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100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Padmasree Warrior of Cisco

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer at Cisco.

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco
Padmasree Warrior
Chief Technology & Strategy Officer

Padmasree Warrior is charged with aligning technology development and corporate strategy to enable Cisco to anticipate, shape, and lead major market transitions. She helps direct technology and operational innovation across the company and oversees strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, the integration of new business models, the incubation of new technologies, and the cultivation of world-class technical talent. Warrior previously served as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and also co-led Cisco's worldwide engineering organization. Prior to joining Cisco in 2008, Warrior was executive vice president and CTO at Motorola.

Warrior has been widely recognized for her creative, visionary leadership. Forbes has named her one of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" for two years running. In 2007 Warrior was inducted into the Women in Information Technology International Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Cornell University and serves on the Gap Inc. Board of Directors. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Thorn (formerly DNA Foundation). Warrior holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi and a master of science degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University.

About Cisco

Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize opportunities by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the unconnected. As more people, processes, data, and things connect to the Internet, we are building a future workforce that can harness these connections – to benefit businesses, society, and the planet. STEM education is a business imperative for Cisco. Our Cisco Networking Academy® program has helped 1.2 million people worldwide obtain jobs in information and communication technology. Twenty percent of our students are female and over 51,000 military personnel have completed our courses to prepare for civilian careers once their service is over. We use our expertise, product donations, and cash grants to help nonprofits engage students and deliver STEM education effectively. As part of US2020, we’ve committed to having 20 percent of our workforce volunteering 20 hours per year as STEM mentors by 2020. Learn more:

Padmasree on Diversity and STEM

Why is STEM Education/workforce development critical to the future of our nation?

By 2018, there will be 1.2 million job openings in the United States in the fields that make up STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  However, without a major influx of talent, there will be an acute shortage of qualified applicants to fill these jobs. The simple truth is that the 21st Century workforce needs develop a new set of skills to meet the challenges before our nation.  Other nations have already embraced the challenge and are moving toward building a digital workforce. For nearly two-decades, Cisco has made it a top priority to build a talent pipeline prepared to meet these challenges.

How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?

Cisco believes that it is critical to take steps to encourage women and girls to enter STEM fields.  One of many programs that Cisco supports to meet this goal is Girls in ICT.  The Girls in ICT initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a global effort to raise awareness on empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider studies and careers in ICTs. Cisco also partners with non-profit organizations to expand STEM education opportunities to underserved communities. Mind Research’s program, for instance, helps students of all backgrounds achieve proficiency in math. 

Cisco has joined over 75 corporations to address the need for military personnel returning from war zones to secure jobs as they transition back into civilian life. Cisco’s veterans programs include Futures, Inc., the IT Training and Certification Program and a Networking Academy program for active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families.

How can we advance mentorships and apprenticeships in the STEM pipeline?

Cisco is a founding partner of US2020, an initiative that connects STEM professionals with girls, under-represented minorities and low-income students from Kindergarten through College. By 2020, Cisco has committed that 20% of our US employees will provide at least 20 hours of STEM mentoring per year. Through our work with K-12 schools across the nation, Cisco is helping to connect all classrooms in America to high speed wireless broadband within the next five years. Additionally, the Cisco Foundation and Cisco partner with nonprofit and non-governmental organizations around the world to support innovative classroom models and after-school programs to scale.  Such organizations include MIND Research Institute, Cyber-Patriot, and Citizen Schools. Cisco and the New York Academy of Sciences recently established The Global STEM Alliance to bring curriculum resources, inter-generational mentorship, and access to cutting-edge science and technology research to students around the world.

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Byron Jones of Apollo Education Group

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Byron Jones, Chief Financial Officer of the University of Phoenix, an education brand of Apollo Education Group.

