IM Local Edition – Dallas
Infrastructure Masons held a half-day Local Meetup on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, TX on Sep 28, 2017. About 30 members and guests attended the meeting, the first to be held by a local organizing committee. End-User Advisory Council member Eddie Schutter led the session, along with iMasons Executive Director Mark Monroe. The agenda included workshop sessions on the iMasons 50-50 diversity initiative and the “Birds of a Feather” session on local Dallas issues.
Volkan Otugen, Senior Associate Dean of the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU hosted the event in the Embrey Engineering building. Dr. Ortugen was the driving force behind creation of SMU’s Data Center Systems Engineering Master’s program, one of the first programs in the United States to offer students coursework and a degree specifically oriented towards infrastructure and data centers. Having the iMasons meeting so close to the students provided an opportunity for iMasons to interact with them, increasing the students’ knowledge of the industry and their potential desire to seek employment in our field.
The agenda for the meeting consisted of two workshop sessions. The first was focused on brainstorming ideas to be included in an iMasons 50-50 hiring guide, a short publication on recruiting more female tech talent. The attendees spend 30 minutes recording ideas within the small groups, and another half hour reporting out to each other on the ideas that came to them while in the individual table sessions. There were a lot of great ideas, and all of them are recorded in the workshop Google sheet, http://bit.ly/imdfw1 . Some of the highlights:
- broadcasting to the industry and media that iMasons is leading the effort to recruit and value more women in technology
- making sure the message broadcast to the industry and media is that “we CARE about having more women in our industry”
- communicating industry engineering pay scale to colleges and high school counselors. avg entry level data . enter manager $100,000-$150,000 a fellow(VP) $200k-$250k
- intervening at an earlier age, like making middle- and high school students aware of career possibilities
- connecting with females were transitioning out of technical military disciplines
- partner with women’s networks like AITP and the Women’s Forum for networking and discussion
- reduce “coding and techie” stigma. Make it cool to be in tech, and make it clear you don’t have to know how to code. There are plenty of roles for other tinkerers
- get to high school career counselors with information about the industry
- focus on women in cybersecurity (highest concentration of female industry)
- keep women leading the charge. Do everything we can to keep those that we have
Overall, the group came up with more than 57 ideas in the 30-minute session.
After a networking break, the group got down to work again. This time the topic was intended to inspire broad discussion crossed four different topic areas, all related to infrastructure industry in Dallas area. Four questions were considered, but almost nothing was off limits. “What’s happening in the digital infrastructure industry in DFW? What unique challenges should iMasons focus on in this area? How does iMasons attract End User owner/operators to meetings? What’s important to them?”
The group put their heads together for 30 minutes again, then described their insights to the other tables. Once again, all of the information generated is available in the sheet that was used to track the session. http://bit/ly/imdfw2. Over 40 individual ideas were recorded, including:
- have meetings with end-users only; develop a reputation for holding exclusive meetings that others will want to fight their way into
- find out what Dallas area end-users issues are, what they want to learn about to get them to come to the meetings
- hold meetings in the morning; there seems to be a cultural difference around leaving the office in Dallas compared to Silicon Valley
- have each member (iMason) bring a guest
- emphasize the focus on our initiatives like 50/50 to get them interested
- very limited sponsorships, if any, at events; keep presence low-key so meetings do not seem vendor driven
- genuine networking to help with reach out and create a buzz via word-of-mouth
- include more “up the stack” discussions (IT oriented)
The team decided to try and schedule a follow-on meeting quickly, and to only invite end-users. Intent was to get a small core group excited about iMasons in Dallas. Some initial meeting details were discussed, and the team decided to begin weekly planning meetings immediately.
Detailed notes from the session are available in the iMasons’ collaboration system. If you attended a Local Edition session, you should have an account. If you have trouble accessing your collaboration account, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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