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100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Anne Roby of Praxair

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 STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Anne Roby, senior vice president at Praxair, Inc.

Anne Roby, Praxair

Anne Roby
Senior Vice President
Praxair, Inc.

Anne Roby was named senior vice president in 2014, responsible for Global Supply Systems, R&D, Global Market Development, Global Operations Excellence, Global Procurement, Sustainability and Safety, Health and Environment. Roby joined Praxair in 1991 as a development associate in the company's R&D organization.

She has a long track record of supporting women in the workforce and STEM education. She oversees Praxair’s Skills Pipeline program, the company’s multifaceted approach to help address the growing need for skilled workers in today’s global economy. She is also regularly involved in TechSavvy, an annual conference designed to expose young women in middle school to the opportunities and careers in STEM fields through educational and fun hands-on activities. Additionally, Roby launched a series of Praxair Women in Leadership forums globally and is the Executive Sponsor of Diversity at the company.

Roby earned a bachelor's degree from Villanova University and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. She holds four patents for industrial gas applications.

About Praxair, Inc.

Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 250 company with 2013 sales of $12 billion, is the largest industrial gases company in the Americas and one of the largest worldwide. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric, process and specialty gases and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technologies are making the planet more productive by bringing efficiency and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and many others.

Named by Newsweek as one of the world’s greenest companies in 2014, Praxair was also named in CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens list and is the only U.S. chemical company selected for 11 consecutive years to the prestigious Dow Jones World Sustainability Index. In 2013, Praxair was listed in the Global Carbon Disclosure Index for the 6th consecutive year, one of only four companies in the world to have this distinction.

Anne on Diversity and STEM

Why is STEM education and workforce development critical to the future of our nation?

As a leading industrial gases company, competing successfully in a global economy requires a diverse workforce that is well-educated in STEM. A strong STEM education provides students with a solid foundation to pursue many different careers. Excelling in math and science requires strong analytical and critical thinking skills – both essential to the future of our country as the challenges we face become more complex.

The U.S. is currently facing a serious shortage of STEM graduates – both male and female. I recently read that fewer than 40% of students who enter college intend to major in a STEM field. As a global employer of STEM professionals in most areas of our business, we continue to face increasing challenges recruiting top STEM performers. Supporting STEM education is critical to our long-term success.

What do we need in the U.S. to continue to be at the top of global innovation?

In order to maintain this competitive advantage, we must continue to invest in STEM education and encourage high school and college students to jump into these creative and fun fields. We must re-build our pipeline of domestic talent by modernizing our programs and strengthening their foundation.

Many of our female and minority middle and high school students have not had exposure to the potential of STEM careers. I didn’t hear the term “chemical engineer” until I was in college. I had no idea what an engineer did because it was never suggested as a potential career path and it didn’t seem viable for me. However, while participating in a Work-Study program in the chemical lab at school, I came to learn much more about the types of problems that chemical engineers help to solve. I was attracted to the creativity and innovation that was possible in an engineering career. We need to provide more women and minorities with exposure to these exciting careers and ensure that they have the tools needed to excel in them.

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

Having seen women and minorities drowned out by the majority, I recognize the need for mentors to show diverse employees the ropes to ensure that their voices are heard. Throughout my career I have been a formal and informal mentor to many people and have benefited from mentoring relationships myself. Mentoring isn’t always a formal program or process; sometimes it’s about identifying and developing talent throughout your organization and then reaching out to help them get the exposure they deserve.

I really like a quote from Michelle Obama, who at the 2011 National Mentoring Summit said, “We should always have three friends in our lives — one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we've cleared the way.” Every leader in an organization should be reaching back and bringing the next generation of leaders up through the ranks.

Blending Art With Mathematics: Explore the Beauty at the Festival’s X-STEM Symposium!

This is a post in our ongoing coverage of USA Science & Engineering Festival's X-STEM Extreme STEM Symposium- April 28, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC.

Art and mathematics? The connection between the two are closer than what many educators once believed. At the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s X-STEM Symposium in April, prepare to be captivated as Satyan Devadoss, a leading mathematics professor from Williams College, demonstrates how he blends concepts of algebra and geometry with art to make lofty principles of math come alive for students! He is just one of many exciting innovators you’ll meet at X-STEM as they bring the world of technology and science careers to life through unforgettable all-day experience of workshops and live demonstrations. Be there! Tickets are limited, and going fast, so register NOW!

