Earlier this month at Cisco Live Melbourne, the Empowered Women’s Network (EWN) announced the inaugural winners of the 2019 Women in IT Awards, the day before International Women’s Day.

The awards acknowledged our customers and partners and the exceptional women who have achieved success through their invaluable leadership, innovation and commitment to our technology industry, honouring seven winners across six categories, spanning Academia, Community, Diversity, Rising Star, ICT Technology Innovation and CIO of the Year.

Congratulations to all our award winners! You can find out more about their amazing achievements below!


Academia Award Winner: Lihong Zheng of Charles Sturt University

The Academia Award is dedicated to a Cisco Networking Academy instructor who  has accelerated and advanced her career beyond typical performance expectations while providing exceptional leadership and mentorship, inspiring students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and who has contributed to the broader STEM community.

Lihong Zheng is known for her significant contribution to Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), tirelessly working to generate awareness for Cisco Networking Academy courses amongst students, with Charles Stuart University in the top spot with the most students enrolled in Networking Academy Courses across Australia.

Ms Zheng said of her win: “I was so excited when my name was called during the packed room at Cisco Live.  We are very proud to have the largest number of IoT students enrolled in courses across ANZ.  We are delighted Cisco has held the inaugural awards as it is critical to encourage more females to study STEM subjects and with awards like these, we are one step closer to raising the much needed awareness that Technology careers are a viable option for women.”

Community Award Winner: Sarah Moran, Girl Geek Academy 

The Community Award acknowledges a person who is a champion in the IT Industry, driving programs and initiatives  that positively impact the STEM pipeline within the community.

Sarah Moran is known for creating a global movement to help inspire one million women into technology by 2025 through various initiatives targeting different age groups by creating opportunities for women to get into, and stay in, the tech and IT Industry. You can find out more about Girl Geek Academy here.

Sarah Moran’s award was accepted by April Staines – Cofounder and Chief Maker at Girl Geek Academy.

Rising Star Award Winner: Penny Rhode, Araza 

The Rising Star Award recognises – just that, a woman with high potential for future advancement who has distinguished herself from her peers, consistently exceeding performance expectations for her level and contributes to the community.

Penny Rhode started as a graduate and within five years moved into a management position within her company. She has continued to exceed expectations on every level amongst her peers, her managers and her clients.


Diversity Initiative Award Winner: Victoria Kluth, Araza 

Honours a female who has established a diversity initiative or project that promotes diversity in IT in a specific company or for the wider community.

Victoria Kluth is a strong advocate for women, ensuring diversity remains key to the company with 50% of the employees being female. She creates successful programs and initiatives with a positive impact, encouraging more women in technology including women in senior levels of management and working to support women to receive equitable pay.


Outstanding ICT Technology Innovation Award Winner: Jennifer Vasquez, Nestle

This award acknowledges a female in  IT, technology or business leader who has demonstrated successful results through projects, achievements or best practices in the area of Security, Data Centre, Collaboration and Networking.

There was tough competition, with the judges calling out runner up and overall winner for the category. Congratulations to the runner up, Jackie Plunkett, Loddon Mallee Rural Health Alliance.

Jennifer Vasquez is known for her ability to inspire individuals, think outside the box and develop high performing teams with strong engagement while delivering  significant, tangible and measurable business benefits.

This reputation helped Jennifer to take out the winning spot!

CIO of the Year Award: Donna-Marre Vinci, Bank of Queensland 

Dedicated to acknowledging  a female CIO, or an equivalent Senior IT leadership position, who has demonstrated outstanding technology leadership, innovation and IT excellence over the past eighteen months.

Donna-Maree Vinci is known for being a CIO role model for how business and technology can drive the strategy of a successful business. She continues to influence new business models and customer outcomes, using her thirty years of  experience to elevate her people and businesses to be competitive in the fast pace of change. She has a personal commitment to pay-it-forward and has been instrumental in working with start-ups and incubators to support the community ecosystem and continues to power innovation through a mix of emerging digital technology partnerships, true leadership and diversity of thought.

Ms Vinci said, “I was humbled to receive the CIO of the Year Award and thank Cisco for their recognition.  Great initiative and I am looking forward to paying it forward.”

Congratulations, and thank you! 

At Cisco, we’d like to say congratulations to all our winners, and thank everyone who put forward a nomination. The success of the inaugural awards, with tough competition in every category and over 70+ nominees, show just how many Women in IT are making a real impact!


Originally Posted at: https://apjc.thecisconetwork.com/site/content/lang/en/id/10313