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Women in Tech :: Grow. Learn. Succeed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
In an industry of constant change and evolution, Amanda Regnerus has at times found herself lacking the confidence that she would be able to make the change or learn at the pace that was needed to keep up with the IT industry. Her admission to those fears may come as a surprise, considering Regnerus is the Vice President of Marketing at US Signal Company, a global technology enterprise.

“Each time I had those fears, I realized my apprehension was unnecessary. What I began to do is look at the evolution of technology as a challenge to grow, learn, and take my career to the next level,” said Regnerus.
Grow. Learn. Succeed.
It seemed a common theme among each of the women I spoke to. After all, you don’t rise to the top, like Regnerus did, without learning valuable lessons and taking advantage of challenges along the way. Regnerus, along with all the women featured are in the field of technology, an industry predominantly filled with males. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, in 2012, just 18% of computer-science college graduates were women, down from 37% in 1985. Despite the decline, we’re seeing great efforts to encourage young women to jump in head first.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) programs are becoming so popular that even the Girl Scouts have an agenda dedicated specifically to the cause. Nicole Johnson, a Systems Engineer with Cisco, believes in the power of mentorship and focusing on attracting young minds and retaining women in the industry. She goes on to say that it’s never too early to help a young girl see the vast options that STEM fields provide. “By simply speaking about your own successes in a STEM career, you can help open doors. They can’t be what they can’t see, and this is the first step. You never know what the influence will be,” says Johnson.

Breaking into the technology field at an early age can certainly help eliminate many of the barriers that come along with an ever changing field, however, that constant evolution is what draws so many people to the industry in the first place. Patti Phillips, Mid Market Account Manager at Cisco, can’t imagine doing anything else. “The technology industry is so exciting, it’s ever evolving and dynamically expanding, so it keeps me on my toes.”

Aside from the positive efforts that STEM programs and mentoring have created, there is also encouragement for women to consider leadership roles in technology from a financial perspective. Women-led hi-tech startups achieve a 35% higher return on investment, and when venture backed they generate 12% more revenue than male-owned tech companies. However, they represent only 3% of tech start-ups. This is according to the study “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World,” which surveyed 500 women in the technology sector and was conducted by Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation and Vivek Wadhwa, who holds titles at both Stanford and Duke University. 

Coming off the heels of a recession, it may be assumed that good jobs are still hard to come by, but this is far from the case in the field of IT. “There is a misnomer out there that we have or can quickly find the talent companies are looking for in an ever-changing environment,” said Becky Puckett-Wood, Managing Director with Experis, a division of Manpower that places candidates into IT roles. “With the continuing technical advancement of industries, the talent pool dwindles faster than the colleges can keep up on the current technology trends to keep the pool full for the market,” she explained.

“Whether you are male or female, the technology industry moves fast. Being relevant takes an investment in listening to IT challenges people are facing and staying educated on the latest technology trends. It’s a moving target and I think people may underestimate the time and investment in continued learning,” says Johnson.

Misconceptions About Technology
The perception of technology has come a long way over the last decade. It’s no longer “not cool” to be a female techie, says Deidra McClelland, CEO of The Skye Group, a marketing communications firm. “Science, math, engineering and computers are subjects and industries that young girls and women can definitely handle just as well as their male counterparts.”

Long perceived as a group of “geeks” writing code all day, the scope of technology is so vast it can literally be considered the very heart of a business.

“For many organizations the biggest misconception about IT is that it doesn’t deserve to be in the C Suite. But in reality, IT intersects all of the top business expenses - HR, payroll, inventory, materials, operating expenses, etc.,” explains Carrie Borchers, Director of Sales for IT Resource, a midwest leader of information technology services. “There are manufacturing facilities that have 24 x 7 operations with factories producing goods on machines that cost a million dollars. Yet, they balk at spending less than 1% on their IT infrastructure. What happens if those million dollar machines can’t connect to the network? IT is a key business driver and it belongs at the board room table.”

