November 8th was National STEM Day. A great way to raise awareness about the need for STEM education. But we need more than one day to remind us of the importance of STEM education. Especially for girls. The number of women in STEM fields continues to lag men. My current favorite TV commercial is the GE one with Molly the young inventor – great inspiration!
I’m a firm believer that you need to create an interest in science and encourage children, in particular girls, starting at a young age. There are many ways to do this. The choice of toys, games, and books is just one of them.
The holiday season and gift buying is ahead of us. In my case, it’s not just the holidays but it’s also two birthdays. I’ve been asking my daughters what to get for my soon to be 3 and 5-year-old granddaughters for their birthdays. The soon to be 3-year-old is consistent in her answer no matter who asks – a red motorized toy car so she can drive her younger brother around the yard. The soon to be 5-year-old answered a My Little Pony or Hello Kitty toy set. For Christmas last year, we bought her several months subscription to Koala Crate, an activity kit for kids age 3-4. She loved it and her parents continued the subscription.
I’m committed to finding some educational toys for them for either their birthdays or holidays so I’ll be checking out the STEM section of the local toy store again this year.
When I started writing and speaking on women in technology a few years ago, I put together a list of STEM toys for different ages. This was done with the help of one of my staff who had two young daughters and shared my passion about STEM education. I know this list needs updating and I could use your help.
So here’s my ask – take a look at my STEM for the holidays blog post from back then and send me your more current suggestions via a comment so I can share with all my readers. Think all ages from toddlers through high school. If I get enough new suggestions, I’ll create an updated list to share before the holidays. Thanks in advance for your help!!
STEM for the holidays
Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers
Technology, where are all the women?
I woke up Monday morning after a sleepless night with a text from my daughter, Ann, “do you have power?”. Only 10 miles from our house, her neighborhood had lost power and Internet access due to the storm while we were up-and-running. Ann works from home as Communications Manager for a national company, and was not interested in wasting a sick day sitting in the dark. So after dropping my granddaughters off at daycare, she set up shop in our dining room.
Except for being limited to just her laptop and not the two large extension monitors in her home office, she was ready for a productive day. A year ago, I would have thought she was crazy for needing two monitors, but she convinced me to get a second. There’s nothing like it for multi-tasking and having multiple windows open when you are working on a project.
We respected each other’s space and work. We had minimal conversation when I went to the kitchen for coffee. But in our two brief morning interactions, we casually discussed the common challenges of remote workers – one being the isolation. And I got some new ideas from her.
Half the dining room table was covered in my receipts as I was working on expense reports. I used to just hand the task over to my executive assistant, but in my new life, I do them myself. I dislike the task so much that I get way behind. Monday was the day to catch up. Continue reading
A year ago, I was asked by a University CIO to participate in an External Advisory Committee on Information Technology. At that point, I was just finishing up the interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals and launching a new HIT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors. I asked the CIO “why me” and considered the time commitment. I said yes.
This week I attended the second half day in-person meeting of the committee. The first was a few days before I started the interim CIO engagement at Stony Brook Medicine in March.
These commitments to other organizations take time: time to review extensive materials in advance, travel and connecting flights, and in-person meetings.
But they are a win-win.
I learn and they learn. I am impressed with this CIO and his IT leadership team as I have gotten to know them. I am impressed with the support and engagement they have been able to garner from the Chancellor and Provost. I am impressed with my colleagues on the committee – a mix of university CIOs and IT business leaders. And I’m impressed with the ambitious, multi-year roadmap to replace their financial, HR and student administration systems with a new, integrated solution.
While my IT experience is in healthcare, I have worked in academic medical centers and collaborated with university IT teams. Financial and HR systems are universal across industries. But I have not gone this deep, before, into the unique systems of the higher education sector. I’m learning that student administration systems have some of the same complexities and challenges that electronic health records have in my world.
Of course, IT implementations regardless of industry and domain have many common components. Addressing a current state that is fragmented, self-developed, and highly customized with proven, integrated vendor solutions is not new to me. The many decisions involved in data conversions and archive strategies, the establishment of robust data governance, the inclusion of change management throughout the project – these are all components that we in IT know are fundamental to success. Continue reading
With the latest sexual harassment and abuse stories in the news, I am reminded once again how important it is for women to speak up. We need to encourage women and girls to pursue their dreams, and support them when they face obstacles.
