2020’s Best & Brightest Role Models & Mentors
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The Powerful Women in Consumer Technology recognition program is relatively young within the Dealerscope circle of awards, but its institution represented a significant and important step in highlighting the achievements of women in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. The program, which relies on canvassing of our readership for worthy nominees along with a review of the names placed in nomination by Dealerscope’s staff, is designed to honor those women who are effective in their respective consumer technology fields and who are known as both natural leaders among their peers and colleagues, and as mentors to up-and-coming females in the CT category.  We recently created a category, Women on the Rise, to recognize individuals who have already achieved respect and standing worthy of note in the CT field as they move in rank; you will read about those women here, too. Congratulations to all the honorees. We hope you enjoy reading about their views both on the industry and on the growing opportunities for women in this very unique sphere we all occupy.
We Ask:
What attracted you to a career in consumer technology and what makes it a good career choice now for women? What  hurdles remain to overcome?

Traci C Perry,
Senior Vice President, Controlling, Lifestyle Division, Harman International Inc., a Samsung Company
It’s interesting as the Consumer Industry chose me on some level, was just a fit. I came into this business to advance my finance career. That said, this was one of the best career choices I’ve ever made. Consumer technology is a very fun industry and enables us to enjoy our daily work. Our business encourages and supports financial input. I also have the benefit of working with a collaborative, motivated, and innovative business team, which also adds value to my daily work. I love music, I love our industry space and I love our team and our working style. The industry is great and I don’t see any hurdles for women to enter this industry.
Genna Majuta,
Chief Customer Officer,
Retailer Web Services, LLC
Using technology to help others achieve greater success is invigorating, and the opportunities are boundless. To help realize the full promise of technology, furthering STEM education in women is necessary to bring balance to fields where we are the minority
Sonia Wadhawan,
Director, Devices & Services Partnerships, Google
Technology is a thread that weaves through so many industries - education, healthcare, transportation, and food to name just a few. A career in consumer technology gives me the ability to impact consumers at scale across these different industries. Consumer technology is a great place for women to make decisions on how technology shapes our future, which is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility.  As the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, ‘Women belong in all the places where decisions are being made.’ Decisions on how and where we implement technology will leave an imprint on future generations. It is imperative that women are leaders in the development and distribution of consumer technology. Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions across the industry. It is our responsibility to be allies and lift each other up so we have an equal voice.
Cindy Stevens,
Senior Director, Publications, Consumer Technology Association
I previously worked in the wireless industry as editor of Wireless Business & Technology magazine, and attended CES each year, so I was familiar with CTA when I came on board. What I appreciate most about the industry is that the constant disruption in technology provides so many opportunities for professionals who want to be challenged, have fresh ideas and are eager to learn. As editor-in-chief of CTA’s magazine, It Is Innovation (i3), I have had the honor of interviewing many top executives and also the privilege to head up CTA’s Hall of Fame program from its start in 2000. It has been inspiring to meet some of the greatest minds in tech. The consumer tech industry is an ideal career choice for women because of the growth opportunities and incredible innovation happening in technology, as well as the many diversity and inclusion practices that tech companies have put in place.
Tiffany Moore,
Senior Vice President, Political and Industry Affairs, Consumer Technology Association
Technology has the power to positively transform the lives of women and people of color. My curiosity and interest in technology began with my mother, an entrepreneur by necessity. She introduced me to computers and technology at a young age. That curiosity has become a consistent thread throughout my career. Technology coupled with the ingenuity of diverse individuals and voices will solve today’s and future challenges and increase economic opportunity. We are the solution we’ve been waiting for. Diversity must be a business imperative instead of a “nice to do.” Organizations that view diversity as a corporate social responsibility exercise will miss the opportunity to dominate the innovation game. It must be a core value. As Gary Shapiro, Consumer Technology Association President and CEO, wrote in Ninja Future, “Diversity – of thought, experience, background, skills, ideas – is the bedrock of innovation.” The challenge and opportunity are in recognizing it.
Sandi Stambaugh,
Vice President, Product Management, SYNNEX Corporation
Since beginning my career in the technology distribution business in 2003, I have been attracted to the fast-paced nature of the industry and specifically, the need to continually learn, innovate and adapt to market trends. Technology is the lifeline of innovation and is at the root of countless life improvements seen in my lifetime. Having an opportunity to be part of the network of people responsible for developing, delivering and integrating that technology is special. The personal part of this business is key – relationships matter. That alone makes it the perfect industry for a woman looking for a career where they can be connected, influential and impactful. Discovering success in consumer technology is about finding passion and driving to the best possible results with a laser focus on the goal. There are no hurdles or boundaries outside of ourselves.
Melissa Stenson,
VP Member Experience, Nationwide Marketing Group
Technology has always enabled standout customer experiences. But never has it been more important than right now. COVID has forced the biggest shift to digital in all of history, across all facets of our lives. Overnight, our retailers pivoted to surviving solely on their digital presence. Grandparents were dancing with the kids on TikTok. Our event marketing teams shifted real-world experiences to virtual events. Just as our retailers innovate to create even stronger connections with their customers, we at Nationwide Marketing Group are reinventing connection to, and between, our members through technology. 2020 isn’t the Jetsons-style future that I dreamt of as a kid. Still, I am thrilled to work in a fast-paced, challenging environment with smart, savvy women leading our marketing, services, and web teams every day. With women driving nearly 85% of all consumer purchases, all businesses need women at the table building solutions and cutting-edge customer experiences.