Byron Jones, Apollo Education Group
Byron Jones
Chief Financial Officer, University of Phoenix
Apollo Education Group

Byron Jones was appointed Chief Financial Officer of University of Phoenix in 2013, after joining Apollo Education Group in 2012. Byron leads the finance functions for the University, working closely with Apollo Education Group leaders to provide clear oversight of its financial operations, an area that is essential to the University’s success. Byron has more than 20 years of experience in corporate and divisional finance in industries spanning from airlines to technology. He was the Chief Financial Officer at Coda Automotive, as well as Vice President of Corporate Finance at HD Supply, Inc. former wholesale distribution arm, Home Depot, a department he built from the ground up. Byron has held finance leadership roles at Delta Airlines, Cendant Corporation and Ryder Corporation. He earned his MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tuskegee University.

About the University of Phoenix

In consultation with STEM-related industry organizations and employers, University of Phoenix is identifying key STEM skills gaps and developing a portfolio of education programs and career services to help enhance our students’ workforce readiness and meet employers’ STEM talent needs. This includes degree, certificate and continuing education programs, along with professional development courses, career management tools and academic support services. University of Phoenix is establishing formal education partnerships with major industry associations to help connect its curriculum and capabilities to industry-specific needs. The University has embarked on specific initiatives with national workforce development leaders in the energy, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, criminal justice, security, healthcare and P-12 education sectors. The University recently collaborated with STEMconnector® network and U.S. News & World Report, to publish the report Growing a Strong STEM Workforce: Strategies to Meet Industry Talent Needs that identifies the educational needs for current and future STEM careers.

Byron on Diversity and STEM

Why is STEM Education/Workforce development critical to the future of our nation?

At Apollo Education Group, we work with leaders of America’s Fortune 500 companies who recognize that human capital is the equivalent of competitiveness in today’s global economy.  Our nation’s labor force represents a population that is short over 100 million years of education and lacks the skills necessary to compete in growing STEM fields. Higher education institutions are forming collaborative partnerships with corporations and industry associations to begin addressing skills gaps in areas like STEM and to scale solutions to this “skills gap” problem that has developed over decades. 

How do you believe STEM education can improve our nation’s competitiveness?

Other nations’ colleges and universities are producing graduates in STEM-related fields at a rate much faster than in the U.S. To be competitive our nation’s workforce needs to be prepared to innovate and address the complex issues of the global environment of business today. Our nation thrived in a labor-based era that was not as highly dependent on the skills needed to compete today and in the future. As an education company, we need to work with industry leaders to help provide missing skills that support our current workforce and maintain employability. The solution is long-term and building the competitive workforce of our future starts with addressing educational opportunities at all levels today. 

What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?

Senior executives need to be much more than concerned about the talent needed for their organizations to compete. They must have the ability to envision their roles as critical to addressing the skills gap in their own companies and throughout our nation. Socially responsible companies like Apollo Education Group invest philanthropic grants in programs helping our nation’s youth gain access to educational resources, and success. We’ve learned that in many economically disadvantaged communities K-12 students are lacking appropriate resources and tools for successful educational attainment in STEM fields. These investments along with support from corporate employee volunteer mentorship programs are leading to increased high school graduation rates and an upswing in youth pursuing college education in STEM related fields.  

What STEM Initiative has your company supported that you are most proud of?

I have a personal passion for the extensive work we do with minority youth who are working hard to overcome economic disadvantages. While our company is a large supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, I personally volunteer my time to serve on the local board of directors for the Phoenix Boys & Girls Clubs, and mentor young adults who need access to role models to help define their path in life. Our company funds programs to provide academic support to Club kids in a few academic areas including STEM.  For example, we are piloting a math tutoring program for Club kids who don’t have access to afterschool support in this academic area. I believe that if we can help these youth achieve success in math; they are more likely to graduate high school and pursue STEM degrees in college. Also, University of Phoenix is actively developing partnerships with Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) to strengthen the success of science and engineering students. The program design will provide 24/7 tutoring, math labs, and continuous access to content to provide resources to students at HBCUs.   

What advice do you have for minorities and women coming “up” in the system?

Aspirations to succeed have always been high in our community but the academic skills sets and resources have lagged. Those just getting started in the workplace should seek out mentors and take all opportunities to learn along the way. In turn, they need to develop the ability to share their experiences and serve as leaders or mentors to others as well.  Employees at all levels should be encouraged to participate in affinity groups, leadership programs and enrichment programs. Throughout our careers we find that even when we are serving as a mentor, we are gaining much valued perspective from others from within the organization.

