:  Not as far ahead as I would have hoped.  There has been a lot of change since I was young, certainly a lot in law and policy.  One of the advantages of women becoming legislators is that they address issues often across party lines,  and change our policies that support women in many ways. But I wouldn’t have thought until November 2016, of  how much misogyny and pushback there was really hovering under the surface. It required somebody like Donald Trump to give it permission, to articulate it, and I think it’s very frightening.  I do think that’s why leadership matters. People often take their cue from …this is why I think when you have a pulpit, you have the capacity to speak to people and it carries with it a huge moral responsibility.  So, we are going to have to try and untangle that. There will never be a time when we can go to bed and pull the covers over our heads and think that it’s all going to work on autopilot. We’ll always have to struggle for it because it does involve contests over power and opportunity, etc.  But I think that we’ve accomplished a lot but I think that the rights of women are still ….in some parts of the world, very much nonexistent. Also even in our peaceable kingdom, there are those who would like to push back and that’s why I say that the resurgence of authoritarianism is part of what goes with facism. … Not perfect leadership. 

Giovanna:  Thank you so much.  My next question is from Karen Fasio for both of you.  What’s your take on women and board participation? So while we’re also fighting the fight in our careers and businesses, we are getting  pressure to also demonstrate power and success from a board seat. Is it something you recommend women focus their effort and investment in themselves to do? 

Kate:  I absolutely 1,000 percent think that women participation in boards is crucial.  It’s crucial for our own development. For me, it’s not even a question. We absolutely should be on boards.  Boards should have 50 percent participation of women and 50 percent men. There are all sorts of services now that help train you both in finding opportunities on boards, for-profit and non-profit boards.  It’s a no-brainer for me. I also think that, something I’ve wanted to say here, we’re all women advocates. That’s why we’re on this webinar today but I don’t think the discussion needs to be men versus women because we need men for our own evolution, for our own equality.  We need men to accept women’s sexuality and I don’t think we should try to be on a board and look like a man and wear a pantsuit. I think we should use what we have which is our sexuality, our smarts, our brains, our ideas, our creativity… all the things that make us successful in our day-to-day.  That’s why we need to be on boards. So, I think we need to change the discussion around when we talk about men versus women. Listen, men do some things that women can’t do and women do a lot of things men also can’t do, and I think it’s turning up as equals at the table and demanding that. We should be demanding that.  Demand that we have that right at the table, at the board seat. We prove ourselves then. We don’t let men talk over us. We have just as much rights to be there at the board seat as a man (does). But it’s not men versus women.  

Kim:  I always say,  it’s not women versus men.  It’s up to the women who get it to persuade the men who don’t get it.  I would say that why it’s important to have good representation is that whoever sits on a board …and it just doesn’t apply to women, it could just as easily apply to any non prototypical person who sits on a board.  Definitely you need to speak in your own voice. You have to be able to be who you are, and if you are alone and you are expected to fit in with this male culture, it becomes very difficult. This is why I like the approach the Norwegians took, to having quotas, gender quotas, on boards.  They said that there shall be no fewer than 40 percent of either sex, but it’s this notion that men are the default captains and that you’re doing women a favor by having them on boards. When Prime Minister Trudeau created his first gender balanced cabinet, one of the foreign leaders said to him, “Why do you have a gender balanced cabinet?  Why didn’t you just appoint on merit? I would have had more women”. I think we sometimes forget and we think that if we have women on boards, we’re somehow pushing men off in favor of women. But there is some very interesting research out there that shows that when you have more women on boards, men actually perform better. The payoffs of having women is getting rid of a lot of mediocre men.  

Kate:  One thing I’d like to add to that.  Trillions of dollars are passing down into the hands of women now as the family money is going into the hands of women.  I think that with everything that’s happened with the women’s movement, with Me Too, and everything that’s happening, I think a lot of corporations and nonprofits are actually realizing that even though that’s not the reason to do it, women are going to bring a lot more to their business.  I’ve recently had a discussion with a private bank where all the partners were men and I asked them, why don’t you have any women partners? And they said, well, they’re off having babies. They came up with some bullshit answers and I reminded them that very soon their biggest clients are going to be the women as we inherit the money and start working in the family offices.  I think there is a lot to be said and now is our time. Now is our time and we need to jump on this opportunity because it all has been lined up for us.  