X-STEM Speaker Profile:
Dr. Satyan Devadoss
Blending Mathematics With Art and Design to Help Students 'Interpret and Transform the World Around Them'

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Anish Rajparia of ADP

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 STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Anish Rajparia, president, major account services and ADP Canada at ADP.

Anish Rajparia, ADP

Anish Rajparia
President, Major Account Services and ADP Canada
ADP

Anish Rajparia is President of Major Account Services, which focuses on businesses with 50 to 1,000 clients, and ADP Canada. He was previously President of ADP’s Small Business Services, TotalSource®, and Retirement Services businesses. Anish joined ADP as Vice President of Business Development, and was rapidly promoted to Senior Vice President, Employer Services Group Strategy and Marketing. During his tenure in these roles, he was integral to developing overall strategy, identifying viable acquisitions and alliances, and driving various marketing initiatives and external communications.

Before joining ADP, Anish was the co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Parlo, Inc., an e-learning company. Prior to Parlo, he served as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he advised financial services, technology and consumer organizations on strategy, marketing, operations and acquisitions. Anish’s career began at Xerox Business Services with various positions in sales, pricing and marketing.

Anish holds a master of business administration degree from the Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Gujarati.

About ADP

With more than $12 billion in revenues and 65 years of experience, ADP® (Nasdaq: ADP) serves approximately 637,000 clients in more than 125 countries. As one of the world's largest providers of business outsourcing and Human Capital Management solutions, ADP offers a wide range of human resource, payroll, talent management, tax and benefits administration solutions from a single source, and helps clients comply with regulatory and legislative changes, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ADP's easy-to-use solutions for employers provide superior value to companies of all types and sizes. ADP is also a leading provider of integrated computing solutions to auto, truck, motorcycle, marine, recreational vehicle, and heavy equipment dealers throughout the world. For more information about ADP, visit the company's website at www.ADP.com.

Anish on Diversity and STEM

How do you incorporate your STEM education in your role as the president of a business division?

Technology and innovation are keys to differentiating our business, which is in the rapidly growing and complex Human Capital Management industry. Therefore, I prioritize spending meaningful time with technology and products and understanding what my company has to offer versus what the competition is doing, from the perspective of our clients and channel partners. As I try to identify ways we can be different, innovative, and simpler than the competition, it’s enormously helpful to have a STEM background, and I draw on it every day.

Analytics and business intelligence are also very important to understanding the underlying dynamics and trends in a business and its market. Having a strong mathematical foundation is very helpful in quickly extracting key information from the numbers and knowing how to apply them in making strategic decisions.

Lastly, technology is also now very much a part of automating our client service and implementation functions. For ADP, there is nothing more critical because our solutions have to work for every employee of each client’s business, whether that client has one employee or tens of thousands of employees. We are responsible for paying 34 million people around the world and administering benefits to 15 million people. The technology, both client-facing and internal, has to be solid to take on that kind of responsibility.

As a diverse corporate leader in a company with a strong technology base, what is your view of the importance of diversity in tech?

Diversity is absolutely critical and this extends to backgrounds, knowledge, and functions. It is especially important to innovation – bringing ideas from various viewpoints to bear. I was raised in the religion of Jainism, which espouses anekāntavāda, a belief that a multiplicity of viewpoints is essential, and that no one point of view is the absolute truth. With this foundation I have always believed that things are made better when we include multiple perspectives

What role do you see for STEM education and workforce development in our nation’s future?

STEM education has been phenomenal – just look at the accomplishments and reputations of schools like MIT, Stanford, RPI – and of course my alma mater, Duke! Perhaps even more important is how STEM graduates have applied their educations to innovation for the betterment of the world. This has been the key to the nation’s rise and will be the key to keeping it globally competitive.

Increased investment is needed for STEM education in the U.S. The trend seems to be toward the opposite, with less emphasis on mathematics and smaller budgets for computers in public elementary schools. This needs to be reversed if we are going to maintain the nation’s role as a major innovator and engine of commerce.

Our schools could also use more investment to promote the STEM fields to children, especially girls, to create more interest in pursuing futures in STEM. As the father of two girls (ages 10 and 7), I can see that even today girls receive less encouragement to pursue STEM, despite the existence of initiatives like Girls Who Code.

