As Vice President of Innovation Programs at CA Technologies, Connie Smallwood is constantly looking for ways to promote diversity. “I am always cognizant of how we can do better in our programs,” Connie said, “whether it be having more women serve on our patent review boards or encouraging more women to start their own businesses.” Connie even launched her company’s first networking group, Women@CA, to support her female colleagues.
Connie’s work to promote diversity, however, goes beyond the CA Technologies community. She also supports thousands of women technologists around the globe by volunteering on our Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) Committees.
“GHC reminds me how important it is to continue to focus on gender diversity,” she said. “It clearly makes an amazing impression on everyone who attends.”
First Impressions of GHC
Connie first attended GHC in 2006, the same year that CA Technologies became a GHC sponsor. She was surprised at just how different GHC was from other tech conferences she had attended in the past.
“There are very few conferences targeted toward technical women,” she explained, “which is why events like GHC are so important. Not only is the content very high quality, but the speakers are inspirational, and they discuss topics relevant to the community. Women can be more open at GHC and come away feeling energized and inspired.”
Giving Back through Volunteering
Impressed by all she had seen and heard at GHC, Connie decided to become a GHC volunteer. “I wanted to give back to the community that inspired me. I wanted to help shape the GHC program into something women technologists at all career levels would appreciate.”
Connie has served on our Scholarship Committee, the Career Committee, the Industry Advisory Board, and the Partner Board. Last year, she was the GHC 17 Program Co-chair. This year, she is serving as the GHC 18 General Conference Co-Chair, working closely with the AnitaB.org GHC content team to create a relevant, valuable celebration for attendees.
“So far, I have provided input for keynote and featured speakers, as well as reviewing the entire program lineup, including tracks and special sessions such as the Technical Executive Forum.”
Further Your Career
“I hope GHC continues to serve as a valuable resource for skill development, career growth, and networking for all women technologists,” Connie said of the three-day celebration.
She also offers advice for how to further one’s career when GHC is over. “First, find a support network. This could be your manager, colleagues, or mentors — women or men. These people can help you navigate an organization’s culture, provide valuable professional advice, and be a resource throughout your career.
“Second, give back to your community by volunteering or mentoring others. Not only does this provide personal satisfaction, but it also gives you valuable skills for the future.”