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 Beth McMullen, vice president of IT at Avnet, Inc.
Vice President of IT
Beth McMullen is a vice president of IT at global technology distributor Avnet, Inc. At Avnet, the IT team functions in a similar capacity to R&D, and Beth is responsible for leading the IT strategy for the company’s logistics business globally. Beth is also a member of the Avnet Executive Women’s Forum leadership team. This group provides mentoring, networking opportunities and leadership development for Avnet’s female executives. In addition to her role at Avnet, Beth is a board member for Arizona Women’s Education and Employment (AWEE), a work force development organization.
Beth has a passion for technology and nearly 20 years working in this area. She previously held global IT leadership positions with DP DHL and Arthur Andersen LLP. In addition to a master’s degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Beth holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
About Avnet, Inc.
As a Fortune 500 company with annual revenues of $27.5 billion, Avnet, Inc. is one of the largest distributors of electronic components, computer products and embedded technology serving customers globally. Avnet accelerates its partners' success by connecting the world's leading technology suppliers with a broad base of customers and providing cost-effective, value-added services and solutions. Technology is at the company’s core, from the services, products and solutions it helps bring to market to the way the company engages with customers, suppliers and employees. Additionally, Avnet partners with colleges and universities to promote STEM initiatives and help students apply what they learn in school to the real world. For example, Avnet has a competitive internship program, and it also hosts the Avnet Tech Games, an annual college technology competition that is entering its tenth year.
Beth on Diversity and STEM
How has your corporation coordinated investments in education with future workforce needs?
Avnet recognizes first-hand the continued growing needs for a workforce that is trained in the academic disciplines of STEM and 21st century skills. We understand the need for encouraging and giving hands-on experience to those who desire to enter a STEM career. Below are some highlights of Avnet’s investments:
Internships. Avnet works closely with colleges and universities to create programs that engage students with STEM and business readiness internships.
Avnet Tech Games: The Avnet Tech Games has inspired hundreds of college students to apply what they learn in school to real-world scenarios. Students compete in teams for scholarships, and Avnet has distributed nearly $300,000 in prizes and scholarship funds through this program. Additionally, it has led to curriculum changes at colleges to align classroom instruction with the skills in demand by employers. See video from this year’s event here: http://youtu.be/DEy3SZlzvSk
ASU STEM Club: As an Avnet executive, I have worked with the Women in STEM club at Arizona State University, enlisting technology leaders to participate in panel discussions focused on Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, ten female technology leaders participated in facilitated dialogs on a variety of topics, encouraging both female and male students to consider STEM careers.
Avnet Executive Women’s Forum: Avnet invests internally in the development needs of female employees, through the Avnet Executive Women’s Forum. I am proud to be a member of the leadership team for this organization, which provides networking opportunities, leadership development, and support for Avnet women executives.
Community Outreach. Avnet partners with technology firms in support of our community, such as a joint event with Intel, in support of an Arizona-based charity committed to workforce development for women and veterans.
Mentoring Program. Avnet has implemented a mentoring program for its corporate teams, such as communications, human resources, IT, and finance, and I serve as the mentor for a director on the legal team. Our discussions reinforce my belief that technology crosses all areas within an organization, and the need to have educational systems that reinforce 21st century skills.
In addition to these programs and initiatives, Avnet is also helping bring technology and digital learning to classrooms, which is a core element of the 21st century classroom. For example, one of our business units introduced the 1:1 Learning System – Chromebook™, which targets the growing need among school districts to more effectively make the connection between technology in the classroom and learning efficacy.
What is your advice to those involved in promoting STEM education?
STEM education should not be confined to science, technology, engineering, and math. Leadership, managerial, critical and creative thinking, and communications skills are also important, and need to be nurtured and cultivated. Also, it is vital that we encourage students to challenge the status quo, which will lead to innovation and an increase in diversity.