The Economist's Higher Education Forum

Are universities truly preparing today's students for tomorrow's workforce? STEMconnector is proud to be a supporting association of the The Economist's Higher Education Forum. The Economist’s inaugural Higher Education Forum will address the major human capital challenges facing university and business leaders today and ask what role each stakeholder should have in improving the outlook for post-secondary schooling, its students, and the learning-to-earning pipeline in America and around the world.

Higher Education Forum 2014
Reconnecting Education to the Workforce
September 30, 2014 | Time Warner Center, New York City


8:00 am - Registration and Networking breakfast

9:00 am - Welcome and opening remarks.

  • Anne McElvoy, Public policy and education editor, The Economist

9:05 am - The state of education: an agenda for the future.

  • Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. 
  • John Prideaux, Washington correspondent, The Economist

9:30 am - Funding higher education: the costs for students, schools, and employers.

  • Alan Solomont, Dean, Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University
  • Jack Remondi, President and Chief Executive, Navient
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

10:00 am - Scaling education: can lower overhead produce higher returns?

  • Ben Nelson, Chief Executive, Minerva Project
  • Douglas Becker, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive, Laureate Education
  • Anne McElvoy, Public policy and education editor, The Economist

10:30 am - Morning Networking break

11:00 am - The Great Mismatch: creative solutions for connecting education to the workplace.

  • William Pepicello, President Emeritus, University of Phoenix.
  • Gerald Chertavian, Found and Chief Executive, Year Up
  • John Prideaux, Washington correspondent, The Economist

11:30 am - Disruptive teaching technologies: recognizing innovative credentials

  • Anant Agarwal, Chief Executive, edX
  • Hannes Klopper, Co-founder and Managing Director, iversity
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

12:00 pm - Lunch Panel: University of the future: Predicting tomorrow's labour market (Sponsored by University of Maryland University College)

  • Marie Cini, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, University of Maryland University College
  • Sydney Heimbrock, Deputy Associate Director, Employee Services, Strategic Workforce Planning and Chief Learning Officer, Office of Personal Management
  • Ahu Yildirmaz, Vice President, Market Insights and Head, ADP Research Institute
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

1:45 pm - The rise of the globalized worker: can global talent development be standardized?

  • John Sexton, President, New York University
  • Edith Cooper, Global head, Human capital management, Goldman Sachs
  • John Prideaux, Washington correspondent, The Economist

2:15 pm - One on one interview

  • Eric Spiegel, President and Chief Executive, Siemens USA
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

2:45 pm - Technical education makes a comeback: can community and technical education solve the skills gap?

  • Joerg Klisch, Vice President, Operations North America, MTU America
  • Cheryl Hyman, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor and New York bureau chief, The Economist

3:10 pm - Afternoon Networking break

3:40 pm - The Economist-Lumina Foundation Challenge

  • Doreen Amorosa, Associate Dean and Managing Director, MBA Career Center, Georgetown University
  • Jamie Merisotis, President and Chief Executive, Lumina Foundation
  • Michael Staton, Partner, Learn Capital
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

4:45 pm - The way up: democratizing opportunity through education and work

  • Josipa Roksa, Associate Director, The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Virginia
  • Pamela Thomas-Graham, Chief Marketing and Talent Officer, Credit Suisse
  • Anne McElvoy, Public Policy and Education Editor, The Economist

5:15 pm - One on one interview

  • Richard Levin, Chief Executive, Coursera
  • Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor and New York bureau chief, The Economist

5:45 pm - Closing remarks and networking reception

For more information on the program, speakers or to register for the event, delegates can visit

Join the conversation and connect with attendees and speakers on Twitter via #EducationForum.