Cheryl Goodman,
Head of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony Electronics
What attracted me to a career in consumer technology was a fascination with gadgets and gizmos - from my best ever received kid gift, an Atari, to my first PC - the Tandy 1000. What kept me engaged was the pace of CE evolution. With Moore’s Law in play, devices were trying to keep up with digitization from music, to movies to the full upending of printed content in publishing. Democratized information via internet access drove how CE products evolved  - truly putting consumers in a position to influence product roadmaps. Women in CE is important in two ways:

One - women influence a significant portion of purchasing power
Two - the revenue and growth opportunity in CE is exponential. The ability to maximize personal wealth (and autonomy) is rooted in high demand, high innovation careers.
Natalie Irigoyen,
VP of Imports and Channel Distribution, Odyssey
My career path into the consumer electronics industry was originally driven by an open opportunity to join my father in his longstanding business.  The moment was ripe for growth within the company and for me personally.  I took what I learned from my very eclectic background in fine goods sales to IT management, and applied it help grow the business in a strategic and organized way.  Altogether, I find this is a rewarding, yet challenging sector for women today.  Challenging because it has long been a male-dominated field, but rewarding and exciting for the opportunity to bring to market items that appeal to the female consumer from a female perspective. I encourage women to come and join in this sector and help create inspiring products by women for women.  As a consumer, I would certainly welcome it as well!
Claire Ona,
Manager, Product Marketing, New Age Electronics, a division of SYNNEX Corporation
A friend of mine mentioned a job opening with the computer company she worked for. I started in customer support and then moved into account management. I was attracted to and enjoyed the dynamic and fast-paced environment, which soon led me to build my career in the sales and management of consumer technology brands. Today, a career in consumer technology is solid ground for the future, as many more products and services will be developed in AI, IoT, the connected home and robotics. The world has changed, and today, women are empowered to reach top leadership positions. One hurdle that remains is the personal awareness from an early age that the world is ready for women leaders and that drive and perseverance will take you places. The world’s doors will open. Having awareness and being empowered early on will pave the way for women to help lead the future of consumer technology.
Rachelle Parks,
PR Manager, TCL
I’ve always had a passion for technology because it impacts our daily lives in significant ways. I like to reminisce about the devices I had growing up because it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come, how much we continue to innovate in the space. That’s why this fast-paced industry excites me - the products are constantly evolving so we’re always learning. Managing tech clients during my PR agency days, I realized that the intersection where technology and entertainment meets is fascinating to me. I love sharing stories about new features that deliver consumers better solutions, like premium TCL TVs that serve as our window to the world, and an escape from it. Technology can be daunting, but women bring unique perspectives that influence those perceptions. Professional growth and career development are key – at an early age, we need to support and encourage girls to become female leaders in tech.
Maryellen Oswald,
Publisher Connected Design, CT Lab Global Media
I entered the consumer tech industry by accident many years ago but approached it with an open mind. I learned quickly that technology is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment but that’s what makes it so exciting! Over the years, I met many amazing women who inspired me with their wealth of knowledge and passion for tech - some of whom mentored me throughout my career. Their advice has always been so valuable to me, especially as I launched Connected Design a few years ago. Much like my story proves, it’s possible to reap the rewards that this industry has to offer with enough grit and determination. My advice to the next generation of women entering this industry is to share your voice, embrace technology and be passionate about what you do.
Krista Haughey,
Regional Sales Manager, AudioQuest
Well it was an accident. My original career path was to become a teacher. When I moved to California back in 1992 I was lucky enough to land a temporary position with Sonance. I absolutely LOVED it and found my new path. The passion I witnessed from people I worked with was addictive. I quickly realized I was outnumbered by the men and frankly, I saw this as an advantage. I knew I could provide a different perspective and help enhance experience for users. I took on the challenge and haven’t looked back! I love to see all the women that have joined our industry. Interestingly enough we are still outnumbered but for sure gaining ground. As far as obstacles, we still have to work on the perception that we don’t understand the technology just because we are women. It’s unfortunate that mindset is still present today. Too often I get a call that starts with, “whom should I talk to about technical information on your product?” I always say, “well let’s start with me…I may know a thing or two.”
Danielle Kantack,
Sales Admin Supervisor,
AVPro Global Holdings, LLC
After being in the finance industry for ten years, being offered a position at AVPro has been the best move I’ve made. Consumer Technology is ever changing and exciting to keep up with. My role, in turn, is constantly evolving and developing. I am proud to say that we employ over sixty women, not just in traditional women’s roles of accounting, admin, and marketing, but in Tech Support, SMT, Engineering, and R&D. There will always be hurdles for women to overcome, especially in a male-dominated industry. A big issue being sexism. I remember working at my first trade show, being told by men I must be a “booth babe”, that there was no way that I could be knowledgeable and look the way I did—It was a hard pill to swallow. It is an industry, where as a female, you need to have a thick skin and a quick wit.
Carrie McKenzie-Bush,
Director of Marketing, Peerless-AV
What attracted me to the technology industry was the intrinsic way that technology impacts everyday life – almost everything we touch, see and experience is shaped, and usually made better, through the integration of technology.  Women are heavy users of technology in all aspects of life, so ensuring their voice is heard during the creation not only improves the products themselves, but the user experience as well. There are still stereotypes out there that discourage young women from pursuing careers in technology. Not only in engineering or product management, but in all aspects of business as it relates to creating and improving tech products… Marketing included.  By keeping women in the industry visible, and staying diligent and supportive in educating the next generation with the opportunities available, the stereotypes will diminish and the talent pool will grow, improving both the workplace and the end products that positively impact our daily lives.
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