Environmental, Social, and Governance

What does the new culture of technology look like?

Nicola Acutt, Vice President, Sustainability Strategy – Office of the CTO at VMware

If you want a glimpse into what the future of technology could look like — and be wowed by the possibilities — you’d have to go back to the Women Who Code (WWCode) premier developer conference, CONNECT 2017, which recently took place in San Francisco and Bangalore.

WWCode is a global non-profit focused on inspiring women to excel in technology careers. They do this by building a truly diverse and energized community of women who drive the mission forward with networks that span the world, from Ghana to Chile, China to Jamaica. WWCode powers big, meaningful change through learning, mentoring, and career development in service of everyone in the tech innovation industry.

Something I appreciate about WWCode is that they recognize that changing the face of technology is a multifaceted challenge. It calls on us to not only address the profound need for gender and ethnic diversity (what I call the first dimension of diversity), but also skillset, mindset, and experience (referred to as the second dimension of diversity).

CONNECT 2017 was held at Twitter’s headquarters on Saturday, April 29, 2017, in San Francisco. The event convened over 700 people and featured amazing speakers, in-depth sessions, leadership and career conversation panels, technical workshops, keynotes, and actionable advice on work and life.


VMware’s technical women have a strong relationship with WWCode and this year’s event featured a contingent of some of our most dynamic leaders. Lily Chang, Vice President of Engineering, who serves as a Board Member of WWCode, participated in a Fireside Chat with Mimi Hills, Director Product Globalization in R&D, who was recently quoted in Inc. regarding her leadership success secret. Meng Chow, Ph.D Open Source Program Manager, spoke about VMware’s new Open Source initiatives in the Office of the CTO.  Purnima Padmanabhan, Vice President Product Management – Cloud Management, delivered an excellent talk on “Mindset Matters.”  I had the opportunity to represent VMware’s Office of the CTO and to share our rich tradition of innovation programs as part of a panel discussion on different approaches to R&D innovation.

Additionally, VMware hosted the first International WWCode conference at our Bangalore Office on March 3, just a few days shy of the worldwide 2017 Women’s Day. The event featured Tech Talks and speakers from nearly 20 organizations. Topics included Systems Engineering, Data Science and Emerging Technology including domains like Cloud, Open Source, System Engineering, Security, Data Science and Machine learning.

VMware’s Anita Vijaykrishnan, Vice President IT, presented the welcome note to the enthusiastic crowd of women and men. Sairam Veeraswamy, Sr. Director of Innovation Programs, spoke about the habits required to build innovation. I am so proud of VMware’s technical women in India for their leadership in bringing together a fierce and powerful community of women across VMware, Dell, Google, Intuit, Intel, HP, AirWatch, and GE Appliances.

Perhaps the most inspiring takeaway of the event was the emphasis on how to use technology to solve social problems and give back to the community. Topics included:

  • Role of IT in public health
  • Potential for IoT projects on Smart Irrigation systems
  • Customized IT for differently abled people while content is single sourced
  • Source Separation to improve performance of Speech Emotion Recognition System

In the Office of the CTO at VMware, we’re constantly immersed in, and fueled by, the relentless pursuit of what’s possible. As my colleague, Lily Chang recently commented, “contributing to our broader community through gatherings like these offer us precious opportunities to reflect and gain perspective. They also remind us of why our work in tech matters.”

The VMwomen and WWCode communities share a strong sense of responsibility to design for impact. I’m enormously proud of VMware and my colleagues in the R&D organization for their commitment to propel a new culture of tech — one where social impact, inclusion and diversity drive innovation and the industry as forces for good, for all.