While businesses may not understand the importance of a solid IT infrastructure, the realm of technology doesn’t have to be mystifying, says Phillips. “It really involves listening to a customer, understanding their concerns and helping them solve their problems with the right solution and the right resources at the right time.”

Rising to the Top
Working in a field where females are the minority, and overcoming the challenges that come with the territory are just part of the daily grind for these women. At the end of the day they each felt the challenges they faced were no different than woman leaders in other fields and industries. They each make efforts to help other women (and men) succeed, whether it be in technology, or any aspect of business for that matter. Rising to the top of the corporate ladder is never an easy feat, but the lessons learned along the way have been instrumental in getting these women to where they are today, and in supporting and mentoring others throughout the process.

“One of the challenges I’ve turned into an asset is knowing my own weaknesses and building a team around me that compliments those. By doing this I’ve been able to build a team that makes me stronger and more well-rounded as a leader, in addition to helping my employees rise to their full potential, all while driving results for the company,” explains Puckett-Wood. “It’s a win, win, win if you can get the right team.”

“Along the way, never forget to stay true to yourself,” explains McClelland. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and this may go into the category of female intuition - it does exist.” But most importantly she reminds us to have fun. “At the end of the day, if you aren’t enjoying what you do, you need to move on and find your passion.”

It’s a Balancing Act
While finding passion in your career is instrumental advice, it often comes with a price. Bringing home stacks of work, getting out the laptop after the kids go to bed, then waking up tired to do it all over again may sound like a familiar situation. That was the life Regnerus led before she learned to be present where she is. By working smarter, not harder, Regnerus was able to separate her work life from her home life and eliminate the overwhelming feeling of trying to be all things to all people all of the time.

This way of life was not unique to Regnerus. Each woman I spoke to indicated that there is a balancing act that needs to take place in order to be your best in each given situation.

The word “guilt” was routinely suggested as one of the feelings that women in general are uniquely good at. “Many of us feel as if no matter how hard we try to balance, we may be paying more attention to one area of our lives at the expense of something else,” says Borchers. “I haven’t figured out the balance yet. This is an area I refer to as the battle I will always fight, but never win. Meaning, I achieve balance when I am intentional. You have to make time for what matters and respect those commitments.”

Phillips makes it a priority to “unplug” on a regular basis, volunteer, and practice yoga which helps keep her centered and balanced physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. But for McClelland, she feels as though she can never completely “shut it off,” but she is learning. A former boss reminded her that the house wouldn’t burn down if she was gone for a week. It was that vacation that made her realize just how important that little bit of “me time” actually was. You can only do so much in a day’s time. “Impact what you can today, and work on the rest tomorrow,” added Puckett-Wood.

Women do wear many hats when it comes to a career, a home life, and social commitments, but Johnson kindly reminds us that “at the end of the day, we only have one head for all those hats.” She says “I use my calendar and a daily to do “hit list” so I focus on my key activities and I am able to enjoy my home life after. Women tend to want to do it all, so it’s important to let go of feeling guilty for some things you couldn’t fit in and let other people share your load when needed. I try to live in the now, but remember that it’s the “life” I have that supports my success in my work.”

A Special Thanks to Our Contributors
Follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest tech trends.
Carrie Borchers :: IT Resource Director of Sales :: @csborch or @itresourceinc
Nicole Johnson :: Cisco Systems Engineer :: @tech_nicole
Deidra J. McClelland :: The Skye Group CEO :: @skyegroupgr
Patti Phillips :: Cisco Mid Market Account Manager :: @cisco
Becky Puckett-Wood :: Experis Managing Director :: @experis_us
Amanda Regnerus :: US Signal Company Vice President, Marketing :: @aregnerus

Programs For Women
There are a variety of programs available for women who have interests in technology. Cisco has programs to create communities for diversity both internally and for the general public. The internal networks develop a community within Cisco of peer women from all backgrounds. They also hold an annual global event for women which has motivated members to do more local meet-ups together. 

