That’s what inspired us to ask for nominations of shining examples of women making a difference in smaller companies that are not always in the public eye, but they’re quietly forging careers in STEM.
This list was assembled through public nominations, select solicitations and internal deliberations. Our list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just a reminder that the person in the office next door may be a strong role model for all genders in this fast-paced world of wireless. Feel free to tell us about your esteemed colleagues any time, for that matter.
In no particular order, here’s our list of influential women at small tech or startup entities. — Monica | @fiercewrlsstech
Julie Song, president of Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF)
Julie Song is president of Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF), a leading provider of in-building radio enhancement systems that supplies solutions to carriers including Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.
Under Song’s leadership, ADRF acquired a fully-owned subsidiary in South Korea that handles ADRF’s R&D and manufacturing, and successfully launched its active fiber distributed antenna system (DAS) product platforms used by leading U.S. wireless service providers. It’s also deployed by Fortune 500 companies and high-profile venues including MLB and NFL stadiums, Memorial Sloan Kettering hospitals, W Hotels, and Vancouver International Airport.
Song also is responsible for the company’s expansion into Canada and Latin America markets and leads ADRF’s product development efforts in digital DAS and small cell technologies. She has certified ADRF as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC) and Minority Business enterprise (MBN).
Throughout her career, Julie has mentored women in STEM, encouraging current and former female employees of ADRF to continue their education and pursue career paths in coding and engineering. She is a past member of IEE, Tau Beta Pi, and the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum (WWLF) and is active in alumni affairs for the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UC San Diego and the Johnson Business School at Cornell University.
Shirin Dehghan, Chairwoman of OpenSignal
OpenSignal’s profile has been on the rise as operators increasingly look to third parties to validate their network performance. Shirin Dehghan is chairwoman of OpenSignal, which measures mobile user experience based on real-world, on-device measurements versus drive testing. Its metrics are rapidly gaining global acceptance as a trusted, independent measure of the real experience users receive on mobile networks.
Dehghan has worked in the telecom and software industry for more than 20 years, representing the trifecta of tech excellence: a successful tech entrepreneur, a tech mentor and a passionate tech advocate. She’s worked at both startups and big companies like Vodafone and discovered that she prefers the environments at smaller companies.
Previously, she founded, led and sold software firm Arieso, a pioneering company that sold location-aware networking software. A decade later, after doubling its revenue year on year, Arieso was sold to JDSU for $85 million.
Alice Moy-Gonzalez, Director of Strategic Development, pdvWireless
Founded by the same team of executives who created Nextel Communications, pdvWireless is a dispatch-oriented business specializing in mobile workforce communications and location-based solutions.
As director of Strategic Development since January 2016, Alice Moy-Gonzalez plays a critical role in bridging the complexity of pdvWireless’ emerging business with a consistent and well-grounded appreciation of customers’ needs. This often takes her across the organizational chart, including engineering, product development, marketing and sales; it’s this flexibility to seamlessly work across the functional groups and at all levels that is her biggest asset.
She also represents pdvWireless at external events, trade shows and industry associations, and she regularly leads cross-functional projects with a strong ability to bring together multidisciplinary groups to achieve company goals.
While her wireless technical roots go back to RF engineering at Nextel, she has since evolved through roles in engineering, as well as product and business development, and demonstrates a strong ability to keep a balanced perspective of both technical and strategic priorities.
Kelly Lo, Senior Director of Operations at Cohere
Kelly Lo is serving in an upper-level STEM role at a small private company, Cohere Technologies, and is working every day to bring a disruptive technology to market that she believes will help deliver on the long-hyped promise of 5G.
Lo is making significant contributions to Cohere, and in turn could orchestrate a significant impact on the telecom industry. As senior director of Operations, she leads all aspects of supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, vendor management and information technology for Cohere’s next generation wireless communications solutions. The heart of these products will be the company’s groundbreaking OTFS wireless waveform technology, which Cohere has created to meet carriers’ escalating demands for capacity, coverage and reliability to support 5G and other services.
Lo brings more than 20-years of experience in operations management of communications technologies and products to her role at Cohere. She joined Cohere in 2014 after serving as the director of Operations at Redwood Systems. She has also held senior operations roles at Novafora, ATI and Terayon.
Heather Kirksey, OPNFV Director
The Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), founded by the Linux Foundation in 2014, was established to foster a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform for industry peers to advance the evolution of NFV and ensure consistency, performance and interoperability among multiple open source components.
Heather Kirksey oversees and provides guidance for all aspects of the project, from technology to community and marketing and reports to the OPNFV board of directors, which includes a diverse group of executives from AT&T, Red Hat, Cisco, Intel, Nokia, Ericsson and more.
Basically, OPNFV is building an open source ecosystem to make NFV a reality and accelerate the introduction of NFV products and services to the marketplace. It’s got its hands full, integrating components from upstream projects such as OpenStack, OpenDaylight and many others. But it’s already made several code releases and continues to help network operators navigate open source projects. As OPNFV director, Kirksey is the face of OPNFV and its driving force.
Previously, Kirksey led strategic technology alliances for MongoDB and held various leadership positions in the telecom industry including at Alcatel-Lucent, the Broadband Forum, BroadbandHome, Small Cell Forum, UPnP Forum, Home Gateway Initiative and other groups.