STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Peggy Johnson (Qualcomm)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on October 15, 2012
Peggy Johnson serves as executive vice president and president of global market development and is a member of Qualcomm’s executive committee. Johnson is responsible for commercializing new business opportunities, including incubating early stage initiatives and developing strategic relationships for the company. Johnson previously served as president of Qualcomm Internet Services. Under her leadership, the Brew initiative was developed and commercially launched. The Brew solution pioneered the world’s first large-scale mobile app store and inspired the growth of the global ecosphere. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from San Diego State University.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
In the more than 20 years I’ve been with Qualcomm, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of wireless technologies. The mobile industry has reached an inflection point where connectivity is poised to affect traditional industries like never before. Our cell phones have become part of the largest communications platform the world has ever known. The possibility that represents to challenging issues such as education and healthcare are mind-boggling. The computing power we used to have on our desk is now in our pocket, and will increasingly be central to how we learn, work and play. Education for all, increased access to information for doctors and patients, social inclusion for remote populations, public safety, commerce, e-governance and more efficient communications are just a few of the ways wireless technologies will play a key role in the 21st century. It’s because of engineers and innovators that these achievements were realized. We need to support the STEM cause to continue to evolve the technologies that will improve our lives.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
STEM degrees have the ability and opportunity to solve larger societal and global problems. Often times, it is up to senior leaders to make that connection obvious. Two impactful ways leaders can advance STEM are to educate at an early age and encourage an entrepreneurial, pioneering way of thinking.
Starting as early as elementary school, leaders can offer priceless mentorship and encouragement to seek professional opportunities in the STEM fields. Fostering and supporting STEM educational programs through college will equip society with bright minds to solve issues taxing our society. I look forward to continuing to help develop the next generation of engineers through supporting STEM programs and organizations such as California Project Lead the Way, through my alma mater, San Diego State University, that provides local schools opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required to pursue a career in science, mathematics and engineering.
Lastly, engineers specifically are in great demand in our country and we have simply not kept up with the technical needs required by industry. Leaders can help close this gap by encouraging one very large pool of untapped talent – women. Today women make up just 12% of our graduating engineers. Increasing this percentage will go a long way towards meeting the demands.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
It is truly exhilarating to be part of a team that is continually innovating. When I was president of Qualcomm Internet Services (QIS) division, we developed and commercially launched the Brew operating system, which made the concept of useful, downloadable mobile applications and services a reality. The Brew solution (now the Brew Mobile Platform) helped developers monetize their applications, birthed the world’s first large-scale mobile app store and inspired the growth of a global ecosphere that has generated billions in revenues to date.