Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Utah Women Tech Council

I recently attended the 8th Annual Utah Women Tech Council Awards luncheon. It was inspiring on many levels. One level of inspiration was to highlight some of the amazing women in tech that I work with. I asked a manager from one of our software development teams to share a few details that I could post here . . . 

Vicky was born in Russia, but her family moved to America when she was two years old.  She grew up in New York and lived there until two years ago, when she moved to the Silicon Slopes with her husband and two daughters. Vicky graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Alameda and had a successful 17-year career as a software developer. She's been part of building platforms for a wide variety of systems in the financial and regulatory services, healthcare, e-commerce, manufacturing, education, and telecommunications industries. She has been responsible for developing and maintaining software in $500 million application portfolios. She is a proven technology leader.  On the personal front, she loves to travel. She also enjoys skiing, boating, camping and cooking food from around the world. 

Commenting on her team, Vicky says, "My entire team is new to EMC. None of us have been here for more than six months.  Everyone has been doing great things to get us running smoothly, but the biggest surprise has been Breana.  She joined the team in July as an Associate Developer, but didn’t have any prior experience in Java, our primary coding language.  In fact, she had never been exposed to the vast majority of technologies we are using.  Breana was asked to start working on a coding exercise that I have seen used in the past: a fairly simple address book application.  

This let her get some good practice in what we do while not using live projects for training.  The rest of the team got involved too, with our Business Analyst providing user stories while the Senior Developers helped Breana understand how to take advantage of her previous coding experience to quickly become a strong, contributing member of the team. We recently finished our fourth sprint for this project. So far she has developed a database to store contact information, an application for adding and retrieving contacts, and a web-based GUI so that even non-technical people can use her project. I’ve been really impressed with the way she has taken a basic knowledge of one programming language and turned it into a solid foundation for future success."

I can't wait for the awards luncheon that recognizes Vicky or Breanna or both of them for their contributions to technology here in Utah! I will be proud to claim them as friends and colleagues. I am glad to work in an environment that fosters diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for all. Our Women's Leadership Forum is just one of several employee circles that facilitates these opportunities. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Utah mountains: More than Silicon

Of course, the tech scene is booming here in Utah, but the beautiful thing about it is the backdrop. Here are a few snapshots of recent adventures, basically in my backyard . . .

Mount Timpanogos summit
I usually hike Mount Timpanogos 3-4 times each year, sometimes in the winter, but mostly in the summer and fall. I prefer the Timpooneke Trail even though it is slightly longer than the Aspen Grove Trail. A normal time for me is about 2 hours to the summit and 1.5 hours back down. I almost never slide down the glacier on the east slope because I don't like to bring much with me to slide on and there always seems to be a rock or two hiding in the ice. It is an extra treat to run into mountain goats somewhere along the trail and wildflowers in the upper meadows, not to mention friends at the summit shack!

The window in my office literally looks right up at Lone Peak. So hiking it has become almost a necessity a few times each year. It is a longer, steeper hike than Timp and amazingly diverse. I prefer going up the Cherry Logging Trail and then connecting over to Trail of the Eagle to get to Outlaw Cabin and then proceeding from there to the final cirque and up the summit ridge. I love the fresh spring water along the way, the towering pines, the sheer granite walls and the general lack of foot traffic. Hiking with my wife is a nice bonus. I've been up there recently with other friends and co-workers. I often take a dog or two. But I'm also perfectly happy to do a solo jaunt to test my fitness or clear my mind.

Lone Peak summit
There are countless other places that are equally spectacular and even more accessible. Bells Canyon is one of those places. The trailhead is about 20 minutes from our office and about 10 minutes from my home. The trail continues well past the falls and up toward Pfeifferhorn and other remote peaks and valleys.

Bells Canyon Falls
There are even more remote places just beyond the Wasatch range, most notably the Uinta Mountains. It is vastly beautiful and beautifully vast. One of my favorite places to go is the Crystal Lake Trailhead for easy access to a handful of beautiful alpine lakes (Marjorie, Island, Long, Duck, etc.).

