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For Women With IT Backgrounds, the Sky's the Limit

Successful women executives often combine expertise in technology with business savvy.

A foundation in technology can launch a successful business career, notes Renee Bergeron, VP of managed services and cloud computing at Ingram Micro, North America. Today's women in technology are not trapped in front of a computer screen, but enjoy customer meetings, presentations, travel and teamwork. —Jennifer Bosavage, editor

From my university days, to my early work as a computer programmer, and now, as vice president of managed services and cloud computing for Ingram Micro, the world’s largest technology distributor, I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. And while I have spent my entire career in the technology business, my professional path is one that has not been marked by challenges – but by opportunities.

[Related: A Leadership Mindset: Practical Advice for Women in Tech ]

That’s why I believe it’s important for up-and-coming female executives to know that a background in technology can be a springboard to a very long and successful business career. Young women just starting out in college should know that technology and business go hand in hand today, and the more you can embrace technology, the more successful you may become. My own resume, including my current leadership role in one of Ingram Micro’s fastest-growing divisions, is proof positive of that.

It’s no secret that technology has re-shaped the way the world works today. It’s the backbone of nearly every sector of any industry which is great career advantage for those of us with a deeper understanding of technology and how it drives new strategies and opportunities. If you can get a handle on both sides – technology and business – then not only do you personally gain an edge, but your knowledge can also be put to work to give a marketable advantage to your business or employer.

Case in point: The value of IT as a business driver has led to an increase in the number of CIOs who move on to become CEOs, taking on top leadership positions in major companies around the world. And for those just starting out in business, a career in technology can lead to diversified management roles, setting the stage for increasingly greater levels of responsibility.

Despite such incentives, the number of women earning degrees in technical fields is not on the rise today. When I earned my bachelor’s degree in computer science, women represented only 10 percent of the computer science undergraduate population. Yet today, in universities across North America, that number hasn’t changed. Women still make up no more than 10 percent of the graduating class in technology-related fields. That must change.

One way to get these numbers to increase is to dispel the myth that careers in technology translate into long hours at a desk in front of a computer screen, with little or no human interaction. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. My days are filled with industry conferences, customer meetings, presentations, travel and teamwork.

It’s a demanding and rewarding field for men and women, which is why I take every opportunity to encourage people at the collegiate level to gain a better understanding of the business side of technology -- especially women.

I’ve never regretted my decision to go into computer science. For me, it has provided the privilege and honor of working with and learning from many smart and seasoned executives and entrepreneurs. And through the years, I’ve come to believe that the most successful organizations and business leaders know how to leverage diversity -- not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of cultures, people and products. I’m proud to work for a company that takes that belief to heart.

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