South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Jason Steinfeld

South Florida Tech Hub: Pioneering Wellness to Combat Burnout

Read Time 5 Minutes

As the demands of the tech industry continue to evolve, so do the pressures and stresses that come with it. South Florida Tech Hub’s Women’s Council and HealthTech & Life Science peer groups came together to discuss the topic of “Beyond Burnout: Cultivating Resilience In Work and Life.”

Sponsored by NRG VR, the event was held at ModMed located at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus in Boca Raton and featured a keynote speaker, panel discussion, exhibit tables and networking. Celine Kaiser, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Specialty Business at ModMed and Vice Chair of South Florida Tech Hub’s Women’s Council welcomed everyone to the venue.

Opening speaker, Dr. Morgan Levy, a clinical psychologist and executive coach, is passionate about helping professionals enhance all areas of their lives and embrace all parts of their identity without giving up their drive, motivation, and perseverance. She has been a past speaker for previous South Florida Tech Hub events such as SoFlo DevCon, South Florida’s largest developer conference. Dr. Morgan opened up the eveings discussion with a keynote on “The Power of Presence: Cultivating Well-Being Beyond Work.” 

In a career-driven society, it’s really easy to become consumed by our work and ignore other aspects of our lives. However, finding meaning in our lives outside of work can help us be more productive in our work. Attendees learned the role that perfectionism and burnout plays on mental health as well as gain a deeper understanding into the importance of valuing our identity beyond our work roles. “You can have success in the workplace without sacrificing who you are,” Dr. Levy stated.

The Panel was made up of a group of professionals who expressed cultivating wellness in a variety of ways. Panelists included:

Event sponsor and panelist, PJ Ware, is also the Founder & CEO of NRG VR, a company on a mission to support individuals mental health by providing a variety of meditation experiences through virtual reality (VR) technology in breathtaking locations around the world using nature as therapy. Employee wellness and well-being is a new untapped element of virtual reality in which NRG is pioneering. PJ played a crucial role in the panel discussion giving examples of how technology can combat the tresses of every day life and offer a solution towards mental wellness.

NRG VR is dedicated to helping individuals navigate daily stress, whether it’s the fast-paced environment of corporations, within scary or stressful healthcare settings, or the pressures of everyday life faced by teens and adults. The VR technology allows you to enter a world where the boundaries of physical locations melt away. transporting you to the tranquil beaches of California, Bali, Florida, and Spain, as well as the cliffs of Australia and Hawaii, the mountains of Utah, and the Buddhist temples of Thailand. Their exotic locations provide the virtual mental escape you need. With NRG VR Meditation, you can personalize your journey to serve you best: Guided Meditation & Breathwork, Sound Escapes, or Voice Therapy.

Prior to the panel discussion, attendees had the chance to connect and interact with the different panelists products such as the NRG VR headset, Dr. Krista Imre and her table of naturopathic medicine from her company Live Wellness, and Katherine Murphy from NAMI Palm Beach County, an organization dedicated to providing support, education and advocacy with the goal to empower persons with mental illness and their families. There was even a table for Charleston Coffee Roasters handing out free samples for all guests.

NRG VR provided a VR simulation before the panel so people could witness the immersive experience for themselves. He told South Florida Tech Hub, “It’s great to express the imperative need for this on behalf of the ‘Cultivating Resilience’ event.  I’m grateful for South Florida Tech Hub’s work in providing evnts like this.” 

He continued, “South Florida Tech Hub is what we’ve needed for a long time. We haven’t really had a place where the community can come together like this.” 

The event was a must-attend for anyone looking to lead a more fulfilled life by managing work stress, understanding the pitfalls of perfectionism, and reclaiming a sense of self beyond their professional identity. This will be the first of many more discussions around mental health for technology professionals.

Attendee, Mirna Eusebio Lithgow, an Advisory Board Member for Intellias and Founder and CEO of LeapView Group, posted on social media some of her insights from the event’s discussion stating, “It is inspiring to see how tech companies are bringing innovation to healthcare centers, such as using VR to provide experiences to patients and help them appreciate life and enjoy a moment of joy traveling virtually.”

She posted, “We heard about best practices to boost Wellness and Self-Care in your everyday and with our teams; here are some tips shared:”

✅ Take time to do intentional breathing using the box technique.
✅ Go for a 15-minute green walk.
✅ Schedule walking meetings with your team.
✅ Offload your mind before sleeping; build a to-do list before bedtime.
✅ Schedule emails to go out the next day, instead of late at night.