Pearson Partners With NBC Learn to Provide Video Resources to Classrooms

This is a press release from Pearson and NBC Learn

Education Videos Designed to Teach and Engage Students Across K-12 Curriculum Areas
NEW YORK — Sept. 25, 2014 | Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announced a partnership with NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBCUniversal News Group, that will provide students and teachers exclusive access to more than 17,000 premium education videos. NBC Learn’s vast video library, including original content developed exclusively for the partnership, is now available through Pearson’s Realize, a next generation learning management system, and its Online Learning Exchange (OLE) platform, a searchable K-12 digital library of standards-based learning resources.
One of the largest news archives in the world, dating back to the 1920s, NBC Learn’s  collections are updated with current events daily, featuring stories from such celebrated programs as “NBC Nightly News,” “TODAY,” “Meet the Press” and “Dateline NBC.” NBC Learn is staffed by veteran NBC News producers, who have created scores of original stories and Town Hall events around the country, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and others. The award-winning collections include Chemistry Now, Changing Planet, Science of NFL Football, Science of the Winter Olympic Games and Finishing the Dream.
“When students can see events in the making — whether current or historical — it puts them right in the center of the learning experience, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of issues, implications and context,” said Pearson’s Managing Director for Learning Services Bethlam Forsa. “Through a shared commitment to ensuring that students and teachers have access to powerful and engaging learning resources, Pearson and NBC have forged this partnership that will provide access to a wealth of historical material as well as continue to provide extremely-timely, standards-based learning resources for K-12 students.”
“We’re proud to team with Pearson to bring decades of history alive for students by tapping into our rich archive of news reported by our world-class journalists,” said Soraya Gage, vice president and general manager, NBC Learn. “NBC Learn is committed to growing our brand in the education market through innovative partnerships like this one.”
NBC Learn’s original videos and archival news stories are generally brief — fewer than six minutes in length — allowing teachers to engage students in a short timeframe. The videos are full stories, with a beginning, middle and end, reported by some of the most famous journalists in broadcast history, including John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert and Brian Williams.
Hannan High School in Louisiana kicked off the 2014-2015 school year with a subscription to NBC Learn. Commenting on the value of primary source materials, Tim Anger, a civics teacher, said, “The NBC Learn video collection puts history-in-the-making in front of our students. Current events, such as the crisis in Ukraine or the American economic recovery, come alive when they view them through the lens of top newscasters and newsmakers, helping them gain a deeper understanding of the impact that these stories have on them both individually and on our world.”
About NBC Learn
NBC Learn is the educational arm of NBCUniversal News Group, dedicated to providing resources for students, teachers, and lifelong learners. The online resources NBC Learn has created for the education community leverages nearly 80 years of historic news coverage, documentary materials, and current news broadcasts. NBC Learn K-12 and NBC Learn Higher Education gives students and teachers access to thousands of video clips from the NBC News archives, including great historic moments–from the Great Depression to the Space Race to the latest current events. NBC Learn also offers primary source materials, lesson plans and classroom planning resources, and additional text and image resources from our content partners.
About Pearson
Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Karl Gouverneur of Northwestern Mutual

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Karl Gouverneur, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Northwestern Mutual.

Nikki Arora, Corporate Marking Officer, UST Global
Karl Gouverneur
Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Northwestern Mutual

Karl Gouverneur is vice president and chief technology officer for Northwestern Mutual, and head of the company’s enterprise technology management department.  In this role, Gouverneur oversees the company’s technology direction, innovation and governance, ensuring a reliable operations infrastructure, and managing information risk to protect the company’s brand and reputation.

Under Gouverneur’s leadership, the company has implemented a comprehensive, multi-year program to simplify its technology environment through elimination and consolidation of technology assets. In addition, Gouverner leads an award-winning technology innovation program which evaluates technology-based ideas for rapid development and funding.

Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual in 2006, Gouverneur was the vice president and chief technology officer at Seattle-based Safeco Insurance.  Before his role at Safeco, he was the chief architect at Chicago-based CNA Financial.  He began his career at Ernst & Young, where he progressed through the ranks to become a senior manager.

Gouverneur is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration – computer science.  He is currently a member of the CTO Research Board.  In the Milwaukee community, Gouverneur serves on Marquette University’s Global Sourcing Advisory Board and is the vice-chair and an active member of the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee Urban League. 

