MCWT, CIOs Convene to Discuss the ‘Internet of Life’

NOVI  – More than 800 technology professionals from Michigan met Wednesday at the Suburban Collection Showplace to hear Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Jim Hackett and other business leaders discuss how mobility and connectivity are shaping the future.

The executives explored the concept of “the Internet of Life,” where ubiquitous connectivity transforms lifestyles and Business models. The event centered on using technology and innovation to make people’s lives better.

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation hosted the 5th annual Executive Connection Summit, sponsored by Ford, FCA US LLC, and General Motors.

The industry is in the middle of one of its most transformational periods and with jobs in technology-related fields expected to grow to more than 9 million in the next five years, we want to make sure we are inspiring the next generation of creators and innovators in Michigan and beyond,” said Rekha Wunnava, Ford Motor Co. IT director. “At Ford, we continue to drive innovation and encourage our employees to think about how technology will help deliver better solutions for the future.”

Technology leaders from the three automakers convened for a panel discussion on the role of IT in the growing mobility sector.

“The speed that our business is expecting from us today is radically different compared to just three to four years ago,” said Davide Ferina, CIO, FCA North America. “Autonomous vehicles and increased demands for innovation require that we focus on optimizing costs, be fast in everything we do, and that we continually invest in our talent.”

Randy Mott, senior vice president and global CIO for GM, continues to serve as a champion for the ECS event.

“Our IT and business teams are developing applications and tools to help propel the future of personal mobility,” Mott said. “The emergence of autonomy, electrification and connectivity technologies, as well as car- and ride-sharing services, places us at the center of an incredible transformation. This creates great opportunities in technology careers. For example, GM hired people with STEM backgrounds at a rate of one every 26 minutes last year.”

Lila Lazarus, journalist and TV producer, moderated a technology leadership panel featuring BNSF Railway Senior Vice President and CIO Jo-ann Olsovsky; JP Morgan CTO Helen Sun; and TD Ameritrade CIO Vijay Sankaran. The executives discussed finding and fostering diverse talent, asserting that talent does not need to come solely from traditional computer science programs given technology’s ever-present role in business today.

“MCWT’s mission is to inspire and grow women in technology and the Executive Connection Summit does just that,” said MCWT President Carey Pachla. “Access to prominent female executives and information on the latest IT trends like the Internet of Life helps sharpen skills and keep talent engaged so that they continually advance in their careers.”

Other sponsors of the event were AT&T, Dynatrace, Executive Search Partners, TD Ameritrade, Fast Switch, NiTS Solutions and Access Vertiv Libert.

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation’s vision is to make Michigan the No. 1 state for women in technology. The organization supports Michigan’s female IT workforce, students, corporate partners, schools and the overall community with programming, scholarships, networking, learning, mentoring, and technology experiences. Find more information at

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