Women in IoT: Welcome to the next generation
Women who have achieved success in their careers rising to senior positions in IoT have led the way for next generation. We spoke to Tresa Xavier, a product management intern, Madeline Prins, a field application engineer intern, and Emily Whitwam, a mechanical engineering intern, all at MultiTech, to find out what has attracted them to IoT and how they see their careers developing
IoT Now: What excites you about the Internet of Things?
Tresa Xavier: IoT is at the heart of digital innovation at the moment and has the capacity to redefine culture and business models. That’s incredibly exciting and I’m fascinated by how collaborative IoT is as an industry – lots of businesses work together to pool resources on research and development.
Madeline Prins: I totally agree. I’m passionate about big, global products and the environmental and clean energy movements. IoT has a really important role to play in these moving forward.
Emily Whitwam: IoT can be a huge aid for advancing the common good and I enjoy working with a variety of industries where the widespread impact can be huge.
IoT Now: What unique skills and perspectives do you bring to the table?
TX: I had leadership roles at college and am on the board of the Women in Technology club at our school, which promotes diversity. I’m really interested in data science and visualisation and, through that experience, I’m driven to know much more about connectivity.
MP: I’m double majoring in computer science and film, which I think is unique and gives me a different view of problem solving. I’ve also learned to collaborate with all sorts of people.
EW: I think the perspective I bring is helpful. I’ve always had a huge love for arts and crafts
so I love offering other perspectives with a creative twist. I enjoy coming up with new models here at MultiTech.
IoT Now: What has your experience been like so far in this market?
TX: This is a tremendous learning opportunity. I’ve come here and learned so much about different industries and that’s what’s so exciting about IoT. There’s new research and new learning every day – and I think it will stay like this.
MP: Experience is really important. I’ve done an internship in the past with virtual reality programmes and being introduced to technology is really cool. Also, my previous mentor was a female manager and everyone at MultiTech is willing to help me.
EW: This is my second summer at MultiTech and my experience of IoT has been very rewarding. I’ve had some dealings with cellular companies and some with medical companies but, with this, you can see the impact globally, not just locally.
IoT Now: How can the industry encourage, mentor and grow talent like yours?
TX: By continuing to support and provide mentoring and learning opportunities – through scholarships and grants – to women and other people with marginalised identities.
MP: I second that. Opportunities for internships and jobs are the most important thing because people can see that their goals and ambitions are really possible through them. You don’t often get the validation and empowerment you’d like.
EW: Women have a huge want to help people and often don’t realise the technology field has the ability to do that. I’ve volunteered for the STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – programme which helps five to 14 year old girls with their understanding of how technology can help.
Sara Brown, the marketing director of MultiTech: MultiTech also supports Technovation [MN] which targets middle and high school girls for technology and entrepreneurship. It’s not just about coding, it’s building business plans and taps into the exact moment where research shows girls drop out of technology learning. Learn more at http://technovationmn.org/
IoT Now: What obstacles have you overcome in your education/career journey so far?
TX: At college it can sometimes be a bit difficult because there is that sense of isolation and intimidation in the male-dominated spaces you might come across. I’ve experienced this at previous internships with boys from IT. I’ve overcome it but it’s a process all women have to go through and most can overcome it, if not eradicate it.
MP: There is definitely a gender imbalance in the tech industry and that starts not in the workplace but in school so fostering and encouraging women to get into STEM classes early on is important. The more girls are in class, the more comfortable you feel. At my school there is an imbalance but I’ve turned it into a positive thing. It has forced me to become stronger and voice my opinion, make sure I’m heard and my ideas are looked at.
EW: In my first year in engineering class I was the only girl and I sat at the back by the wall but one day I answered a problem set by the professor and after that I was called the Queen of Engineering. I ended the first year as a resident advisor for incoming freshmen engineers. Role models are a huge part of this.
IoT Now: What are the big picture problems you most want to solve in your career?
TX: Right now, I’m trying to figure out where I want to go with my computer science degree. I’m trying to decide whether to pursue software engineering or a more productfocused approach. I’m making strides but a common question for millennials is about whether to develop generalist or specialist skillsets. Do I need to major in one specific field?
MP: For me, I’m still figuring out what direction I want to go in. I’m passionate about environmental conservation especially with marine life and protecting clean water. IoT is definitely part of that. I’d love to be involved.
EW: It’s going to be our generation’s job to take care of this earth. All science and engineering fields will collaborate on that and the communication aspect is very important. I’m also taking a minor in materials science and it’s cool to study new materials and come up with opportunities for biodegradable materials.
IoT Now: What compelled you to take this particular internship?
TX: MultiTech is a big name in providing communications and IoT solutions and has a very attractive history. I have this computer science degree and I wanted to experience cross-functional leadership and this internship promised to help me do that. The people here are very open-minded and helpful.
MP: It’s pretty much the same for me. When I interviewed I could tell it was an open-minded and collaborative environment. We always go further when we share ideas and work together and MultiTech really supports new ideas wherever they comes from.
EW: I started working here in 2016 in the summer of my sophomore year and came back this summer because the people are awesome. When I went back to my electronics and thermodynamics class after being here last summer I was surprised how much I had learned here. It’s a real education.