Our panel moderator, Chair of the Tech Hub Women’s Council, and Co-Founder & COO of Focus Glogal Talent Solutions, Brittany Fox, works with tech professionals every day from data science, to artificial intelligence to c-suite executives in the tech space. She understands the stres factors in working with such professionals, but also being a founder in the tech space herself. 

“You want to give the audience the opportunity to learn from different perspectives,” Brittany told South Florida Tech Hub. “From mental health to your physical body to how meditation can play into their mental health and also technology is a big part of it.”

Want to learn more about getting involved in Tech Hub? Become a member by visiting www.techhubsouthflorida.org/membership

By Adam Elitzur

New Leadership at the Helm of South Florida’s Tech Hub

Read Time 5 Minutes

South Florida Tech Hub is under new board leadership for 2024 with Deana Pizzo, CEO at I.T. Solutions of South Florida, taking over as chair and Grace Kurian, Executive Director at NextEra Energy, as vice chair.

Deana Pizzo has been involved in the tech industry for two decades. “I like to serve for non-profits. And the fact that the South Florida Tech Hub is a non-profit within my industry, I felt it was an organization that I really wanted to be part of. I wanted to help strengthen the tech footprint in South Florida and I felt that the Tech Hub was the best place for me to serve.”

Grace Kurian has been working with NextEra Energy for 22 years, and most recently has been leading the digital journey for the nuclear fleet. “Having grown up in South Florida, I have a passion to see the region grow our technology footprint, so that it continues to be a great place to live and work,” Kurian remarked. “I connected with the South Florida Tech Hub when I served on the board of TechLauderdale. When Tech Hub joined forces to include the entire tri-county area, it was exciting for me both personally and professionally because I lived and worked in Palm Beach, grew up in Fort Lauderdale, and I felt like we were bringing the unique strengths of the tri-county together.”

Pizzo, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her company, I.T. Solutions of South Florida, has goals to unify the tech community in South Florida. “The primary goal is collaboration,” Pizzo stated. “Right now we are working on taking the three counties, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade and creating a tech sector in the South Florida market. That is something that I want to continue pursuing this year and continue driving home. Collaboration for the tech community within South Florida.”

Kurian strives to expand the technology ecosystem. “I want to make sure that tech executives and professionals feel that South Florida is a great place to attract, develop and grow talent,” Kurian stated. “Florida’s economy is bigger than that of many countries. Our businesses are a vital part of Florida’s economic growth.”

Pizzo and Kurian are both looking forward to the role. “I’m very excited to lead the organization this year,” Pizzo remarked. “I’m very excited that at the helm are three women this year. Nikki, as the CEO, myself as chair and Grace as vice chair. I’m really excited about making a difference for girls in tech this year.”

“I have been in the energy and utility industry for more than two decades, so I’m excited to connect with technology professionals, beyond the energy sector, who are right here in my backyard,” Kurian stated.

Pizzo recognizes challenges that she is determined to overcome this year. “The biggest challenges right now are creating unity within the tech community in South Florida,” Pizzo mentioned. “It can be a little fractured. And this particular organization, the Tech Hub, we don’t want to take over where any other organization is. We want to help bring all of the different organizations together.”

Kurian sees another challenge. “Skill sets are constantly evolving and the programming language I learned when I first started my career after college is not what we need today,” Kurian remarked. “Attracting tech talent, but also keeping those skills fresh so that we are constantly innovating and keeping our skills current is a challenge we have to tackle. But one of our greatest opportunities is that the public and private sector are investing in powering our businesses with AI and the latest technology. So I feel that our trajectory in tech is bright.”

Both see major opportunities in capitalizing on emerging technologies like AI. “Data is king, and how businesses capitalize on that data to make good decisions by leveraging AI, by leveraging technology, which will be the differentiator between good and great businesses,” Kurian noted.

Fostering diversity is also a key focus. The Tech Hub works with organizations to inspire girls to pursue tech careers as early as high school. “We have a really strong women’s group and we foster the collaboration of women within tech,” Pizzo explained.

“I’m really excited that I get to work with two very talented women, Deana and Nikki,” Kurian stated. “I believe that diversity is not just diversity of gender and ethnicity, but diversity of thought. Inspiring more people to pursue careers, and sharing that this is a potential career path for young students who are thinking about where to start is important. I hope that the organization continues to grow, but also continues to diversify as more programs are opened up to students early on. One program that I’m really excited about is that the Tech Hub was a catalyst for bringing to South Florida the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp for high school students.”

Pizzo and Kurian have distinctive leadership qualities. “I like to describe them as three tenets: character, commitment, and curiosity,” Kurian shared. “Character is showing up. Commitment is being fully devoted to the organization’s mission and values. And lastly, curiosity is being a continuous learner.”