Near Crystal Lake
Regardless of the season, the mountains of Utah are the perfect place to recreate and rejuvenate via bike, boot, hoof, ski, snowmobile, ATV, RV, car or whatever! The fact that a valley full of technology sits at the foot of the mountains means I get more time in either or both places and less time in transit. I love it! - VC

Monday, September 14, 2015

Onward to Success!

The Onward2Success Scholarship Fund was founded in the fall of 2013. It is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to making college education more accessible to deserving students with serious financial needs. I was happy to join the board for this worthy cause. 

O2S is committed to a shared prosperity for Utahns and to expanding the workforce to include more college educated and technologically-skilled candidates who are ready for the exciting new jobs coming our way . . . and not just at EMC. Over the last 18 months, scholarships have been awarded to over a dozen students each school term. For more information or to donate, please visit www.onward2success.org

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Day at Work with Robots!

EMC Utah 2015 VEX Robotics Competition
Yesterday was a great day for EMC Utah. We had a “Snow Cone Social” and VEX Robotics competition for our employees and 3 local high schools. It was a great opportunity for us to accomplish a few of the things that we’ve been focusing on this year, namely showing we care about the community in which we live and sparking conversations about opportunities for learning and growth. Three different employee teams got together and built robots using the same kits we donate to local schools. They used the same competition field and rules that the schools use informal matches. 

Snow cones for EMC employees!

The Snow cones were a big hit!

It was very exciting to see the pride that they took in their work. There was a great spirit of camaraderie and teamwork in the midst of the competition. One clear example of this is the challenge of having one robot lift another robot in a friendly way. The teams that do that get extra points. 

The VEX Competition field 

Some of the high school students that came were seeing live robots in action for the first time. They took lots of notes and videos. Davis High School actually won the VEX Robotics World Championships last year. It was great to have representation from them. Hunter High School brought several of the robots they used in last year’s competition and let others control them. Hillcrest High School had the biggest turnout of all and it was great to meet their students and feel their enthusiasm. Robots are such a great way to interact with technology because there are so many disciplines involved:
  • Strategy & design
  • Project planning & execution
  • Software development
  • Hardware engineering
  • Troubleshooting
  • Competition
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Fundraising 

Pleasant Grove (Mozy) Robotics Team
While we don’t build or even use robots in most EMC jobs, the skills learned through STEM programs like robotics are used everyday! EMC is a big promoter of other STEM programs in addition to robotics, but it is one of the most tangible and exciting ones. If you haven’t seen or heard about VEX Robotics, check out their website. If you haven’t heard about STEM Utah and the Curiosity Unleashed education campaign, you should check that out too! Thanks to everyone who participated yesterday and thanks to everyone who is supporting other STEM programs here in the Silicon Slopes of Utah! - VC 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

EMC Utah & the 2015 Salt Lake Corporate Games

We've participated in the Salt Lake County Corporate Games for the last 3 years. But this year was the best! Here are our results:
  • Gold: 1
  • Silver: 7
  • Bronze: 4
We participated in 22 different events in total. We also had four 4th place finishes. Pretty impressive! In addition to these individual events we had the following overall results:
  • Overall points: 3rd place
  • Spirit award: 1st place
  • Heart & Soul award: There is only 1 for the entire games and we won it!

While the individual team accomplishments are stupendous, I'm particularly excited about the Spirit award and the Heart & Soul one. There were over 60 large companies participating in the games, but our involvement in additional activities like "EMC Gives Back" donations to Utah Food Bank and the Red Cross Blood Drive put us on top for Heart & Soul! And check out the categories for the Spirit award. They give an indication about the involvement of others outside of the teams competing directly in the events.