Company Synopsis

Northwestern Mutual has been helping families and businesses achieve financial security for nearly 160 years through a distinctive planning approach that integrates risk management with wealth accumulation, preservation and distribution.  With more than $217 billion in assets, $26 billion in revenues and more than $1.5 trillion worth of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual delivers financial security to more than 4.2 million clients.  Northwestern Mutual is proud to be an award-winning employer for IT professionals and actively invests in STEM initiatives in southeastern Wisconsin. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company-Milwaukee, WI and its subsidiaries.


How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?

Believing success begins in the early primary and middle school years, we partner with several programs in Southeastern Wisconsin that stress the importance of science and math for all students. Northwestern Mutual partners with nonprofit organizations, such as the Milwaukee Urban League, and several local school districts to influence and support students with not only math and science but also interpersonal skills, such as communication, negotiation, dealing with conflict, and teamwork.  At the college level, Northwestern Mutual has a strong corporate internship program to recruit students interested in pursuing careers in information technology, actuarial science, finance, accounting and other areas within the company. 

In the end, nothing happens unless we all get engaged. I believe the earlier we can encourage students, the better.  We must clearly and consistently communicate how vital science, technology and math skills are to the future of our companies.

What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?

As leaders, we must first recognize that the number of STEM-skilled graduates is diminishing in our country. The next step is to take responsibility to grow this focus and capability to maintain a global competitive advantage. Companies that are known for their investments in innovation are already making a difference, but leaders in every company should get involved in initiatives that encourage interest in STEM education tracks. Without a pipeline of STEM-educated leaders, our nation’s competitive profile will erode over time.

Where do you see the biggest area of opportunity in advancing STEM jobs/careers?

We are currently living in an era of technology that is powered by cloud, mobile and social computing. A fourth component with growing and significant opportunity is in the mining of big data and leveraging of advanced analytics. As demands continue to grow, there will very likely be a shortage of talent with the analytical skills required to create insights from data. By raising awareness of analytics as a growing field of opportunity for young talent, in particular women and minorities, we will be better positioned to capitalize on this important trend while providing meaningful careers.

Are you a mentor, and what is your view of mentorship?

I am a firm believer in mentoring and typically take it a step further with what I call “sponsorship.” Participating in a sponsorship engagement with me is more than just meeting occasionally. Together we identify activities and create action plans that will lead to self-development with the ultimate goal of not only career advancement and professional development, but also life learning and engagement. I tend to focus on sponsoring women and minorities and am currently working with five individuals. For me, it’s very personal. I benefitted from the support of a sponsor who took an interest in my career and development, so I like to pay it forward.

What Employee Resource Groups does your company have in place?

Northwestern Mutual has established several Employee Resource Groups on our Milwaukee campus as part of our diversity and inclusion journey. The groups consist of individuals with shared interests who are committed to making inroads in diverse markets and promoting business objectives. I am an executive advisor to the Hispanic ERG and am highly engaged with this group.

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Gerri Mason Hall of Sodexo

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Gerri Mason Hall, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Sodexo.

Nikki Arora, Corporate Marking Officer, UST Global
Gerri Mason Hall
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Gerri Mason Hall is senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Sodexo, Inc., with responsibility for all human resource functions for the company in the U.S. and Canada. She assumed the role in August 2014 after serving as vice president in Sodexo's Learning and Performance Organization.

Gerri joined Sodexo in 2006 leading Diversity & Inclusion in the Corporate and Government Services business. Prior to Sodexo, Gerri designed and implemented Amtrak's diversity programs as the VP Business Diversity and Strategic Initiatives. A graduate of Vassar College and the George Washington University National Law Center, Gerri held a number of appointments in both the federal and District of Columbia governments. Gerri is a member of Sodexo Women's International Forum for Talent (SWIfT) and the Executive Leadership Council.

Company Synopsis

Sodexo is committed to developing the next generation of STEM leaders. We believe there is a unique opportunity to seize upon the momentum built in recent years and to transform discourse into solutions; to mentor and prepare young people for unbridled success in tomorrow's demanding global marketplace. With that marketplace expanding at unprecedented rates and demographic shifts playing an increasing role in the American economy, it is clear that business leaders, industry experts and academics must offer a more comprehensive approach to preparing future leaders to successfully enter the workforce. In order to cultivate student interest in STEM fields, it is important to provide relevant and exciting examples of STEM job opportunities.  At Sodexo, our diversified operations offer career fields that span culinary arts to facilities management and functional disciplines from finance and human resources to safety and risk mitigation. We deliver more than 100 types of services within our portfolio -- with operations spanning industry sectors such as healthcare, education, government, aviation, and senior living.


