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ITSMF awards gala honors talent and support

Top-level African American IT pros gathered to recognize individuals and the corporation of the year: Lowe’s

The symposium theme was change in a VUCA world

In February, the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF, itsmfonline.org) threw itself a party in Charlotte, NC. The occasion was the ninth annual executive achievement awards dinner, which has grown from the first modest event in 2005 to this year’s full-fledged gala with 500 in attendance.

ITSMF was founded in 1996, and aims to support the advancement of African American IT professionals to high executive levels. Its members are senior African American IT executives. Many are CIOs, and all are within one or two levels of the top IT positions in their organizations.

A structured and individualized mentoring program is the organization’s central activity; other programs include a leadership academy for mid and senior-level executives and the recently launched Information and Communication Technology Vision2020. ICT Vision2020 is a collaboration of ITSMF, IT staffing firm Global Novations and nine HBCUs designed to improve graduation rates of African American IT students.

The quarterly ITSMF symposium gatherings include roundtables, workshops and plenty of networking.

Change in a VUCA world
The theme of the February symposium was “business transformation in a VUCA world: from surviving to thriving.” ITSMF chairperson Douglas Ash, VP and CIO for global training and logistics at Lockheed Martin, noted that the theme invited participants to “discover leading-edge strategies to transform the impossible into opportunities.” The world of IT, he observed, is changing rapidly, and IT practitioners can help steer their organizations successfully through a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

Awards and recognition
The February event recognized home improvement giant Lowe’s Companies Inc for its generosity to ITSMF, and its “willingness to partner with ITSMF in support of shared goals.” As the palladium sponsor of the symposium and awards event, Lowe’s contributed at the $100,000 level. The symposium venue in Charlotte is near Lowe’s headquarters in Mooresville, NC, and Lowe’s took the role of event host.

Clarissa Felts, Lowe’s VP of collaboration, diversity and inclusion, welcomed attendees to Charlotte; Lowe’s chairman and CEO, Robert Niblock, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Individual awards went to Martin B. Davis, head of enterprise technology services at Wells Fargo, and LaTasha Gary, senior director of corporate administration and shared services at HP, along with several other IT professionals and entrepreneurs.

“We salute tonight’s award recipients for their innovation in the IT industry and their commitment to the development and advancement of diverse talent,” said Viola Maxwell-Thompson, ITSMF executive director.

Sponsorship and support
Besides Lowe’s, corporate sponsors of the event included Deloitte, HP, Procter and Gamble and Microsoft at the platinum level, and Bank of America, Cisco, PGi and Wells Fargo at the diamond level. Thirty-plus additional corporations, organizations and individuals also provided support.

The 2014 executive achievement awards event and first-quarter symposium will take place in Dallas, TX on February 6. PepsiCo will be the premier sponsor, Maxwell-Thompson reports.

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