What area of STEM are you most passionate about?

Mathematics, as it is the foundation of all of the STEM fields. To paraphrase Galileo, the universe is written in mathematical language, so if you don’t understand mathematics you can’t comprehend the universe. This is especially true for science and engineering, and I think it’s true for business as well – not just being able to read a balance sheet but the ability to think in mathematical terms and apply this thinking to solving problems.

If you’re in a negotiation or in competition for a business deal and you’re the only person with a math background, I give you very good odds of coming out ahead the majority of the time. When the makers of “The Matrix” wanted to show Neo’s consciousness breaking through, they did it by depicting reality as a stream of numbers that only he could see. I’m still trying to get to that level!

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools partner on education technology assessment, strategy

The following is a press release from PRNewswire.

In a unique partnership between two of the state's largest education systems, the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) today announced they are collaborating on an assessment aimed at building a comprehensive technology strategy for one of the state's largest K-12 school districts.
 
Through this partnership, leaders from the University will provide insights and industry best practices for MPS leaders as they work to align and optimize the academic, administrative and information technology systems serving the district's more than 35,000 students and 6,000 plus staff members.
 
"Minneapolis students must graduate ready for college and career with the knowledge and skills to thrive in the 21st century," said Robert Doty, chief operating officer. "It's a vision that is built on our commitment to student success, and enabled, from the start, by effective and efficient technology. We thank the University for another great partnership that will benefit our schools and students."
 
Through this effort, a team from the University's Office of Information Technology will work closely with district administrators, IT leaders, and others to conduct a comprehensive review of the district's technology systems. This review will focus on six key information technology areas: user support, governance, budget and finance, organizational effectiveness, technology infrastructure and enterprise information systems.
 
The assessment is scheduled to be complete in the next several weeks, with recommendations delivered to district leaders this month.
 
The effort reflects the University's commitment to engaging in collaborative partnerships with organizations across the state to drive new insights, discoveries and excellence in education.
 
Since 2012, the University has taken significant steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the core technology systems serving its nearly 100,000 students, faculty members and staff. As part of its ongoing focus on improving operational efficiency, the University later this year will implement a comprehensive upgrade to its core education, administrative and information technology systems.
 
"We've made tremendous progress with the core technologies driving the academic mission of our institution," said Scott Studham, the University's vice president and chief information officer. "We look forward to sharing our learnings with district leaders, and to doing our part to support fellow educators in our local community."
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Nepris Connects STEAM Professionals to Schools in the Linked Learning Alliance

The following is a press release from PRWeb.

Schools in Porterville Unified, Long Beach Unified and Oakland Unified school districts in the Linked Learning Alliance are receiving full access to Nepris— a cloud-based platform connecting STEAM (science, technology, engineering, performing arts and math) professionals with teachers and their students—thanks to a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. Nepris makes it possible for teachers to have online, interactive sessions between students and professionals so that the students can learn first-hand about STEAM.
 
“This grant brings Nepris to dozens of California schools and will connect hundreds of students with subject matter experts and professionals from right next door or from across the globe,” said Sabari Raja, CEO and founder of Nepris. “We are pleased to join the Linked Learning Alliance in inspiring students to dream big and achieve great things.”
 
“The Linked Learning Alliance brings meaningful learning experiences to students so they will be thinking ahead to college and career,” said Susan Benz, manager of career readiness for Oakland Unified School District. “Nepris opens a whole new horizon for our students, encouraging them to reach beyond what they might have thought was possible for their lives. Our teachers will love that Nepris does this without being a complicated process or a burden on an already packed curriculum.”
 
Teachers use Nepris to request speakers or mentors who will talk with their students while exciting them about careers in science, engineering, technology, performing arts and math. By managing the end-to-end process starting with matching professionals’ skills to teachers’ needs and then hosting the sessions, Nepris allows professionals and companies to manageably and effectively reach out and interact teachers and their students.
 
