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Maria Sasinowski, Microsoft

Maria Sasinowski started at Microsoft less than three years ago as their first Federal Sales college hire in the pre-sales engineering role.  She has since been a key player in Microsoft’s first cloud deals for the intelligence community and lead the Windows 10 migration sales strategy for DoD. In November, she became an Account Executive on the Army team managing 350,000 users across give major commands. She will be the chapter lead for Girls in Technology NoVa next year and has been a guest speaker for girls in STEM at high schools in Metro DC.

YP team met with Maria for a short interview to get to know her, here is a summary.

What music are you grooving on?
Maria is so into Brian Adams' new rock/pop album and is a big fan of Sia.

Describe, anonymously or not, the best manager you know, and why they are so good at it.
Maria had 3 managers within 4 years whom she is grateful for different aspects of their managerial skills.  She had a hardworking technical manager who would fight for the team, another sharp one with great diplomacy and political skills, one who is big on recognition and awards and finally one who would treat the team with fairness.

Any tips on staying energized when the going gets tough?
Maria calls her favorite customer to cheer up and get some positive energy. However, she suggests to remind ourselves what gets us excited and employ that.

You win the lottery for $10 million. What do you do?
Maria would invest it and would not tell anyone! She also added that a vacation would be another way to spend the money yet it’s not enough to quit her job.

Sonya Jain, Founder and President, eGlobalTech

Founder and President of eGlobalTech, Sonya Jain, a PMI certified individual, has 20 years of Information Technology (IT) and management-consulting experience working primarily in the Federal Government sector. She founded eGlobalTech in 2004 with a vision of creating a family-friendly company based upon principles of the book Fish!: Bring a positive attitude to the job; be present; have fun; and make someone’s day! After more than a decade as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, Sonya left to start eGlobalTech; determined to create a company that could be successful in providing management consulting services and be responsive to client needs.

YP team met with Sonya for a short interview to get to know her, here is a summary.

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Annelise Dubrovsky, Senior Manager, Product Development, Appian

Annelise Dubrovsky is a Senior Manager of Product Management at Appian, the world's leading Business Process Management company. Annelise has spent over ten years shaping, building, and delivering Appian’s product vision to more than 4 million users worldwide. She is the leader of a portfolio comprising five development teams, a co-author of Appian's patent-pending SAIL technology, and a frequent speaker to customers and prospects. 

Annelise is a long-standing champion of Appian corporate culture and an ambassador for women employees, serving as a mentor and board member of Appian's Women's Leadership Program.  She has a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and lives in Herndon with her husband and daughter where she enjoys cooking in her free time.

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Sophia Paros – Finding a Career by Recognizing Your Strengths

Sophia Paros is the Cyber Technical & Development Support Team Lead of the Cyber Security Workforce Technical Programs Branch supporting the Cyber Workforce Development Division of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In this role, she provides oversight and guidance to both government civilian and contract personnel to manage to cost, schedule and performance of the Information Assurance Support Environment (IASE) ‐ DoD’s primary source for Information Assurance training, policy & guidance, and Cyber Defender ‐ DISA’s continual cybersecurity awareness program. Sophia earned a dual‐Bachelors in Business and Information Systems from the Notre Dame of Maryland University, and a Masters of Science in Engineering Management from George Washington University. She enjoys spending time with her Big Fat Greek Family, traveling, and crafting.

On sexism in the workplace:
I actually started off as a software engineer, so that’s really male dominated, and I was often the token female in the room or on the project or in the development phase, and it was hard to gain the same level of respect that my male counterparts did.

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Lisa Wolford – Cruising Through Male-Dominated Fields and Becoming a Female CEO

An inspiring leader and Marine Corps veteran, Lisa Wolford, President and CEO, founded Constellation West in 1997 as a single mom needing a career that could help her better support her family, including a son with severe disabilities. A dynamic, financially savvy executive, she built Constellation West into a place “where extraordinary works” ‐‐ becoming one of the country’s fastest‐growing service‐disabled veteran‐owned, women‐owned, small disadvantaged businesses – attracting top talent, winning contracts ‘where no woman‐owned business’ had gone before, and delivering top cyber security, agile development, and IT systems solutions to help federal agencies tackle their toughest challenges.

