Women of Mission Critical Roundtable | To Bridge the Digital Divide, Look Beyond our Industry to Find Innovation Happening at Every Level

LEESBURG, VA – CAPRE’s inaugural Women of Mission Critical Summit dove into some of the most critical issues facing the data center industry, but one panel sought to examine those same issues as they extend beyond our lens. Bridging the Digital Divide: Expanding Inclusivity Beyond the Workplace featured a team of leading ladies from the mission critical space talking about how our work could improve the lives of countless people around the world. About halfway through the panel, Moderator Ilissa Miller, Founder & CEO of iMiller Public Relations and President of NEDAS broached the idea of intercontinental connectivity.

We have an issue with the disparity of our sub-sea cable systems,” declared Miller. “They have such different speeds in bandwidth capabilities – you literally can’t send the same amount of bandwidth combine into the US, out of the US, to say, Africa.”

And before Miller could ask a question, her panelists chose to chime in with insight as to whu and how that happens. For example, Tina Gravel, Senior Vice-President of Channels and Alliances, Cyxtera shared a brief story about that same dynamic in her past projects. “When I was with Terremark, we were building in the Canary Islands, and we were forwarded many, many times by folks that just wanted to take copper or something else,” she remarked. “There’s a lot going on. It’s very, very complex. It’s not just a matter of sending data over the ocean.”

After this discussion concluded, Miller looked to another panelist, Melissa A. Stanislaw, Director of Marketing Strategy and Sales Enablement for ZenFi Networks  to take the discussion in a different direction. ”In urban environments, where ZenFi is, you have to account for a boatload of bandwidth, in anticipation of tomorrow, rather than today, right?” Miller asked.

“Yes. Forget about rural environments, I mean the challenges of dealing with municipalities and regulations in some of the biggest markets of the world is really how we built out business. We’ve just been doing it for so long,” replied Stanislaw. “But to go back to the earlier point, I’m a bit of an optimist. My footprint has always been working in the New York City metro area. I’ve never worked for a global company. But I’ve been an advisory member to the Pacific Telecom Council and I’m an Innovation Awards judge, and I did that because I wanted to see what kind of innovations were going on around the world.”

“And if we start looking at the innovations – and by the way, they’re happening by millennials – that are happening at such a fast rate, they’re happening because their lives depend on it,” she continued, passionately. “There was story out of the Samoan Islands about a high school student who came up with the concept of shared cars in his community. That might not sound like much to us, but the girls there were walking to schools for a couple of miles, because they didn’t have any infrastructure, and they were getting raped and pillaged. And this high school student, a STEM student, came up with this idea. And it wasn’t rocket science – how do we purchase two cars for the community?”

Melissa Stanislaw, Director – Marketing Strategy and Sales Enablement, ZenFi Networks

According to Stanislaw, this particular young man visited a local college to get a grant, and then he partnered with his local municipality. “This is what’s happening all over the world.  We’re all in our little silos, saying, I have this infrastructure, and then this company has that. But I love what companies Microsoft are doing,” she asserted, referring to the tech giant’s lauded partnerships with communities to engender enablement and accessibility.

“Obviously there’s a revenue model behind it and they want business out of it, but they’re making sure that they touch on innovation at every level,” she stressed. “And I’m just super passionate about that. Our product is just one model that I happen to think works really well, in any community. But these kids are working together to innovate these life-saving ideas, so we’ve all got to work together and collaborate and get on-board.”

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