By Matt Pillar, chief editor
The work my friend and colleague Abby Sorensen put into the IT Channel is paying dividends even after she shifted her focus to the greater software business community. Last week at its RetailNOW event, the Retail Solutions Providers Association’s Women-to-Women (W2W) Committee named her its 2018 Leader Of The Year. Committee Chair and business owner Kelli Stewart, owner/operations manager at Advanced Data Systems, bestowed the honors from the mainstage.
Abby, to her chagrin, was not able to attend the event and was unaware she’d be honored. She was here in our home office making waves in the software space, where she’s captaining the ship we call Software Executive magazine after serving us for several years as a channel-focused events producer and editor.
She still puts full-time effort into her part time attention to Channel Executive, VARinsights.com, and MSPinsights.com. She’s our executive editor and our lead protagonist for appropriate gender and minority editorial inclusion. That order isn’t quite as tall in the software space as it is in the channel, but it’s still a challenge and Abby’s paying attention to it.
In fact, in revealing Abby’s honor, Stewart cited this column that Abby wrote for us to support the case for her Leader of the Year selection. That was a fitting citation, given the level of pushback the article drew from a certain sub segment of defensive and insecure men. Leaders don’t bow to the pressure of a vocal minority.
It was also a potentially ironic citation, given the criticism of poorly-executed “women in the channel” programs that Abby doled out in her column. For the RSPA’s part, the W2W Committee is getting it right, no doubt in part thanks to Abby’s influence. W2W’d mission is to “unite, lift and empower women in technology by providing educational opportunities and peer to peer collaboration in a supportive environment.” The committee was created to provide a support network and resources for women as they enter and continue to advance in the retail technology industry. It isn’t exclusive to RSPA members -- any and all female retail technology professionals can join. In addition to shaping its own events and networking opportunities, the committee advises on content development and presenter selection for the W2W event at RetailNOW and curates a monthly newsletter on topic unique to women in retail tech.
The W2W Leader of the Year award, new in 2018, was created “to recognize a woman in the Retail Technology Industry, who is determined to reshape the industry and create a smarter and more inclusive future. The honor recognizes a woman who has demonstrated key characteristics of a pioneer paving the way in the retail technology industry.” These include, per the RSPA:
Abby and I have had a lot of engaging and fun conversations about women in tech. We’ve had even more fun ridiculing the dolts in our industry who choose to ignore the value of diversity and talent that women can bring to the space if we’d only welcome them to do so. In fact, we’re going to soon record a Channel Voice podcast on the topic. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, congratulations to Abby. It’s a well-deserved honor.