The public women’s group, called Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CEWN), provides a forum for all women in IT to network, motivate, and empower each other through energizing and engaging events held during Cisco Live and sustained through ongoing events throughout the year. This helps women bring similar events to their workplace, helps build pipelines and retains women in technology.

In addition, the Michigan Council for Women in Technology (MCWT) is a strong statewide group, and Davenport University has led many efforts to facilitate events for women in technology.

About the Author: Andrea Snyder is co-owner of STUDIO3TWENTY, a West Michigan based marketing firm specializing in consulting, writing, graphic design, and website development. Find them online at www.STUDIO3TWENTY.COM, or @studio3twenty.

Click here for a downloadable version of this article.

Save The Date :: BBQ Bash

Monday, June 30, 2014
IT Resource is throwing a BBQ Bash and you're invited! Save the date and watch your inbox for details to follow.

Families and kids are encouraged to attend! Along with great conversation, guests will enjoy a super BBQ dinner, drinks, LIVE music and mingling, so stay tuned for details to come. Save the date because we'd love to see you and your family here!

Free Coffee :: Just Share Your Ideas With Us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our goal has always been to use our blog as a way to create a trusted resource for our readers. You'll often find us talking about the latest technology trends and products, informing you of sales and incentive programs, and of course, sharing company news and tidbits. The numbers are showing us that our blog has been well received, as our traffic continues to grow each month. 

Giveaway Details: Win a Starbucks Gift Card!

We always listen to what our customers and readers are saying, and we've generated quite a few blog posts based on those discussions. But, we've never formally asked for your input, even though we've always wanted it! So here's your chance to interact with us, and maybe even win a cup of joe in the process. All you have to do is tell us what you want us to write about in a future blog post. Maybe you want to know more about hybrid clouds and how they work, or how about what we think about the latest operating system. Heck, maybe you want to know what we had for lunch yesterday. Whatever it is you want to know more about - just let us know!

Leave a comment on this blog post or on our Facebook page with your idea for a future article and we'll pick 5 winners at random on July 31, 2014. Each winner will get a $5 Starbucks gift card!

*Limit to one entry per person on the blog and one entry per person on Facebook. Winners will be notified electronically.

Windows 8.1 Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
One valuable function of Windows 8.1 is the Quick Access Menu. This is just like having your start button and provides easy access to Programs and Features, Command Prompt, Task Manager, Control Panel, Shut Down, etc. This can be accessed by right clicking the windows button in the bottom left corner or hitting the windows key+X.
Remember that in 8.1, the keyboard is your friend. Below are some keyboard shortcuts that can boost your productivity.
Lock computer :: Windows+L
Open windows help :: Windows+F1
Search :: Windows+S
Open settings :: Windows+I
Snap window to right side :: Windows+right arrow
Snap window to left side :: Windows+left arrow
Display charms bar :: Windows+C
Minimize all open windows :: Windows+M
Peek at desktop :: Windows+,

Other nifty tips and tricks:
Want to search for a file or program? Once you hit the windows key, the ‘tile’ page (or Start screen) opens and you can type whatever you need.  The search box automatically opens when you start typing. 

Here, the Windows key is highlighted.

Windows 8.1 file history backup allows you to select folder to be backed up and to which device (thumb drive, external hard drive). It will automatically synchronize back and forth to keep files updated.

An alternate way to minimize or maximize a window: drag the title bar to the top of the desktop screen to maximize. Drag the title bar down to minimize.

To show your desktop, hover your mouse anywhere on the taskbar, right click and click show desktop.

To open programs that are pinned to your taskbar, simply hit the windows key + the number of the icon on your desktop. For example, if Word is the third program that’s pinned, hit Windows+3.

If you want to know more about Windows 8.1 functionality or you have some of your own tips to share with us, give us a call at 616.837.6930 or send us an email.

