At ITSMF gala, IT execs look beyond the glass ceiling
Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA, www.bdpa.org) plans an even more effective national technology conference this August. "Last year’s was the most successful yet, and we intend to exceed that," says BDPA president Denise Holland.
"Every year we raise the bar," she notes. "Everyone I talked to last year was going home excited and filled with enthusiasm, already planning to be back this year."
BDPA’s thirty-first annual conference will be held August 5 to 8 at the new convention center in Raleigh, NC. The 500,000-sq-ft center opened last September, a cornerstone of downtown revitalization.
In fact, overall renovation investment in Raleigh’s "New Main Street" has come to $3 billion so far. The result is glittering entertainment, both fine and fun dining, museums, arts and festivities.
BDPA has partnered with the city of Raleigh to encourage local participation. Holland notes, for example, that more than 170 biotech companies are clustered around Raleigh. "It’s the Silicon Valley of the East," she says. Raleigh also rubs shoulders with one of the first high-tech developments in the country, the fifty-year-old Research Triangle Park.
Holland believes that involving these technology-heavy businesses and North Carolina’s educational institutions will encourage strong local attendance. Members of the local Research Triangle chapter of BDPA will provide contacts to promote the conference.
Meet president Holland
Denise Holland’s hard work as BDPA president is done in a volunteer capacity. In her daytime IT job she is an SAP expert for Amtrak (Washington, DC). She’s responsible for overseeing the human-capital management mySAP production system, as well as managing the IT side of payroll, HR, time management and training/change management teams. She presents system changes to senior management, makes sure appropriate departmental processes and procedures are developed, and participates in SAP project implementations.
Busy times at the conference
As always, the conference will feature a huge career fair, plus a technology expo where companies show off their latest and greatest. Technical and professional development workshops and the IT showcase offer professional opportunities for BDPA members at every level. In fact, many technically minded companies are happy to honor the continuing education credits their people pick up by attending project management workshops at BDPA.
GE explains its innovation culture
One forward-looking workshop will be presented by Russel Mayer, EVP and CIO of GE Healthcare. This General Electric division is a global player in medical diagnostic technology, IS and biosciences. The workshop will describe how GE Healthcare built "a culture of innovation."
Mayer is also CIO of GE’s infrastructure technologies division, which includes healthcare, aviation, transportation and enterprise solutions businesses. He will explain the tools, technologies and challenges of building a culture of innovation in one of GE’s most globally diverse companies, and doing it with minimal financial investment in tough times.
ITSMF holds its meeting
The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) will hold its quarterly meeting concurrently with the BDPA conference, and it’s also hosting two BDPA sessions. "Passing the torch; mastering our fate" will present six successful IT pros sharing their insights into leadership in a competitive environment. The second session, "Can IT women have it all?" has four senior ITSMF women sharing their strategies for work/life balance.
BDPA honorary chairs
Many industry leaders are honorary chairs on BDPA’s executive leadership council. They include Russel Mayer of GE Healthcare; LaVerne Council, VP and CIO, Johnson & Johnson; Cynthia Marshall, president, AT&T North Carolina; Charles Brandquist, VP for HR and recruitment, Credit Suisse; Gail Roper, CIO for the city of Austin, TX and formerly CIO for the City of Raleigh, NC; Marc DiFrancisco, president, CIO Forum and Executive IT Summit; Martin Davis, VP and CIO, Wachovia Corp; Leroy Hill, president, Yorel Integrated Solutions; and Dr Lenny Superville, CEO of Infosysarchitecture and former CIO of the North Carolina office of the state auditor.
Dr Superville notes that BDPA touches the lives of thousands of IT professionals, and also the lives of many young people through its youth education programs. "Our company is a BDPA champion," he says. "We want to stand behind this organization that serves the professional well-being of its stakeholders and displays constant commitment to excellence in the delivery of expertise in the IT industry."
Mentoring and showcasing
BDPA’s active mentoring programs support students as well as professionals. Programs like its college expo, youth technology camps and High School Computer Competition (the famous HSCC) give young people their own chance to shine. They get experience working together in teams under the leadership of successful pros, and make friends from around the country.
The BDPA entrepreneur showcase gives minority business owners the chance to present their products and services to big companies, while corporate sponsors are pleased to hook up with prospective suppliers.
Best Companies for Blacks in Technology awards are presented at a dignitaries’ reception. The top company gets the Epsilon Award for promoting a workplace that supports the advancement of African Americans in IT.
Golf and awards
The IT golf classic is played on Saturday, and Saturday night is the climax of the meeting: the awards gala. The chapter of the year is recognized and the winners of the HSCC are announced, after which the kids can go off to their own teenage dance.
"They let go of the stress of the competition on the dance floor," one of the organizers notes with a smile.
Already signed up for the big event are Abbott Laboratories; Allstate Insurance; American Express; AT&T North Carolina; Blue Cross & Blue Shield NC; CISCO; City of Raleigh, NC; Compuware Corp; Credit Suisse; Dell; Deloitte; EDS; HP Corp; Freddie Mac; GE Healthcare; IBM; Johnson & Johnson; JP Morgan Chase; Lockheed Martin; Macy’s System & Technology; Mayo Clinic; McKesson Technology; Merck & Co, Inc; MetLife; Microsoft; Monsanto; National Security Agency; NCCI; Oracle; Prudential Financial; Robert Half; State Farm; State of North Carolina; SunTrust; Target; UBS Investment Bank; Wells Fargo/Wachovia; WellPoint; Wyeth; and Yorel Integrated Solutions.
Christine Willard Heinrichs is a freelance writer who lives in Cambria, CA.