Name Tags, Networking and New Opportunities

By: Erin Hoolihan

“I’ve always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.”

― Gloria Vanderbilt, “It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir.”

Over the past year, three women’s networking groups at UPMC grew out of one common goal: to create opportunities for empowerment, growth and engagement.

“Women in Information Technology (WIT) started with the idea that the Information Services Division (ISD) needs to do a better job of promoting, retaining and inspiring women on career paths in technology,” Ed McCallister, chief information officer at ISD of UPMC, said.

With that same inspiration, Female Leadership, Innovation, and Growth in Healthcare & Technology (FLIGHT) and Women Inspiring Talent in Healthcare in Finance (WITH Finance) formed to engage women within UPMC Enterprises and UPMC Finance, respectively.

FLIGHT, WIT and WITH Finance are dedicated to helping other women succeed. Historically, women are underrepresented in finance, engineering, and information technology (IT). While that is not the case for Finance at UPMC, it is for ISD and UPMC Enterprises.

Together, these groups are organizing events, including community outreach, knowledge sharing and providing opportunities for plenty of networking. Each activity is designed to promote and support talent within UPMC and raise awareness for the opportunities that exist for women in the community interested in finance or technology.

womenIn recognition of International Women’s Day, members of FLIGHT, WIT and WITH Finance, along with colleagues from across UPMC, gathered in the UPMC Center for Connected Medicine to celebrate professional accomplishments, network and raise awareness about their groups.

Making a Space for Connections

“Networking is critical,” said Jennifer Mondi, director of finance at UPMC and a leader of WITH Finance. “We are all a lot more successful when we have people within reach rather than needing to hunt for who can help.”

FLIGHT, WIT and WITH Finance know that a strong network can open doors and provide a support system for women — something that is especially important when starting a new role or working to grow within a position. Anyone who attends the events, whether they are hoping to make a career change or looking to expand their network, are guaranteed to benefit from participating.

“It’s building that network for everybody because we all need to have mentors who can provide assistance for things outside of your day to day,” Mondi said. “People need to see there is a group that cares about them and wants them to be successful.”

WITH Finance is engaging their female staff — 70 percent of UPMC Finance — through networking and small interest groups. In addition to supporting the women they have within their department, WIT is also working to increase their numbers by inspiring employees around UPMC to consider roles within technology, engineering and entrepreneurship.

This year, all three groups are working together to develop another layer of support through a mentoring program that is effective and sustainable to support women and men within finance, ISD, and UPMC Enterprises.

Creating Opportunities for Growth and Giving Back

The women’s networking groups have a commitment to lifting up the community, as well as the women within UPMC.

Networking events double as an avenue for giving back. All attendees to the International Women’s Day celebration were encouraged to make a donation to WIT’s anchor charity, Dress for Success Pittsburgh, a foundation that provides women in need with professional clothes and accessories as they prepare for job interviews.

Just as WIT partners with Dress for Success, WITH Finance works with United Way.

In addition to community service, FLIGHT and WIT have external initiatives that focus on engaging young professionals in the community and reaching out to students.

womenFLIGHT regularly holds panel discussions, open to the technical community in Pittsburgh. These sessions focus on topics including bias in artificial intelligence, data informatics, and entrepreneurship. The interest in these conversations, and the learning and networking opportunities that come along with them, is evident by the number of attendees.

“We want to share the love with start-ups that don’t have a large organization supporting them,” said Tara Williams, associate product manager at UPMC Enterprises and a leader of FLIGHT.

Similarly, WIT isn’t limiting its reach to just women in IT at UPMC. Leaders from all areas of ISD are leading WIT to regularly speak on panels, attend conferences and visit schools regionally to raise awareness for opportunities available in IT.

The WIT external outreach team visited four schools in March alone.

“We are trying to inspire and spark an interest in these younger women, whether it’s in coding, health care analytics, cyber security, systems engineers, help desk — all of the things we do that people don’t traditionally think about when they consider jobs in health care and hospitals,” said Julie Prough, director of ISD.

From inspiring future generations and creating opportunities for growth to giving back to the community and engaging employees around the organization, FLIGHT, WIT and WITH Finance are strengthening UPMC and the communities it serves today and for years to come.