Microsoft Releases a Patch for their Internet Explorer Security Issues

Friday, May 02, 2014
Microsoft’s IE browser was recently discovered to have a major security vulnerability which allowed hackers remote access to data on your PC. In the interim, users were advised to change browsers until a patch becomes available.

For those who are unaware, Microsoft released a patch on May 1st. If you would like our assistance in updating your systems, please let us know via email or call us at 616.837.6930.

For those customers with our Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) services, we will be able to remotely push the patch out without any interruption. All RMR customers can expect to have the patch applied by the end of the day today. If you are not receiving RMR services we can still assist in updating your systems however it may take longer to implement on your behalf. Please let us know right away so we can get you taken care of in a timely manner.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. A helpful article about the security flaw can be found here.

What is your Virtualization and Cloud Services Strategy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The current spring savings are a great reason to take closer look at Virtualization and Cloud Services strategies, but if saving some coin isn't enough to get you thinking about them, perhaps these three major factors in the marketplace will:

1. Virtualization has evolved beyond simple server consolidation and occurs at many levels within your organization, including Compute (CPU, RAM), Network and Storage Infrastructure.

2. At the same time cloud-based services such as Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Azure and third party application providers have matured and grown considerably in the marketplace. Additionally, new cloud-based services have grown quickly to offer robust solutions for:

- Cloud-managed Wireless services, like Cisco Meraki
- Cloud-managed VoIP and SIP voice services, like FreedomVoice and nexVortex
- Cloud-managed Firewall and Security services, like Cisco Meraki and Cisco Cloud Web Security

3. Pricing models for many of the cloud-based solutions are more cost-effective than traditional purchasing.

ALL our partners in Virtualization and Cloud Services have fantastic promotions and incentives this spring to help you achieve the tactics in your Virtualization and Cloud Services strategy, and there are deals for businesses of all sizes.

· The SMB Advantage from Microsoft: earn up to 15% off your annual Office 365 licensing when you migrate to Office 365 before May 31
· Cisco Unified Computing System: server (UCS) SmartPlays and Advantage Trade-in are available – unify computing, networking, management, virtualization and storage access into a single architecture
· VMware Horizon and Mirage: the ideal architecture for private, hybrid and public clouds
· US Signal:  Get 2 TB of cloud storage, Cloud-Based Managed Firewall (CBMF) and a 10 Mb Internet port for $399 per month regardless of term

If you need help in creating your Virtualization and Cloud Services Strategy, need to validate your strategy to leverage today’s best practices, or if you have your plan and need help checking the Action Items off the list, contact us today so we can get you set up. Now is a great time to take advantage of these cost-effective promotions.

Weight Loss Challenge :: The Results

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pounds have been shed, dress sizes have been lost, and we’re feeling good! We have reached the end of our weight loss competition and are reluctant to announce that we were defeated by our competitors, GCI.

Although we were hoping to win, everyone is still very thrilled with how much weight was lost individually. It certainly makes for a healthier ITR team!
Here are a few of our office participants. Pictured from left are Hans, Mike, Todd, Andrew, Lori, and Denise.

In an effort to make things as fair as possible, weight loss was measured by percentage lost. GCI came in at an average of 9.1% while ITR had an average of 8.3%! Everyone who participated agrees that it was very beneficial and a great way to start out the year.

Along with the competition with GCI, we also had a competition among those in the office. Here’s our biggest losers: Denise Sabo, 3rd place, Lori Brandt, 2nd place and Todd Hekkema for the 1st place win! Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Sally Anderson :: A Warm Welcome

Monday, March 31, 2014
People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource.

Official Title: Office Manager

What do you do at IT Resource?
I wear many different hats at IT Resource. My duties range from invoicing, to renewals board, to sales reviews, to keeping us in IT Resource logo wear.

Do you have any hidden talents? I will let you know if any emerge.