Why is STEM education /workforce development critical to the future of our business?

STEM education and workforce development is important not only to the future of Sodexo's business; it is a critical element to the competitiveness and performance of nearly every business nationally as well as globally. It transcends political party and state lines, national borders and is a bi-partisan public-policy issue upon which most Americans generally agree. It is so critical, in fact, that the degree to which we as a nation are able to successfully load the talent pipeline with STEM educated professionals will directly affect the country's ability to flourish economically and compete on a global scale.

How will STEM personally affect the future of our business?

Sodexo strategically partners with clients to improve performance of their organizations and the well-being of their people, their customers and the local communities where we operate. A key to sustaining progress for Sodexo -- and our clients and communities -- is STEM education and engagement. We deliver more than 100 types of technical services within our portfolio -- with operations spanning industry sectors such as healthcare, education, government, aviation, and senior living. Our 133,000 employees in North America fill positions at more than 9,000 sites, making it imperative for us to ensure that future talent is sufficiently prepared to step into these challenging careers.

How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?

We need to approach this the same way we do most everything else when it comes to encouraging young people. We have to lead by example. That means holding up role models they can relate to and making the connections between academic success in STEM areas and the personal aspirations students have to lead a more fulfilling life. 

Statistics highlight the challenge: Young girls and women are less likely than their male counterparts to work in STEM fields. In fact, just 24 percent of women work in STEM fields. What's more, 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. depend upon mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills. That last statistic maps to our own business as well. If women and underrepresented minorities are to compete for such opportunities, we need to expose students to early and relevant mentoring relationships.

Where do you see the biggest areas of opportunity in advancing STEM jobs and careers?

It's actually hard to imagine a field or career with growth potential that does not offer huge opportunities for STEM educated professionals. Health care, energy, and transportation all offer clear opportunities, as do the fields of consumer electronics and web- or cloud-based enterprises.  Food science and sustainability are going to be equally important areas of focus.  The world community will need to balance its explosive population growth to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050 against food growth, production and distribution methodologies. It will be a talented cadre of next-gen STEM leaders that will help navigate these difficult issues along with the many growing environmental challenges to include water shortages and climate change.

What is your advice on using private-public partnerships to tackle our most pressing education challenges in STEM?

Private-public partnerships are essential for effectively addressing STEM. With the global marketplace expanding at unprecedented rates and demographic shifts playing an increasing role in the American economy, it is clear that business leaders, industry experts , elected officials and academics must offer a more comprehensive approach to preparing future leaders to successfully enter the workforce.

What Employee Resource Groups does your company have in place?

Employee Business Resource Groups at Sodexo are organized by employees who, based on shared experiences, join together to provide a positive forum for professional development, and input ideas that support the success of the company's diversity efforts. Sodexo currently has nine Employee Business Resource Groups that include: African American Leadership Forum (AALF), Honoring Our Nation's finest with Opportunity and Respect (HONOR), Intergenerational Network Group (i-Gen), Native American and Aboriginal Council (NAAC), Pan Asian Network Group (PANG), People Respecting Individuality, Diversity, and Equality (PRIDE), Sodexo Organization for disAbilities Resources (SOAR), Sodexo Organization of Latinos (SOL) and Women's Network Group (WiNG).

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Nikki Arora of UST Global

The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Nikki Arora, Corporate Marketing Officer of UST Global.

Nikki Arora, Corporate Marking Officer, UST Global
Nikki Arora
Corporate Marketing Officer
UST Global

Nikki Arora expertly combines strategy and creativity to help elevate the brand of UST Global as a leader in IT consulting. As Corporate Marketing Officer, she is responsible for corporate and business development through multiple branding and marketing platforms, including CSR and special philanthropic initiatives. In the IT consulting industry for more than 18 years, Nikki specializes in corporate brand-building, event management, talent acquisition management, operational management and client relationships. She has facilitated UST Global's expansion into new geographic locations by cultivating relationships with influential industry and country leaders. She is one of the founding partners of UST Global's Mexico Operations Center, working closely with the company's CEO and with former President of Mexico Vicente Fox to successfully build IT centers throughout the country.