What was the process like of starting your own company? Did you know other female CEOs?
Well scary. I had done an Entrepreneurship class in college along with others that really set me up well to run my own company, and I had a contract before I started the company (18.5 years ago) where I was an architect for client-server technology, which was really hot stuff back then.

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Sheryl Lemma – How to Stay Focused on Solving the Right Problems with Technology

Sheryl Lemma has over 20 years of experience in higher education technology and has been with Ellucian for almost 16 years. She currently serves as Director of Product Management, with responsibility for Ellucian’s document management solutions, Ellucian Mobile, and Ellucian Reporting, powered by Ellucian Ethos.

Prior to this role, she served as product owner on new product development teams in areas such as reporting, Ellucian Portal, ILP, and most recently, Ellucian Mobile. Before joining Ellucian, she worked as a Colleague and Unix system administrator at Lebanon Valley College. Sheryl is passionate about creating unique and exciting applications that solve people's business problems, and is looking forward to engaging in new areas.

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Erin M. Thorpe – Breaking Through the Jargon; Communications Break Through

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Erin Thorpe is assigned to USCG Command, Control & Communications Engineering Center (C3CEN) in Portsmouth, VA. Her responsibility is to oversee the security and accreditation of IT systems supported by the Communications Area Master Station Product Line.  Her USCG assignments include three USCG Cutters, an Aviation Training Center, a Sector Command Center (Search and Rescue Controller), and a District Telecommunications Office.  CWO Thorpe consistently seeks opportunities to mentor fellow Coast Guardsmen.  She is an active member of her community, volunteer tutor at a local elementary school and participates in various local charity events. CWO Thorpe is the proud mother of three amazing, high energy kids.

Which skills or attributes do you value most in coworkers that are just starting their careers?
Communications: being able to take complex information and translate it into something that anyone can understand, ability to make subjects approachable and not sound so scary. People in tech use dense language with a lot of jargon; especially in the military, acronyms are everywhere. I value being able to break away from buzzwords or terms that only your small work community can understand

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Suzanne Campbell, Director, Federal Systems Engineering, VMware Public Sector

Suzanne Campbell is a recognized business and technology leader in the Federal IT community. Her 20+ years of experience span tenures at VMware, EMC, IBM and her own consulting practice. Suzanne has accomplished a strong track record of success with over 14 years in leadership positions. Suzanne has led teams ranging from 10 to 100+ employees, exceeding business growth objectives and delivering successful customer business and IT outcomes. Suzanne thrives leading and growing high performing solutions and engineering sales teams, supporting team and individual development, and cultivating collaborative partnerships internally and with clients and solution providers across the Federal ecosystem. Her background includes expertise in software development, systems engineering, program management, pre-sales systems and solutions engineering, business and financial operations. Suzanne holds a B.S in Computer Science from Virginia Tech and is a certified Project Management Professional.

YP team met with Suzanne for a short interview to get to know her, here is a summary.

Describe, anonymously or not, the best manager you know, and why they are so good at it.
Suzanne thinks that the key characteristic of highly skilled managers are being a listener, not a teller and an enabler without micromanaging so that one can bring the best out of employees.

What music are you grooving on?
Suzanne is currently listening lots of pop as that’s what her 13 year old and 15 year old are into in addition to GarageBand. She enjoys 80s, 90s music.

Any tips on staying energized when the going gets tough?
Reframe the situation. Listen to the inside message because chaos is opportunity and solving means growth.

What are some of your favorite vacation spots?
Suzanne has a couple. SF for its innovation and beauty, DC for being the most powerful city, Italy is her favorite vacation spot and she also enjoys diving in Maui. She used to be a scuba diver!