Spirit award categories:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Executive Challenge
  • Employee Volunteers
  • Showcase Showdown*
  • Nominations from other companies

Following is a list of the events we participated in:
  • 3 on 3 Basketball
  • Men's Bowling
  • Women's Bowling
  • Go-Kart
  • Golf
  • Mountain Bike
  • Poker
  • Rifle Shoot
  • Co-ed Soccer 1
  • Co-ed Soccer 2
  • Pistol Shoot
  • Softball Men's
  • Softball Co-ed
  • Trap Shoot
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball Men's
  • Volleyball Co-ed
  • Kickball
  • Trivia
  • City Chase
  • Mystery Event
  • Scavenger Hunt

EMC Soccer -  2015
EMC Rifle Shoot Team 2015

EMC Golf Team 2015
The games truly showed our desire to win and be excellent at everything we do. They also showed
our diversity, teamwork, fun-loving nature, and concern for each other and the community. Thank you to all who participated, supported and were involved in any way. In particular, I want to thank Windie Darrington, Patrick Lahey, Cary Demello, Chauna Sidwell, Abagail Williams, Stephanie Hills, Katherine Ankenbruck, and Leonardo Oliveira. They were awesome! I look forward to the next games! - VC

* Showcase Showdown is the opening day "ceremonies." We had a booth introducing EMC to all the other companies who compete. Our theme was Diversity. We had a cheer, games, and handed out STEM shirts to the kids who played the game.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Making an Impact on the Silicon Slopes

On August 14th, 2015, I had the privilege of hosting U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch at the EMC Utah Center of Excellence (CoE). Senator Hatch spoke on the state of Utah as a technology leader and noted EMC’s advancements in the enterprise technology industry:

“EMC is providing the type of jobs and critical technology needed to help keep our country ahead of the technology curve. The company invests in its people and the communities in which it operates, while also providing leading solutions for Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Cybersecurity. Today’s visit to EMC’s Utah office showcased the great work that is being done to help keep our state’s technology industry at the forefront of the global economy.”

More than 1,000 EMC employees are based at the Utah Center of Excellence (CoE), working on a variety of IT-as-a-Service projects such as setting up Hadoop-as-a-Service so that customers can do faster Big Data analytics.

The CoE is right in the middle of a new tech corridor becoming known as the Silicon Slopes. Much like what exists in the Bay Area of California, but unique to our mountainous geography. Many of us believe we enjoy a higher quality of life than in California and combined with a vibrant, well-educated workforce and infrastructure investments like Google Fiber, we’re driving substantial growth in Utah’s tech sector.

EMC isn’t the only company out here either. There is also Adobe, whose Digital Marketing business is based in Utah, and IM Flash, an Intel-Micron JV that produces a vast amount of the NAND flash memory used in consumer electronics like the Apple iPhone, just to name a couple.

You can’t just show up on the Slopes and reap the benefits though. There are three areas that have been key to our success so far:
  • Government Relations – Relationships with state and local governments have been critically important. Together we have created programs like the Engineering and Computer Science Initiative that provides substantial funds to increase the number of engineering graduates from Utah universities. And when those relationships are backed by strong partnerships at the national level with people like Senator Hatch the benefits are extended to the entire tech industry. 
  • Local Industry Associations – We work closely with the Utah Technology Council, our local high-tech industry association. Together we have created programs like Curiosity Unleashed, a STEM initiative to encourage students, parents, and educators to develop skills that are in high demand in the tech industry. 
  • Higher Education Partnerships – We also have strong relationships with the three largest universities in the state:University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University. They provide continuing education to our employees and we hire many of their graduates. 

On top of this, employees are driving several other partnerships that benefit both our company and the local community, such as the working with the Utah Food Bank and the Salt Lake Valley Science & Engineering Fair.

When all of these factors come together, you get results – like the ability to expand business presence – not to mention continued attention from public figures like Senator Hatch who influence key issues like patent reform, corporate tax reform, immigration reform, and cybersecurity.

Thanks again to the Senator and all of the other partners who have been part of our journey at EMC in Utah! I hope to see you here soon on the Silicon Slopes. -VC