Nikki is skilled at establishing operational excellence within culturally diverse environments, providing leadership through proactive strategic planning and by delivering value-added services globally. She began her career as a recruiter for UST Global, and advanced to Global Head for Talent Acquisition. In that role she created the Employer of Choice brand campaign, helping boost the company's recruitment initiatives. An advocate for women in STEM professions, Nikki is on the leadership committee of the Million Women Mentors Program (MWM). She's helping build a network of 1 million mentors to encourage young women interested in pursuing STEM careers. She's also been recognized as Exceptional Leader and Woman of the Year by The International Women Leadership Association and National Association of Professional Women. Nikki has a Degree in Commerce from GLS, India and a Technical Management Certification from UCLA.

Company Synopsis

UST Global is a leading provider of end-to-end IT Services and Solutions for Global 1000 companies. Headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, UST Global has operations in USA, India, Mexico, Spain, UK, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. UST Global is a technology leader with profound domain expertise across the following industries: Healthcare & Insurance, Retail, Financial Services, Transportation & Logistics, Manufacturing & Automotive, Telecommunication and Media & Entertainment. By focusing on the business model of 'fewer CLIENTS, more ATTENTION', UST Global strives for excellence in providing their clients with the best service and commitment to long-term client success. With 14,000 employees, UST Global's growth and clientele have been impressive. Please visit for more information.


Why is STEM Education/workforce development critical to the future of our nation?

STEM is the prosperity mechanism for a community and a nation. STEM occupations are the biggest job creators both in America and around the world.

Corporations are under pressure to lower costs and implement technology quickly and efficiently. There’s huge opportunity for the companies and people who can help them achieve that. But to take advantage of that demand for talent, people need the chance to develop the expertise and companies need a reliable pool of talent from which to draw. So creating a sustainable way to help people build STEM expertise is essential to our industry and to our nation’s economy.

How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation's competitiveness? 

Any nation’s competitiveness hinges on its ability to innovate, and to turn those innovations into products and services that meet real needs and can be sold in a marketplace that values them. STEM education powers innovation like nothing else.

Beyond standards, what are the first steps that we should take to curb the STEM education crisis?

Companies have a unique opportunity to enhance STEM education across the board. At UST Global, we created a strong training program to fast-track IT education to help meet our own needs for talent. We recognized that we could take this expertise in training and offer it more broadly to populations of people who might not otherwise have opportunities in STEM careers. Expanding our focus beyond just those who have already declared an interest in a STEM career opens up the possibilities for attracting new, untapped talent.

How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?

To encourage women and minorities to pursue STEM, we need to bring the opportunities to them – which means opening channels for them to get quality training and good jobs.

At UST Global, we’re tackling this head-on. We’re investing in recruiting, training and employing women from inner-cities who display the commitment to attend a community college.

We are working with local community colleges, foundations and civic organizations to identify women who have the desire and aptitude to be successful in the program. The selected women will go through intensive training on several aspects of information technology. They will be trained in advanced visualization, mobility, quality assurance, along with other aspects of information technology. We have experts, training curriculum, structure and processes to help assess and prepare the candidates.

What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?

Corporate leaders must lead the change and be the risk takers by embracing the creative STEM educational programs. We’ve learned that there’s a vast pool of talent just waiting to be tapped once we started thinking beyond the typical four-year-degree candidate. We’ve also learned that the only way to make these big programs successful is to partner with community organizations, industry leaders, other companies and even governments.

