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I recently had the opportunity to speak to Jocelyn DeGance Graham, founder of CloudNOW, a nonprofit executive consortium of the leading women in cloud computing. CloudNOW is hosting their “Legacy Award” program at Cloud Connect Chicago and hosted their first annual “Top 10 Women in Cloud” awards program at Cloud Connect Santa Clara.  Below is a recap of our conversation.

Cloud Connect: When was CloudNow founded?

Jocelyn: We founded CloudNow almost a year ago – August 15 of last year.

CLOUD CONNECT: What is CloudNow’s mission and objective?

Jocelyn: The overarching mission is to promote women in technology.  How we go about that is a little bit different than the traditional women in tech organizations. We’re founded on the principal of applied excellence. In that in working together in community through special interest groups producing things like position papers, whitepapers,  and real content that we contribute to the cloud conversation in that way. We take that information and we’re very public about it, and we share out in major forums such as Cloud Connect. The differentiator is really that we believe that promoting women in technology can’t be an exercise done in isolation without the assistance of our male colleagues and the industry as a whole. We’ve done everything we can to really make this an accessible organization and an accessible brand. We believe that by coming out of the cocoon of women only and making a real contribution to the cloud conversation, that we will be able to support our mission by fulfilling those goals.

CLOUD CONNECT: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, recently became the 1st woman on the company’s board of directors. What impact do you think it will have on other technology focused companies to increase female board representation?

Jocelyn:  Obviously we’re thrilled about it.  But it also serves to highlight the difference between general IT and cloud companies.  What we’re seeing is that cloud is actually more open and receptive to women accelerating their careers and succeeding than traditional IT. Cloud frees you up from infrastructure costs. It frees you up from having to seek funding from other sources. It frees you up from the “good old boys” network and how it used to be to start a business. Cloud itself is a democratization of starting a business and we believe that we’re actually seeing that translated into the behaviors and philosophies of the companies that are heavily engaged with cloud, either as a part of their portfolio or as a cloud pure play. I would say, the appointment of Sheryl Sandberg is further evidence that the cloud is the place to be for women in tech careers.

Cloud Connect: CloudNow held their first Annual CloudNow Awards at Cloud Connect Santa Clara in February. Can you talk about how the program came together and who were some of the women that were acknowledged at the awards?

Jocelyn: We wanted to have a forum to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of women in cloud. The women that were recognized during that session were:

  1. Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco
  2. Lauren States, CTO of Cloud Computing, IBM
  3. Vanessa Alvarez, Analyst, Infrastructure and Operations, Forrester Research
  4. Jamie Dos Santos, President of Terremark, a Verizon company
  5. Jill T. Singer, CIO of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
  6. Becky Swain, Co-founder of the Cloud Security Alliance
  7. Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Analyst, F5 Networks
  8. Ellen Rubin, Founder of CloudSwitch, Terremark, a Verizon company
  9. Dawn Leaf, Senior Executive for Cloud Computing, NIST
  10. Jamie Erbes, Cloud Labs Director, HP Fellow, HP

We had a wide reach of women from industry and government sectors. It was really an exciting list – especially for the inaugural ceremony. We weren’t quite sure if we were going to be able to get the word out to all of the key candidates we were hoping to get applications from. The process was that the person had to be peer nominated, followed by an invite to apply, a review of their application and then finally making the announcement. We weren’t looking for any kind of figure heads or people that weren’t actually familiar with CloudNOW.

Cloud Connect: Will you be hosting another awards program at Cloud Connect Chicago?

Jocelyn: Yes. We are definitely going to be doing a follow up. After “Top 10 Women in Cloud”, we decided that the next step was to honor women with lifetime achievements in cloud. We’re calling it the “Legacy Award Recipients”. The criteria is based on lifetime achievement in IT, the pioneering of cloud, philanthropic endeavors (such as mentoring or other socially just causes or responsibilities) and finally support of CloudNow as an organization and use of CloudNow as a platform. We’ll be naming a small list, somewhere between one to three women for our fist Legacy Awards and induct them into our hall of fame.  

Cloud Connect: Why do you think is Chicago is a good demographic to bring Cloud Connect and the CloudNOW program?

Jocelyn: I think it’s wonderful that Cloud Connect is looking beyond Silicon Valley. Realizing that innovation, because we talked earlier that cloud is a democratizing platform, innovation is now happening everywhere – in all parts of the country and all parts of the world. It’s time to start highlighting areas beyond Silicon Valley and actually seeing what other people are doing in major centers like Chicago and the mid-west.

Cloud Connect: How can women in technology join and contribute to CloudNow?

Jocelyn: The best way to contribute to CloudNow, is to go to our website, sign up, select a Special Interest Group (SIG), and contribute through a working group or committee.  We also welcome corporate sponsorship from companies that are serious about supporting diversity, ensuring the richness of different points of view, and promoting a mission that serves everyone’s interests.

Cloud Connect: Thanks so much for your time.

Jocelyn: My pleasure. I’m looking forward to Cloud Connect Chicago.

You can speak with Jocelyn and other cloud leaders at Cloud Connect Chicago. Register by August 10 with priority code RFPQCH04 to save $400 on Platinum or Conference passes.

Diversity is an important part of the corporate platform. Help spread this message by supporting the Cloud Network of Women.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter for inside Cloud Connect updates.

Cheers,

Jason

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