What is the best part about working at IT Resource? The wonderful team of people I work with.  I am always grateful for their support and willingness to do whatever they can to help everyone on the team succeed.

How long have you worked at ITR? Since February, 2014

If you knew then, what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself? Life is to be lived, enjoy every moment!

What is the most interesting, non-IT related, job you’ve ever had? Substitute teaching. Each day was unique and children share the most interesting details of their everyday lives, usually much to the dismay of their parents.

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you.
I modeled for Steketee’s in two print ads.

Traditional Backup vs. Intelligent Business Continuity

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It wasn’t too long ago the safe and traditional backup strategy was to save all your information on a tape backup. At the end of the day, someone would have to remember to pop the tape out of the drive, label it, place it in a secure carrying case and remember to take it home or to another offsite location. In the unfortunate instance that something happens during the night, all your data is safe and sound on the back up tape. Or is it? If you're still operating this way it is time to look at moving to a more cost effective and efficient solution. 

Traditional backup methods such as tape, disk, and strict Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are no longer sufficient. In fact, more business owners are finding them unacceptable to meet their business continuity requirements. Technological innovations have set a new solution standard: Intelligent Business Continuity, going beyond data protection; delivering automated assurance, continuous protection, secured storage, and instant recovery.

The differences between traditional backup and intelligent business continuity are many, and it's worth looking into if you're still using traditional backup methods.

Can take weeks to recover data after a disaster Downtime after a disaster is reduced to hours, minutes, or seconds
Risk for human error: 60% of on-site disasters are due to human error Full automation backup —very little manual management required
Difficult to test if a backup is working properly Automated screenshots are taken and reported to ensure each backup was successful and can be booted anytime
Time consuming and expensive to make copies of backups or to store backups in multiple locations Each backup is saved in multiple locations: local appliance and bi-coastal data centers
Backup speeds are slower Quick and efficient transferring of files to off-site data centers
Physical to virtual conversions can be time consuming and have a high failure rate Incremental backups can be instantly virtualized, rather than the entire backup chain
No redundant backups in multiple locations, leaving high risk for original backup systems to be destroyed Eliminates downtime in the event of a disaster by allowing your business to run off the secure cloud
Limited options for encrypting data, may not pass industry regulations (i.e., HIPAA, SOX) AES 256 and SSL key-based encryption ensures data is safe and meets industry regulations (ie. HIPAA, SOX)
 When recovering data, tape failure rates exceed 50% Minimal risk of corrupted backups or data loss
 Potential for theft of loss of media Off-site backups stored in SSAE 16 data centers

IT Resource partners with Datto, an industry leader in backup, recovery, and business continuity. The facts are startling when it comes to data recovery. In fact, 70% of businesses that suffer a serious data loss are out of business in two years. Odds like that are not in your favor. Don't let another day go by with an inferior data backup and business continuity plan. We can assess your current situation to make sure all your bases are covered. Contact us at 616.837.6930 or via email.

Join Us For Virtualization Madness on March 20

Sunday, March 02, 2014
Basketball, wings, beer, & technology:  It’ll be the first round of the March Madness tournament... Join us at McFadden's, in downtown Grand Rapids, for lunch and watch the game on the big screen as we discuss the first round of Virtualizing your IT Infrastructure with VMware’s vSphere.

Virtualization enables your business to:
- Reduce capital expenses through server consolidation
- Lower operating expenses through automation
- Enhance business continuity and disaster recovery plans

Highlights of the Event
We’ll highlight what’s new in vSphere 5.5 and leave you with some practical steps to take if you are looking to move along the Virtualization bracket. Whether your goal is to simplify your IT infrastructure, enhance your business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, or move to desktop virtualization and mobile computing, this is the event for you!

Event Schedule
Our presentation begins at 11am, but you'll want to stick around for lunch and the March Madness games at 12:15. We've reserved the room for the entire afternoon and we'd love to have you stay for networking, basketball, lunch, and a beer on us!