Like other women leaders, I try to be a role model for young women in all that I say and do. I try to speak up and take on the tough issues that women face in the work world. I encourage young women to figure out who is on their “team you”. And most importantly, I tell them not to put up with crap, from anyone.
I have written many posts over the past few years on women and work and done several talks focused on encouraging and developing women.
Here are some of those posts that you might find useful and maybe even inspiring these days:
Yes we can: women in health IT
Powerful women and their path to success
Investing in the success of others
Equal pay, who can argue?
Balancing career and family
I challenge you to look at your own practices and ensure you are doing all you can to support women in your organization so they are comfortable speaking up, able to overcome obstacles they face, and can actually thrive and advance.
For the first birthdays of my four grandkids, there have been party hats and “smash” cakes. But what does a small team of entrepreneurs do on the first anniversary of founding their firm? They take stock and plan for year two.
David Muntz, Russ Rudish and I launched StarBridge Advisors in October of 2016. So how does a health IT advisory firm measure success after year one?
Number of clients – We have already assisted 12 healthcare provider organizations with some repeat engagements and have national reach.
Revenue – Any first-year projections can be a crapshoot but you need to start somewhere. We may have been overly optimistic but we are well on our way with our client base and pipeline.
Size of our team – In addition to our three principals, we now have almost 20 advisors on our team available for interim management, leadership support and consulting. Their IT leadership experience includes serving as CIO, CTO, CISO, CMIO or CNIO in healthcare organizations.
Channel partners – We work closely with several larger consulting firms who offer services that we don’t. We partner with Healthcare IT Leaders, a leading staffing firm and Rudish Executive Search, which specializes in healthcare. And we are working with a few start-up technology vendors who are bringing to market new and novel solutions for healthcare providers.
Referrals – Our principals combined have over 90 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Our relationships are a key component of growing a new business and getting known in the market.
Name and brand recognition – A year ago we had decided on a name and incorporated, but had yet to figure out our branding. That was some fun work at first; by January we launched our website and social media presence. Continue reading
Like you, I woke up Monday morning to the horrific news that at least 50 people were dead and over 400 people injured at the kind of venue we have been to before: an open-air music event with thousands of people.
But this was not a terrorist attack in some foreign country. This was our country. The United States of America. The land of the free. But sadly, it is also the land of guns. Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult.
This time it was a 64-year-old white man who had amassed over 40 weapons and had carried over 20 of them into his hotel suite a few days earlier. These were semi-automatic weapons modified to shoot rounds so fast that in just 10 minutes he ended or injured over 500 lives. Not to mention the psychological damage for the thousands who escaped, survived, tended to others on the scene, transported them to hospitals or cared for them at the hospital.
I was in Chicago attending a healthcare forum on Monday. But no one was talking about what had happened. Are we so numb to gun violence in this country that we watch that initial news story in horror but then move on? Were the few hundred people in that meeting room with me distracted during the day and wanting to know more about what had happened? Were they quietly looking for answers? Instead of just looking at email on their phones were they looking for news updates and trying to comprehend this awfulness yet again?
I saw an alarming image and statistic today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5 million Americans have been killed in the U.S. in gun related incidents since 1968. That is more than the 1.2 million service members killed in all the U.S. wars combined. The caption said, “We are at war with ourselves”. Continue reading
A week after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we are hearing that this United States territory is facing a humanitarian crisis. That is a phrase we have all heard before about poor countries in other parts of the world – it could be the result of a natural disaster or a civil war. A crisis like this saddens us, but it’s usually so far away, and we just move on.
What is a “humanitarian crisis”? Wikipedia defines it as “a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people”. Another way of saying it – when the basics of life are unavailable – food, water, transportation, healthcare, and communications.
Puerto Rico is us, yes US. It is not somewhere far away. It is 1000 miles from Miami. 3.5 million people live in Puerto Rico. It is 3 times the size of Rhode Island – in square miles and in population.
Less than 50% of Puerto Ricans have running water. The entire island is without power, the power grid has been destroyed. Only 29 of 69 hospitals on the island are operational. Hospitals still open are running on generators and quickly running out of fuel. In the capital city of San Juan, 2 people on life support died when their hospital’s generators ran out of diesel.