Professionals and educators can see archived sessions or enroll at Nepris.com. Companies can sponsor teachers, schools or districts. Individual teachers from elementary, middle or high schools can sign up for a free trial at any time.
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Ritankar Das: Just One of Many Visionaries You’ll Meet at the X-STEM Symposium

This is a post in our ongoing coverage of USA Science & Engineering Festival's X-STEM Extreme STEM Symposium- April 28, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC

Gifted in science since their early years, some children can accurately be called wunderkind. Nineteen-year-old Ritankar Das is such an achiever. Now a Ph.D. student, he graduated from UC Berkeley in just 3 years with a double science major, and at the age of just 16 launched a global effort to motivate disadvantaged youths in STEM, which now reaches 75 million people! Ritankar is just one of many fascinating visionaries you’ll meet at the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s X-STEM Symposium next April -- an unforgettable all-day event of workshops, live demonstrations and other interactions by STEM notables, bringing innovation and science careers up close and personal for students and other visitors. Tickets are going fast, so register today!

X-STEM Speaker Profile:
Ritankar Das
Chairman, See Your Future
USA Science & Engineering Festival Youth Advisory Member

100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Larry Quinlan of Deloitte

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 STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Larry Quinlan, global chief information officer at Deloitte.

Larry Quinlan, Deloitte

Larry Quinlan
Global Chief Information Officer
Deloitte

Larry Quinlan is a principal at Deloitte—one of the world’s largest professional services organizations, with over 200,000 people in more than 150 countries around the world. He serves as the Global Chief Information Officer and has responsibility for all facets of technology including strategy, applications, infrastructure, support, and execution. In this role, he also leads the worldwide technology organization.

Larry has been with Deloitte since 1988 and has served in a variety of leadership roles, including Global CIO for Deloitte Consulting LLP and National Managing Principal for Process Excellence. Larry holds an MBA from Baruch College, City University of New York and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the West Indies.

About Deloitte

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 200,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence. Within Deloitte’s talent competency model, STEM skills are emphasized as critical to serving clients.

Larry on Diversity and STEM

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

Simply put, STEM is a game changer—technology and innovation are and will continue to be key drivers for economic growth and jobs. Today’s fast-changing technology landscape underscores the importance of having a skilled, adaptable, and agile workforce that can help organizations not only stay one step ahead, but also to thrive and evolve. Investing in STEM education for students as well as existing workforce talent will create and sustain important and lucrative educational and careers that are critical to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.

What do corporations need to do to create more STEM careers and fill existing jobs?

STEM careers are already in demand by businesses globally, yet there’s a consistent shortage in the talent pipeline. The challenge for businesses is attracting and retaining the talent needed to fill the jobs—in fact, as early as 2018, the nation will face a skills shortage of 230,000 STEM professionals. Deloitte is aware of the importance of investing in STEM education and talent development in order to help businesses thrive in a fast-changing technology landscape. We are investing in developing the next generation of STEM talent because we believe that businesses ignore it at their own peril.

Businesses should make STEM skills a focus of their recruitment efforts. STEM-related positions are significant components of Deloitte’s talent acquisition strategy—in FY13, STEM hiring was up 15% over FY12, and we saw that growth trend continue into FY14. Corporations also need to develop programs and initiatives to increase the number of women and minorities within STEM careers. Women and minorities comprise 70% of U.S. college students, but only 45% receive undergraduate degrees in STEM disciplines. Mentoring and support programs can help.

Retaining existing STEM talent is also key for corporations. Deloitte has a vested interest in both hiring from the outside and growing our own talent in order to meet the demands of fast-changing technology landscape. A key component of our talent acquisition and retention strategy is our large-scale, robust mentoring program that advances the STEM skillsets of our professionals via a combination of experienced leadership and the latest technology. And within Deloitte’s talent competency model, STEM training is emphasized as critical to serving clients.

Leaders are in great demand as business builders and role models. What advice do you have for minorities and women coming “up” in the system?

I frequently have the opportunity to meet with students and young professionals, and I always take advantage of that face time to explain the tremendous, fast-growing career opportunities in STEM fields available to them. STEM is a game-changer for all of us; businesses should take the lead in showing students how their education can be applied to real-life STEM career opportunities—especially for women and minorities, who are frequently underrepresented in STEM fields.

Additionally, I always encourage young professionals and students to seek out mentors. Mentorship programs can play a significant role in attracting students to STEM careers and offer tremendous value to those “coming up” in the system. Businesses should take the opportunity to provide the next generation of talent with real-life examples and role models is key to nurturing an interest in STEM fields – it’s a mutually beneficial investment for businesses, who can give back to their communities as well as create a natural pipeline of future workers.