Twitter Chat - #disrupttheclassroom

@STEMconnector is hosting a Twitter chat with @MLPExp!
Thursday, October 2, 2014
11:00 AM ET - 12:00 PM ET


We're very excited to host our very first Twitter chat with the Mobile Learning Partnerships (MLP) Initiative from Innovate+Educate and the Verizon Foundation (@verizongiving)! Please join us from 11:00 AM ET to 12:00 PM ET on Thursday, October 2, 2014 to talk about the role of technology and mobile learning both in the classroom, and how it relates to STEM. While @STEMconnector will be chatting with @MLPExp, we want you to join in the action! Use the #disrupttheclassroom hashtag to let us hear your opinions and to ask questions.

Some general topics of discussion:

  • How can we use technology to spark student interest in STEM from an early age?
  • What's the best way to combine STEM concepts with technology? Technology itself is STEM!
  • Is mobile learning the future of all education? How will it impact STEM learning?
  • Are we teaching our children the connection between the devices they use and the STEM knowledge behind inventing them?

We will see you all on October 2nd!

About Innovate+Educate
Innovate+Educate is an industry-led nonprofit implementing research-based strategies to close the national skills gap and bridge the opportunity divide.  They are focused on total systemic transformation through:

  1. National policy advocacy and movement building,
  2. Boundary pushing research,
  3. Development of practical tools and services and
  4. Program and service delivery at the community level  

Through this aligned effort, Innovate+Educate is creating sustainable and scalable ecosystems that prove skills-based hiring, training and credentials open new pathways for job seekers, benefit employers and strengthen communities.


National FFA Organization membership explodes to 610,240 students

This is a press release from the National FFA Organization

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014/National FFA Organization) | Analysts forecast that the world's population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050. With global needs today to fight hunger and prepare for the expected population explosion, the industry of agriculture needs educated, skilled and passionate people dedicated to sustainability.
Today's students are answering that call, evidenced by an explosion in FFA membership throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the past year.
Membership in FFA today stands at 610,240 students up from 579,678 in 2013. Membership increased by more than 30,500 during the 2013-14 school year. The number of new, local FFA chapters throughout the country grew to 7,665.
“FFA, through agricultural education, is preparing our youth to ensure the security of our country's food, fiber and natural resources for years to come,” said National FFA Organization CEO Dr. Dwight Armstrong. “Through real-world experiences, the nation’s agriculture teachers are helping students develop the technical knowledge, skills and problem-solving capabilities to be the industry's leaders of tomorrow. FFA members will be tomorrow’s advocates for agriculture.”
The Texas FFA Association added more members than any other state, with 8,364 members. Total FFA membership in the Lone Star state stands at 103,379 with 1,021 chapters. California, with 76,470 members, is the country’s second-largest FFA association, followed by Georgia with 37,698 members, Missouri with 25,935 members and Oklahoma with 25,561 members.
Founded in 1928, the National FFA Organization’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
FFA operates at the local, state and national level. Students belong to FFA chapters organized at the local high- or middle-school level and many students continue their membership through postsecondary education in colleges, universities or technical schools until age 21. Agriculture teachers serve as chapter advisors. Chapters are organized under state FFA associations headed by a state advisor or executive secretary, often an employee of the state’s department of education. For more, visit
About National FFA Organization 
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

Conversation on Education: Technology & Learning in the 21st Century

This is an event announcement from Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center

As students head back to school this year, they hope to head back to the future of learning.  But what does the future of learning look like?   How do technology and the Internet play a role?  Are strategies such as “data-driven instruction,” “learner-centered networks,” and “online assessments” more effective than traditional learning strategies?
Please join us for a discussion where leaders in technology and education explore these questions and examine the federal programs and policies designed to help to improve the future of learning.  Programs such as E-rate and the ConnectED Initiative are bringing the promise of technology in education to the nation’s most disadvantaged communities so that all students have access to the same opportunities.  Learn about these efforts and others as we explore the future of learning.
Thursday, September 25, 2014 • 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. • Continental Breakfast Provided
Jim Kohlenberger - Moderator
President, JK Strategies and Education Superhighway
Director of the Office of Education Technology, U.S. Department of Education  
Deputy Executive Director of Government Affairs and Communications, National PTA
Project Spark Program Manager, Microsoft Studios

Follow the Discussion on Twitter:  #MSFTEdTech

RSVP: Click on the link Provided:

Event Location:
Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center 
901 K Street, NW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20001



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