Interviews with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on MSNBC brought this home. She could not have been more articulate in her plea for federal help. As she talked about the dire situation and the reality of hospitals running out of power, she described them as places to care for and heal people, not to be death traps.
Luis Guiterrez, U.S. Representative from the Illinois 4th congressional district, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico described in vivid terms what the elderly are going through there. He asked us to think about what it would be like for our own elderly parents who may live alone. What if they didn’t have access to food or water and they needed insulin. He called for the U.S. military to go in and quickly set up a power and communications infrastructure as we know they can and do in wartime.
The USNS Comfort is larger than many of the largest hospitals in this country with 1000 beds. Continue reading
“My spouse won’t move.” You may have heard this if you have ever hired someone who would need to relocate their family. You may have even heard it after you extended the offer. If it happens that late in the process, it may be just an easy excuse because they weren’t going to accept the position anyway.
Whether your spouse and family are willing to relocate to a particular city is something that should be discussed and agreed on together very early in the process. Why waste everyone’s time if it’s not going to work.
Relocating is a big decision. I’ve done it several times. And each time, my husband and I discussed it early on. Was this a part of the country we were willing to live in? Was this city one that we’d be happy in? What did the housing market look like? These are just some of the considerations.
If you are early in your career, you probably want to figure out what kind of future opportunities are in that area, is it family friendly, are there good schools, and can you afford to buy a house. If you are later in your career, you may think of your next move in terms of where you might want to eventually retire or living closer to your grandkids.
Regardless of where you are in your career, there are some common considerations. Assuming it’s a job you really want and an organization you really want to work for, here is my advice on what to consider when relocating: Continue reading
As an entrepreneur with my own business I am required to learn more new things than I ever imagined. That includes new software tools – and lots of them.
Our firm uses SalesforceIQ to track prospects and clients. This tool has so much flexibility and is so easy to set up that we have found many additional ways to use it. Our virtual admin sets up the basics for us once we provide requirements; we then maintain the data. It’s so easy and intuitive that I have made changes myself that in another system would require a programmer. SalesforceIQ gets high marks from me!
We’ve been leveraging LinkedIn as a business which has meant learning about functions individuals don’t need to use. We have needed expertise from our LinkedIn support person and then our virtual admin to implement. But it’s been fun to learn what’s possible and figure out how best to leverage it.
Then there are those basic Office 365 tools. Maybe you have a love / hate relationship with them. I do at times. Sometimes, you hear the term “bloatware” for products that are so feature rich you couldn’t possibly use them all, much less figure them out.
Anyone in management knows the basics of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But do you really know how to use all the advanced functions? Or do you turn it over to a staff person at some point to do that level of manipulating? What you think should be intuitive just isn’t much of the time. Or maybe I’m just showing my age.
But I keep at it and learn as I go. I just need to recognize when it’s diminishing returns and ask someone for help. I shoot off a note to one of my colleagues or our admin. My husband is probably happy that he can’t be my “next door office support person” for these kinds of questions; he uses all Apple products. Continue reading
“I need to go to the Container Store”. When I hear my husband say that simple sentence, I’m totally in. Unlike when he says he’s going to a nearby office supply store for something, I have to go with to the Container Store. There is always something there I could buy to get myself more organized.
I work from home when I’m not doing an interim management engagement, so my home office is a continuous improvement project. Or is that just an excuse to fool myself and buy more organizing tools?
Before the trip last weekend, I stepped back to assess my needs. After all, you can’t just walk into that store and head to the home office section without a plan. I opened the storage closet in my home office. I was instantly reminded that I had unused organizers from previous trips plus unwanted products from my husband’s home office. The guilt set in.
I made a plan for organizing my desk and working files better. I decided I didn’t need any new organizers for now. But I did want one more way to hang stuff up on my office wall. So, I carefully measured the space and thought about the product I’d buy.
There’s something about the Container Store that sucks you in. There’s always a sale and always cool new products. It’s not that close to us so fortunately we don’t go that often. The challenge is to not wander around the store fantasizing about all the possible containers and organizers that could transform your life. Who couldn’t be more organized somewhere in their life? Whether it’s your kitchen, your bathroom, your laundry room, your closets, or your office, there’s something calling to you. Continue reading