Arizona SciTech Festival Launches Annual Celebration of Science and Technology in Arizona

This is a press release from Arizona SciTech Festival and the Arizona Commerce Authority

Festival Represents Statewide Collaboration of Businesses, Educators and Community Partners Showcasing Innovation in Arizona and Career Pathways for Tomorrow’s Workforce

PHOENIX (February 11, 2015) | Arizona’s largest celebration of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) is here! The Arizona SciTech Festival, anchored at the Arizona Commerce Authority, in collaboration with additional foundational partners including the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), Arizona Science Center, Arizona State University, Arizona Technology Council Foundation, and The University of Arizona today announced the launch of its 4th annual celebration of science and technology that runs throughout Arizona now to March 31.
 
This year, Arizona’s city and town mayors joined with business, community and education leaders for the 2015 Festival launch event. The Festival partnered with Arizona’s Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona to coordinate linkages to statewide regional partners. Through a live video teleconference format, regional partners at multiple sites around the state provided an overview of their planned activities and how the Festival is important to business and talent growth in their communities.
 
The 2015 SciTech Festival is a statewide collaboration of 45 Arizona communities conducting events showcasing science, technology and innovation in Arizona. More than 500 organizations will be leading over 800 interactive events in February and March. Click to see the 2015 full listing of events and the annual program with more than 750,000 highlights.
 
“In its fourth year, the Festival has grown tremendously to more than 800 events highlighting the science and innovation across Arizona, as well as career pathways in these critical occupational areas,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our successful engagement with the business community, and continued collaboration with public and community partners in these efforts, is essential to developing a sustainable pipeline of future talent supporting Arizona’s ongoing workforce needs.”
 
“Cox is proud to be a part of the SciTech Festival for the fourth year,” said Susan Anable, Vice President of Cox Communications-Southwest. “This event celebrates our state’s leadership in science, technology and innovation, and offers students and families a wide variety of events that will open up their minds.”
 
“The Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona’s universities are working to increase the number of graduates in high-demand fields such as science, technology, math and engineering,” said Eileen I. Klein, Arizona Board of Regents President. “These fields are increasingly important in a knowledge-based economy, and students who graduate with STEM degrees will be equipped with the knowledge to address issues facing our world while ensuring that Arizona meets workforce demands now and in the future.”
 
According to ABOR, degrees awarded by Arizona Universities in high-demand fields including STEM careers, health professions and other fields have shown significant growth in recent years from 4 percent in the 2009-10 academic year to 47 percent in 2013-14. By the 2019-20 academic year, ABOR expects Arizona to be at 100 percent in producing graduates to meet the needs of high-demand fields.
 
The Arizona SciTech Festival was initiated to support quality education, a qualified workforce and to identify projected needs for emerging and fast growing job sectors in Arizona’s economy.
 
For more about the Arizona SciTech Festival, visit: www.azscitech.com.

 

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100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM - Sandy Price of Sprint

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 STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Sandy Price, senior vice president of human resources at Sprint.

Sandy Price, Sprint

Sandy Price
Senior Vice President of Human Resources
Sprint

Sandy Price was named senior vice president of human resources for Sprint in May 2006, and is responsible for all human resource initiatives, including compensation and benefits, staffing and employee relations, learning and development, talent management, and flight operations. Previously, Sandy served as senior vice president designee for the human resources, communications and brand management functions of the Sprint Local Telephone Division (LTD) as the organization prepared for its divestiture from Sprint in 2005 and subsequently became EMBARQ (now CenturyLink).

Sandy joined Sprint in 1993, serving a variety of human resources roles. Before coming to Sprint, she was a principal in the Blue Valley School District (Overland Park, Ks.) and the Jenks Public Schools District (Tulsa, Ok). She has a B.A. in special education, a M.A. in learning disabilities and school administration, and completed doctoral coursework in policy and administration at the University of Kansas.