Giovanna:  Absolutely.  To wrap up this one particular question, with Women In Cloud, the narrative is about women and men.  That really has been the message of Women In Cloud. We have some incredible men who were featured as part of the 21 Days of Economic Access, from both the public and private sectors.  These are the men that will really help us in our mission to accomplish our goals. I think we’re all very much on the same page here.  

Thank you both, Kim Campbell and Kate Roberts, for an incredible and inspiring Q & A session and for your extraordinary contributions. 

Chaitra:  Personally, I’m more energized, more motivated and committed for creating economic access for women in the tech industries, so Kate, Ms.Campbell, Giovanna, Olivia , fantastic work.  I am inspired. A couple of things that I took away personally – Covid will be short-lived, take this time to think and reset your mindset. Second, understand the richness of life around you and go out and contribute because people give to people.  Three actions I have for each one of you, and I want you to take collective action. Please take the pledge that allows us to have a camaraderie of saying how we are going to collectively work together to create economic access. Second, partner with us for the Phase 2 campaign.  If you saw…we are reaching 600,000 people in just one campaign in the midst of Covid, imagine what a Phase 2 campaign would look like. So we want you to partner with us. Thirdly, take your Covid19 Survey and if you want to partner with us, please do. As a partner, you do get early access to the report before anyone else.  So, please join that particular campaign with us. 

Thank you, and have a fantastic day!   Take micro actions and keep yourself positive because  people give to people. Join our community. We are really excited to have you today.  Thank you. 

Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is back! The Women in Cloud team is immensely happy to announce Cohort 3.0 after two successful cohorts which have expanded knowledge, access and inclusivity of entrepreneurs, while adding dollars to the economic system in the technology sector. 

Since initiation Women in Cloud’s mission has been to create Access for Acceleration to promote Action. Women In Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is designed as 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 expertly designed to help women entrepreneurs win enterprise opportunities, get access to Azure credits, an advisor community, and a global stage to showcase your business.

The 3.0 Cohort Immersive Kickoff session was on 26 March, 2020. The first session featured curated speakers, Chaitra Vedullapalli, Co-Founder and President of WiC; Karen Fassio, Marketing Director of Microsoft OCP and Co-Founder of WiC; Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer of New York City Comptroller Office; Shari Burk, Founder & CEO of Vision Platform; and Patti Dobrowolski, CEO & Creative Activator of Up Your Creative Genius. The speakers consisted of founders, industry leaders and previous cohort entrepreneurs who set the tone for the new class about the current industry landscape, how to vision their cloud businesses, along with deliverables and takeaways by the end of 6 months. 

The cohort 3.0 is different from the previous editions for a number of reasons. Apart from being more structured with the use of the #WiCDigitalNetwork as a home base for the lessons, this cohort program empowers entrepreneurs to more effectively connect as a community and access necessary resources to ultimately grow their business. COVID-19 has had a direct impact on our accelerator program and the way we conduct the program itself, but the pandemic has not stopped us. We have creatively found our way around it using effective digital tools to achieve more efficiency. 

Our scheduled in-person kick-off session was conducted digitally this year. The several meetings that were conducted in-person previously are now completely digital. Going digital has let us expand our horizon and open this program to people from around the world rather than just a region. The Digital Cloud Accelerator online course launch is on the agenda next. There is a positive shift in the attitude of entrepreneurs to continue learning, working towards growing their companies and bettering themselves in this time of uncertainty. 

This year’s WiC Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is more than just an effort to make economic contributions to the system by empowering entrepreneurs. It is about embracing the new normal and moving forward with a sense of community. It is about adopting self-empowerment and finding comfort in knowing where to turn for support with a community at your side. Most importantly, it is about collective growth and learning.

The cohort 3.0 will continue with various digital lessons, live speaker interviews, weekly digital office hours, and monthly team working sessions with everybody involved. The syllabus is shaped in a way to make it easier for entrepreneurs to seek answers and find success individually. Until we are safe to meet our leaders and entrepreneurs in person to celebrate the progress we will have made, we are all committed to taking part in this journey together. 

Thank you for such a wonderful kickoff. Your flexibility and commitment to launch the program during this testing time is greatly appreciated. We as the COVID Cohort will become the force for change by building solutions not crippled by this chaos. Look forward to this journey with this great group.

