Diversity of Thought Encouraged, Celebrated at Women Tech Awards

Salt Lake City—As Utah’s tech industry continues its rise, diversity of thought is more important than ever. The Women Tech Council, committed to increasing the presence of women and girls in STEM fields, held their tenth annual awards Friday to highlight the accomplishments of women professionals in tech fields.

“Providing visibility for women in technology is an important catalyst for expanding networks, providing new opportunities and changing organizational cultures,” said Cydni Tetro, Women Tech Council president. “By amplifying the impact these women have in technology through our awards and inclusion of industry leaders such as Safra Catz, we promote their contributions through a platform that showcases and amplifies their impact in the tech community at large.”

The keynote speech at the awards ceremony, given by Catz, focused on how entrepreneurs and leaders in the state can help create further success for themselves and their companies. Catz, who is CEO of Oracle Corporation, emphasized the importance of diversity in the technology landscape.

“Technology in particular is very, very difficult, because you are often recognizing and solving problems others don’t even know are out there. That’s why you need folks with all different points of view,” said Catz. “If you’re trying to solve or see something when you’re all exactly the same, you’re not going to recognize the solution. In tech in particular, having everyone participate is critical.”

The tech giant arrived in Utah in 2014 when it created a customer software-support center in Sandy. Catz said the company has deeply enjoyed having a hub in the Beehive State as the tech industry has continued to differentiate itself here. She told the businesspeople and entrepreneurs in the audience to look at Oracle’s success—the company is now the second-largest software maker after Microsoft—and realize it could be their own stories, as well.

“I think Oracle’s story is the story of other successful companies that recognized and saw a future that was different than just what’s been done in the past, and went ahead and created their own successes by courageously moving to what no one else thought was possible,” she said.

Catz referenced Josh James, CEO of DOMO, as she said company founders should realize they are not merely managers, but rather people who “don’t think outside of the box—they don’t see the box at all.” She cautioned companies to realize the difference between size and scale, and to manage growth through “the inevitable ups and downs of the business cycle.”

Innovation and tenacity, she continued, are crucial to the success of any company—even if your competitors or contemporaries might think what you’re doing is crazy.

“You have to ask yourself, if everybody is running left—maybe there’s an opportunity if I have a little bit of courage and I run right. As a historical matter, there are very few examples where second place players have leapfrogged number one. It’s very unusual. If you just keep following number one, I guarantee you you’ll never become number one. You have to completely change the game, figure out what your strengths are, and go with them,” said Catz. “You should expect that those with a vested interest in the current, conventional wisdom, are going to call you an idiot. Well, let me tell you, you’re an idiot until you’re a genius. … Ignore the noise. If it’s obvious to you but nobody else sees it, embrace it, do it.”

Catz continued: Ask questions. Don’t be a “dog watching television during a meeting.” Work hard. Trust yourself when you think something is gibberish or makes no sense. Hold fast onto your integrity. And remember: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

“What you really need for success is courage. Courage to see things different and follow them,” she said. “It is hard work. There is no substitute for hard work. It is common sense, and it is integrity, and wonderful teammates.”

The Women Tech Award honorees were all introduced by other leaders within the tech community, and Tetro was surprised with a newly-created Legacy Award, created for her by O.C. Tanner.

The 10th Women Tech Award Recipients:

Founder: Kim Jones, verite

Student Pathway: Tammy Platero, Weber State Uniersity

Professional Excellence: Dasha Kadulova, USANA Health Sciences,

Social Leadership: Lindsey Kneuven, Pluralsight

Growth Leadership: Rachel Hofstetter, Chatbooks

Innovator: Michelle Jackson, Orbital ATK

Product Excellence: Mariah Hay

Technology Leadership: Ashley Dreier

Legacy Award: Cydni Tetro