About Sprint

Sprint (NYSE: S) is a communications services company that creates more and better ways to connect its customers to the things they care about most. Sprint served more than 54 million customers as of June 30, 2014 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading no-contract brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint as the most improved U.S. company in customer satisfaction, across all 43 industries, over the last six years. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America in 2011, 2012 and 2013. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

Sandy on Diversity and STEM

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

Strong foundational STEM education is critical to many career paths and to being an integrated contributor to society. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that in the next decade, 80 percent of jobs will require STEM skills. However, only 16 percent of college students pursuing bachelor degrees will be specializing in STEM fields.

Thus, it is important that we work as a nation to expose children to experiences and opportunities during elementary and middle school. This will cultivate an interest in these areas and encourage young people to pursue a STEM career path. In addition, STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases technical literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy.

What is the STEM initiative that your company has supported are you most proud?

I am most proud of the STEM initiatives that Sprint supports where we not only make financial contributions but harness the knowledge and experience of our employees to help young people pursue interests in STEM fields. In our hometown of Kansas City, Sprint provides support for Project Lead the Way and the Kansas City STEM Alliance, which supports FIRST Robotics. Project Lead The Way’s comprehensive curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving. The hands-on project based program engages students on multiple levels and provides them with a foundation for college and career success in STEM-related fields. US FIRST is a national program that partners locally with companies and schools to create challenging after school activities that give students ages 9-18 an exciting platform for discovering career opportunities in STEM. One of the robotics-based competitions is FIRST Robotics which offers the technology leaders of tomorrow a chance to demonstrate their skills, imagination and gracious professionalism. Through several internal programs, Sprint employees donate their time and expertise to both the Academic Project Lead the Way program, and the extracurricular FIRST Robotics programs. These partnerships provide students real world applications to what they learn in school.

Leaders are in great demand as business builders and role models. What advice do you have for minorities and women coming “up” the system?

As a young leader, I was concerned about earning the respect of direct reports who were, in most cases, more experienced than me. As my career progressed, I found myself in positions of increasing responsibility and scope and was asked to lead functions that were not necessarily my core competency. I would find myself thinking I might not have what was needed to succeed. Over time, I learned that my concerns about my age, gender, and subject matter expertise were misplaced and counterproductive. I became confident in my ability to ask questions, learn quickly, and solve problems. I learned that it is possible to be both gracious and decisive.

With each new opportunity, I shared my strengths with my colleagues and built high-performing, diverse teams that possessed competencies I did not have. I built strategic partnerships and asked for help from trusted advisors. I learned that, as Max Depree writes, “leadership comes from abandoning oneself to the strengths of others while shaping a compelling vision for the future.” I learned to have fun at work and that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t!) do everything myself. I developed a support structure to help me manage my professional life, personal life, the needs of my family, my commitments to the community, and my health. Through this experience, the advice I give to young leaders is to dream big, work hard, and be brave. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, surround yourself with strong, talented people you can learn from, and most of all, have fun while doing it.

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

I am a beneficiary of the accomplishments of many successful women over the years, including those of former Sprint executive, Karen Krepps who was one of my early mentors. Because of leaders like Karen, women today have an opportunity to not only succeed but have a great impact in their professions and in their communities. With opportunity comes responsibility. Karen reminded me to consistently deliver results, to exercise influence, to take on hard challenges, and to actively mentor others. I endeavor to do these every day.

Mentoring women is important. I mentor female leaders assuming new executive roles and newly graduated women just beginning their careers. I also work with women returning to school or the workplace later in life. They often need support in procuring financial aid and mastering essential academic and workplace skills. Finally, I mentor promising young high school women who are underprivileged. It is essential they have an advocate who encourages them and helps them understand their potential.

At the Festival’s X-STEM Symposium: Exploit Energy at the Nanoscale With Researcher Bara Cola

This is a post in our ongoing coverage of USA Science & Engineering Festival's X-STEM Extreme STEM Symposium- April 28, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC

Ask many high-tech experts and they will tell you that nano-engineered energy technology is among the next exciting frontiers.  At the forefront of this field is Bara Cola, Ph.D., a young nanobiotechnology researcher at Georgia Tech University, who has already been honored by President Obama for achievements in exploiting energy transport processes at the nanoscale. Bara is just one of many fascinating visionaries you’ll meet at the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s  X-STEM Symposium next April -- an unforgettable all-day event of workshops, live demonstrations and other interactions by STEM notables, bringing innovation and science careers up close and personal for students and other visitors.  Tickets are going fast, so register today!

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