Thank you for such a wonderful kickoff. Your flexibility and commitment to launch the program during this testing time is greatly appreciated. We as the COVID Cohort will become the force for change by building solutions not crippled by this chaos. Look forward to this journey with this great group.” – Gowri Selka, Volantsys

Yah great session ! Thank you ! Especially the “customer value prop #madlib exercise” ..
I’ve encountered a lot of enterprise sales folks at could use that exercise – for all parties benefits – before they approach a customer ! #goodone
” – Ellen Feaheny, Appfusion

Presenting the Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Cohort 3.0:

  • SciMarONE – Donna Conroy
  • Rainbow Password – Nehal Mehta
  • illuxi – Genevieve Desautels
  • Resume Free Inc. – Allie Knull 
  • Agtools Inc – Martha Montoya
  • ELYON International, Inc. – Carmen Nazario 
  • Intect, Inc – Lisa Jain
  • X0PA Ai Pte Ltd – Nina Alag Suri
  • Volantsys Analytics – Gowri Selka 
  • Appfusions – Ellen Feaheny
  • Stimulus, Inc. – Tiffanie Stanard 
  • ApertureData – Vishakha Gupta

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” — Maya Angelou

All throughout March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, a time to highlight and honor the contributions of women today and throughout history. While March brings International Women’s Day and shines light on the achievements of women, I’m proud that I work for an organization that empowers women throughout the year. Last year, Insight was recognized for advancing gender equity — with a third of its corporate board being comprised of women, exceeding the current average of 23.4%. This month, we celebrate our one-year anniversary of Women With Insight, a teammate resource group created to honor, empower and grow the skills of women throughout our company. And, I am honored to work on an executive team that has strong female representation.

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One of the primary messages that comes out of Women’s History Month is the importance of supporting other women. Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at the Women in Cloud Summit 2020, which focused on how we can advance, together. I love communities like Women in Cloud because they grant me the opportunity to learn from, be inspired by, and share wisdom with fascinating female leaders. 

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My topic was “High Performance Culture: Managing Multiple Generations.” I focused on how to support and ensure all teammates are working in an optimal environment, why trust and respect among all teammates is crucial and how meaningful results increase when you can achieve this kind of team culture.

If you reflect on your own career, it’s likely there was a person or moment that changed the course of your path for the better. Maybe, it was a coworker or someone close to you who gave you tough criticism. Personally, making a positive impact on one person’s career is a tremendous honor and joy. I hope that by sharing my own life and professional experiences, I can create meaningful connections and enable women in their own journey.

I think it’s important to support fellow women in their career paths — particularly in an industry that has, historically, been dominated by men. Today, women are finding their voice in technology, and that’s worth celebrating.

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Women in Cloud has created a 21 Days of Action campaign to #empowHERaccess to fair and equitable economic opportunities for all. I pledged my support and now you can do the same. You can add your name here: https://www.womenincloud.com/pledge/

Behind every successful women is a tribe of other women who have her back. I encourage everyone to not only wish for equality, but to show up and take action. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to be a force for change, to impact your community and those around you. From the conversations we have over cups of coffee, to the mainstage speeches we give, we’re working towards a better future, together… because our paths are not walked in isolation.

About the Author

Amy Protexter has always been fascinated by ideas. As a history major at Augustana College, she noticed the way a single idea expresses itself in different forms through the conduct, art and culture of a society. Her talent for connecting those ideas into a compelling message led Amy to her master’s degree in executive leadership from the University of Nebraska. Her success at leading change in corporate cultures brought her to Insight, where she guided the
company’s 2015 global rebranding and works daily to distill its message to the world through some of the channel’s most compelling digital marketing strategies. Amy started her career in healthcare, where she developed an ability to challenge an organization’s status quo and better align its mission and messaging. As senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Alegent Health — and later as a vice president at Vanguard Health Systems — she created messaging, projects and advocacy efforts to push structured corporate healthcare systems to a more patient-centric model. In 2012, Amy took her innovative approach into education. As vice president of marketing at Edgenuity, she led a complete renaming
and rebranding of the digital learning provider. She also fostered internal and external strategies that focused the corporate message and emphasized student empowerment. Amy joined Insight in 2014 as vice president of marketing, and was promoted to senior vice president North America marketing in September 2017. A lifelong learner, Amy applies the latest marketing ideas to the global rebranding (her fifth) and supports Insight’s identity as a problem-solving provider that puts the client first.