Cyber Trends and English Lit – An Interview with Sara Abiusi

Sara Abiusi is a Managing Director with Accenture Federal Services. She is the Civilian Portfolio Technology lead and leads Technology for the US Postal Service account. She founded the Accenture DC Women in Technology program. Sara serves on the DC Board of Ascend – the largest PanAsian Professional Development nonprofit in the US and the board of the JHU Women in Business affinity group. Sara graduated in 1996 from Johns Hopkins with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Sara is married with two children: an eight year old daughter and a four year old son.

Which of your special projects or undertakings are you most proud of?
I helped launch a Women In Tech group at Accenture. We have a leadership series, we monitor cyber trends, and do other activities to ensure that we as a company can stay relevant.

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Founding, Managing, and Growing a Company – an Interview with Rebecca Andino

Ms. Rebecca Andino, founder and CEO of Highlight Technologies, LLC has supported Federal agencies as an IT professional, program manager, and business owner for more than 15 years. She got her start working as a database developer for the Department of State, and led technology projects for national security missions after 9/11. In the last 8 years, she has led Highlight Technologies to achieve steady, profitable growth, currently managing 14 prime contracts across a dozen federal agencies. Ms. Andino is passionate about creating a customer and team-oriented environment that takes chances on talented and hard-working individuals, invests in employees’ careers, and provides opportunities for professional growth.

What inspired you to found Highlight Technologies?
Coming up, I had some really positive experiences working with small companies. You can have a lot of impact, you can learn a lot and own your growth. The small company for which I was working ended up growing, but I wanted to use the skills I had learned to recreate that environment. I hire a lot of talented junior level employees, and mentor them in the world of government contracting, providing them with lots of opportunities to grow.

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Volunteer of the Year – An Interview with Michelle Richards

by Laura Harcourt

Michelle Richards leads the Mobility Solutions sales team dedicated to the National Security and Public Safety sectors of Global Business - Public Sector Solutions. An accomplished team leader, Michelle Richards holds key roles in WIT and Women of AT&T (WOA), currently: President, WOA MD; Chair, WIT Maryland Leadership Lunch; and Coach, Mt. deSales CyberPatriot Girls, where she engages students to explore STEM careers.  Michelle champions the WIT/WOA collaboration, launching the Maryland Executive Leadership Lunches, which she has chaired for the last three years, and supporting expansion to Virginia.  She launched the WOA cell phone drive to fund WOA MD Scholarships and expanded it to WIT to support GIT programs.

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Prosthetic Limbs and Caribbean Port Calls – An Interview with Amy Grable

Commander Amy Grable is currently serving as Product Line Manager for the Coast Guard’s Enterprise Information Systems Infrastructure. In this position she is responsible for delivering IT services to 42,000 men and women supporting every Coast Guard mission. Previous assignments include Commanding Officer of Electronic Systems Support Unit (ESU) Boston and other positions held at the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center, ESU Seattle, Acquisition Directorate, Research & Development Center, and CGC SPENCER (WMEC 905). CDR Grable holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Coast Guard Academy and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island.

CDR Grable talked to the WIT Young Professionals about her achievements and career path. One of her proudest accomplishments, she said, was completing her training at the Coast Guard Academy. One of the country’s five prestigious federal military academies, the USCGA is extremely selective and well-established. Graduates of the Academy are obligated to serve five years in the U.S. Coast Guard. CDR Grable says her time there was physically and mentally difficult but she loved the challenge.

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Risk Services and Rwanda - An Interview with Stacey Halota

Stacey Halota is the Vice President for Information Security and Privacy at Graham Holdings Company. Ms. Halota has more than 20 years of experience in the IT, security and privacy fields. Before joining The Washington Post Company in 2003, she served as the federal government and southeast region leader of Guardent Consulting Services (now part of Verisign), where she helped transform Guardent from a regional decentralized model into a national information security consulting organization recognized by Computerworld as a top 100 company to watch among IT companies. Prior to Guardent, she worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Technology Risk Services consulting practice where she helped grow the team serving the mid-Atlantic market and federal government from two consultants with no client base or revenue to 46 consultants and $9.3M in annual revenue in three years. She talks to the Young Professionals about her volunteer work and staying positive in the face of change.