The Tech Hub has an active year planned under Pizzo and Kurian’s leadership, including the Golden Palms Awards in August and TECHpalooza in December. “We just had our golf tournament, which was a huge success,” Pizzo stated. “We’re really looking forward to Golden Palms. We already have the wheels turning on TECHpalooza and it’s going to be huge. We’re moving it to a new location at the convention center, and it will knock it out of the park this year.”

Pizzo and Kurian offered advice for aspiring technology leaders. “Don’t take no for an answer,” Pizzo stated. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and you can find it. Work hard and be a good person.”

“Be willing to learn and take risks,” Kurian recommended. “Be willing to listen to the ideas of other individuals and have a willingness to experiment and innovate so that we are incrementally finding improvements that will be game changers over time.”

Pizzo envisions a bright future for the Tech Hub. “I see the Tech Hub in a few years as the pivotal go-to tech organization in South Florida that everybody can go to to find tech resources for the whole region. We can get there through collaboration and relationships.”

Kurian is hopeful for the future of the region. “I hope that the businesses that are here today have a bigger footprint in South Florida” Kurian stated. “I also hope that we’ve attracted a wide range of national and international businesses so that South Florida will be synonymous with the Silicon Valley of the South.”

By Nikki Cabus

Ryder Systems women are celebrated for supply chain leadership

Read Time 3 Minutes

Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE: R)celebrates three female leaders as recipients of the 2023 Women in Supply Chain awards from Supply & Demand Chain Executive and Food Logistics magazines.

The 4th annual award honors female supply chain leaders whose accomplishments, mentorship, and examples set a foundation for women in all levels of a company’s supply chain network.

Ryder System, Inc. is a leading logistics and transportation company. It provides supply chain, dedicated transportation, and fleet management solutions, including warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, last-mile delivery, managed transportation, professional drivers, freight brokerage, full-service leasing, maintenance, commercial truck rental, and used vehicle sales to some of the world’s most-recognized brands. Ryder provides services throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. In addition, Ryder manages nearly 260,000 commercial vehicles and operates approximately 300 warehouses encompassing more than 95 million square feet.

This year’s honorees from Ryder are:

  • Cherie Brinkerhoff, vice president of supply chain solutions, for championing a new workforce development initiative within the retail, technology, and healthcare vertical at Ryder. With logistics engineers in short supply, Brinkerhoff is piloting an internship program for employees interested in exploring supply chain engineering. By temporarily backfilling the interns’ regular positions, it’s a risk-free opportunity to develop new skills and showcase them in a way that provides additional opportunities for growth.
  • Cristy Gallo-Aquino, senior vice president, controller, and principal accounting officer, for building the women’s leadership and support network at Ryder. A founding member of Ryder Women Leadership (RWL) in 2010 and a 13-year executive sponsor of the group, Gallo-Aquino continues to reach deeper into the company to identify female leaders in customer warehouses and truck maintenance, rental, and lease locations, as well as central support service locations, across North America. And, she’s expanded the educational component of RWL, because she believes that knowledge is power.
  • Mauryo Jones, vice president for safety, health, and security, for building leading indicators for proactive safety measurements rather than relying on lagging indicators, such as injury and crash frequency rates, to measure the effectiveness of safety performance. Working with Ryder’s strategic analytics and data science team, Jones is utilizing vehicle safety technology, incident management systems and apps, as well as driver training to build the leading indicators that help Ryder focus on key injury and crash mitigation areas, predict future trends, and prevent undesired outcomes.

“If you want to bring about new ideas and innovative approaches to tackling challenges and solving problems, then you have to bring together people with different backgrounds and experiences,” says Diana Anderson, vice president of talent management and human resources at Ryder.

“That’s why talent development is central to everything we do at Ryder.”

Diana Anderson currently leads the Talent Management operations for Ryder System, Inc. She is responsible for leading succession planning, performance management and leadership development practices. Diana also provides human resources business support to the executive team. Prior to this position, Diana worked with AutoNation for 10 years within the Human Resources function.

Ryder is regularly recognized for its industry-leading practices in recruitment and hiring of a diverse workforce to develop, promote, and retain the best talent to engage employees and drive innovation.