Ms. Halota describes herself as a very optimistic and positive person, saying, “there is so much to be grateful here.” She cites an incident recently when she was in a taxi and the driver was from Afghanistan. He said, when you live in the U.S., you’ve hit the lottery. The sentiment rung true for Ms. Halota, as it does for us here on the Young Professionals committee.

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Exceptionally Effective Communication, Balanced by a Good Workout - An Interview with Ashley Baber

Ashley Baber is currently the Director of Account Management and Customer Success at Cvent, a leading cloud-based enterprise event management platform, where she brings a decade of experience in customer success and SaaS technology. Recognizing customer success as a primary pillar of company growth, Ms. Baber built the Cvent AM department from inception to a 40-person team and has since increased renewal rates from 78% to 97%. Her ultimate goal is to ensure Cvent customers derive maximum value from their investment in meetings and events technology. Ms. Baber graduated with a BS degree from James Madison University. She is motivated by human psychology, customer experience and obsessively looks for ways to improve time-to-value.

Asked about managerial skills that she values, Ms. Baber cites her currecnt company, Cvent, which was founded by 3 lawyers. Among them, now President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing Chuck Ghoora, Ms. Baber cites as an exceptionally effective communicator, highlighting for her the importance of honing communication as a skill. It can always be improved upon, she reflects, manifesting itself in better public speaking and leadership. Even in managing a team of 50, Ghoora remained level-headed, which Ms. Baber aims to emulate on a daily basis. Using these skills, she has driven the adoption of new technologies across the organization and is a vocal supporter of embracing automation, new software, data-driven team building, and a host of disruptive approaches to growth, which have paid off immensely for the company.

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Work Hard, Be Confident – An Interview with Jo Decker

By Laura Harcourt

Jo A. Decker serves as Vice President of Business Development, Sales and Operations for the Global Solutions Division of General Dynamics Information Technology. In this role, she is responsible for the strategic development of solutions and services for U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, federal and commercial customers.  Ms. Decker served as Vice President of Business Development for the Defense Solutions Division until December of 2015.

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Caps fan appreciates when employees ask “Why?” – An interview with Sonia Kendall

Ms. Sonia Kendall works at United States Coast Guard (USCG) headquarters, Office of Information Assurance and Spectrum Management.  She represents the USCG telecommunications program in the areas of public safety & interagency (DHS/DOD) interoperability coordination and policy.  Ms. Kendall is a retired USCG Lieutenant; her 25 year Navy/USCG career was solely focused on C4IT related work.  Ms. Kendall is actively pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration through Columbia Southern University.  She holds a Master in Business Administration Degree from Columbia Southern University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland University College, and an General Associate’s Degree from Phoenix University.

So, Ms. Kendall. You win the lottery for $10 million. What do you do?  

Considering that I live in Maryland, the take-away from a $10 million lottery win would probably only be $5 million. With that money, I would give part of it to a reputable organization or charity and invest the rest of it.

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Because She’s the Most Qualified – An Interview with Cathy Tilton

By Laura Harcourt

Cathy Tilton is Chief Technologist for Biometrics at CSRA.  She has over 30 yearsof technology development and management experience including systems architecture/engineering, system integration & test, and project management in both government and commercial environments covering a broad range of applications.  Professionally, she is best known as a subject matter expert on biometrics and biometric standards, having served as the US head of delegation to ISO on this topic and industry advisor to Purdue’s biometrics program.  Personally, she is active in her church and community.  She is a former Army officer with degrees in Systems and Nuclear Engineering.

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