For the full list of the 2023 Women in Supply Chain award winners from Supply & Demand Chain Executive and Food Logistics magazines, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

ModMed doubles down on efforts to empower young girls in tech with Pace Center for Girls Broward

Read Time 4 Minutes

ModMed and Pace Center for Girls Broward double down on their efforts to empower high school girls and promote the technology industry. This collaboration seeks to inspire the next generation of female technologists and expand their horizons when it comes to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

ModMed’s Women in Innovation & Technology, or “mmWIT,” is focused on advancing women in STEM fields by fostering diversity and inclusion within the tech sector. mmWIT is an Employee Resource Group that provides support, mentorship, and resources to empower women in technology-related careers. This program develops and enables women to lead and innovate as they grow in their professional careers. mmWIT hosts educational panel discussions, mentoring events, networking gatherings, book clubs and community outreach programs. Through mmWIT, ModMed strives to establish a strong community for women to reach their highest potential.

Pace Center for Girls envisions a world where all girls and young women have power, in a just and equitable society. Founded in 1985, Pace provides free year-round middle and high school academics, case management, counseling, and life skills development in a safe and supportive environment that recognizes and deals with past trauma and builds upon girls’ individual strengths. Dedicated to meeting the social, emotional, and educational needs of girls, Pace has a successful and proven program model that has changed the life trajectory of more than 40,000 girls and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for girls in need.

For more than four years, mmWIT and Pace Center for Girls Broward have worked hand in hand to champion women in STEM.

An early effort was mmWIT’s 2018 Fashion Show to raise funds for the Pace Center for Girls Broward. ModMed’s employees received a casting call and the response was amazing. As if strutting their stuff down the catwalk for a good cause wasn’t enough, the model who sold the most raffle tickets won a prize: an outfit they wore on the runway. That event raised over $4000 for the Pace Center for Girls.

Their joint efforts are designed to introduce high school girls to the vast potential of a tech career and encourage more women to pursue opportunities in this dynamic industry. By broadening the perspectives of young women, this collaboration not only advances women in STEM but also motivates them to explore the myriad of possibilities available at forward-thinking companies like ModMed®.

Headquartered in Boca Raton, ModMed is transforming healthcare around the countryy by placing doctors and patients at the center of care through an intelligent, specialty-specific cloud platform. With our electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) systems, and our patient engagement and revenue cycle management (RCM) services, our all-in-one solution empowers specialty medical practices by providing clinical, financial and operational software solutions. Our staff physicians help to develop products and services for allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, OBGYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry and urology practices, as well as ambulatory surgery centers.

The “Life After High School” Event: Inspiring and Equipping the Next Generation

The “Life After High School” event is a standout collaboration between mmWIT and Pace Center for Girls Broward. Esteemed women from the technology industry come together to share their insights and personal journeys with the students. The panel discussion covers a wide range of essential topics, including effective communication skills, professionalism in the tech industry, the transition from high school to the professional world, and the art of collaboration with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Through these discussions, the aim is to provide the young audience with the valuable knowledge they need to seize limitless opportunities and excel in their chosen paths.

Rose Anderson, Career & College Readiness Coordinator at Pace Center for Girls Broward, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration with mmWIT, saying, “This event perfectly aligns with our mission to empower girls and equip them with the necessary skills and confidence to thrive in their future careers. We are immensely grateful to ModMed for their unwavering support and commitment to advancing women in STEM.”

The panelists, accomplished women with diverse backgrounds in technology, will leverage their expertise and experiences to engage and inspire the Pace girls. Through this event, ModMed and Pace Center for Girls Broward aim to provide young women with the skills and confidence they need to flourish in their future careers.

Breaking Barriers

Girls aspiring to enter the tech field sometimes struggle due to factors such as the lack of visible role models, gender stereotypes and biases, a lack of support and encouragement, and the challenge of maintaining work-life balance. To address these issues, it is important to provide girls with mentorship, promote diversity and inclusivity and ensure equal access to education and resources.

The collaboration between mmWIT and Pace Center for Girls Broward represents a significant stride toward creating a more inclusive and diverse tech industry. By inspiring and empowering high school girls, this collaboration aims to pave the way for a new generation of female technologists who will drive innovation and contribute to a more equitable future. Together, they are dismantling barriers, breaking stereotypes, and creating a brighter and more inclusive tomorrow for women in technology.

Jodi Sherman, senior manager of customer success operations at ModMed and the President of mmWIT, shared her views on how the collaboration with the Pace Center for Girls Broward is making a difference. Sherman stated, “By sharing our experiences and knowledge, we hope to ignite the passion and curiosity of these high school girls, encouraging them to pursue careers in the technology industry. We firmly believe that by increasing the representation of women in STEM, we can drive innovation and create a more inclusive and diverse future.”

South Florida Tech Hub: Pioneering Wellness to Combat Burnout
New Leadership at the Helm of South Florida’s Tech Hub
Ryder Systems women are celebrated for supply chain leadership
ModMed doubles down on efforts to empower young girls in tech with Pace Center for Girls Broward