Spotlight on Wendi Pannell, 2022 Regional Leader Award Winner

At TechNite 2022 technology leaders, entrepreneurs, and companies were honored at an awards ceremony for their contributions to the thriving Roanoke-Blacksburg tech sector. Winners included Wendi Pannell, this year’s Regional Leader Award recipient!

Wendi was recognized for her success in the workplace, and her leadership in contributing significantly to the RBTC community. Wendi serves as the chairwoman for RBTC’s Women in Technology (WoTech) committee and is passionate about creating a supportive, empowering space for women in tech. She is a highly accomplished business, technology, and change management leader with a history of transforming operations through a combination of people, processes, and systems.

Throughout her career, she has made an impact in the planning and delivery of large-scale programs and facilitating cross-functional teams to realize new organizational visions. Her superpower lies in communicating insightful, data-driven recommendations that serve as the foundation for progressive change. She demonstrates her passion through coaching, growing, and influencing others in a fast-paced, executional culture, and maintaining high velocity.

She makes time for building the village for women in technology within the New River Valley as well as her three boys, three dogs, and husband in Blacksburg, VA.

Here’s more about Wendi, in her own words.

Where is your alma mater and what did you study?

Virginia Tech, Management Science and Information Technology Class of ’99 

How long have you been a member of/involved with RBTC?

I’ve been a part of RBTC for 3 years. When I moved to Blacksburg, I immediately got involved.

What does it mean to you to win the Regional Leader Award at TechNite?

Holy cow! I am so honored to be on the list with the other nominees and humbled that I was awarded. I am also thrilled that this gives more visibility to my passion around building a village of women in technology. I’m hoping this will afford me more platforms to use my enthusiasm for the continued growth of our technology community right here in our beautiful area.

What inspires you most professionally?

This is a great question! I get inspired everyday by women that are transparent about the good and the bad in their lives, by women that follow their hearts, and those that challenge the status quo. I’m equally inspired by people that stand up for others and constantly lift others up.

All-time favorite hype song?

“Badass Women” by Meghan Trainor is my current wake-up song.

Tell us a fun fact about you!

I have a tattoo of my 3 boys first initials in binary on my wrist, combining my love of data and kids. My husband is still wondering when I’ll add his initial!

Anything else we should know?

I am so excited about the synergy that is happening in our area around technology and biotech. What I would love to see is more of our teams—our hands on keyboards members—at more events. The only way we will build a stronger IT community is to do it together. Leaders, invite your teams to attend more RBTC events, help them find their village, encourage them to step out of their comfort zones, and GROW. 

RBTC Members Contribute $4K in Donations, Swag for Engineering Students

RBTC members are making a difference for students who are the future of the technology industry.

Members of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) donated $1,600 to support a talent initiative to keep female engineering students in the region and added another $2,500 in swag donations.

The drive for members of the Hypatia Community at Virginia Tech was facilitated by RBTC’s WoTech (Women in Technology), who helped plan the fundraiser, stuff care packages, and deliver 250 bags.

Hypatia is a residential learning community for women engineering students. 

Delivery day was more than just a drop-off. WoTech members also brought hot pizza and snacks as they were able to interact – in person – with about 100 students the last week of March.

It seems like the message to students was well-received: There is a village in the Roanoke and New River Valleys who care about the future of students and want to work to keep them in our region after graduation through internships and eventually long, successful careers. 

“We were so excited to directly interact with these awesome engineering students as they picked up goody bags, study gear, and sweet swag from our technology partners through the RBTC,” said Lea Hamblin, Employee Development Manager for Ozmo. “Through meaningful conversation, we learned that this is a gap that we need to continue to close in creating strong hiring pipelines in our region. Our hope is to continue to spread awareness and build relationships with our student community along with the RBTC’s continued support.”

WoTech exists to champion and celebrate women and diversity in our region’s growing tech community. The RBTC supports the WoTech Committee by assisting with yearly mentoring, and educational and network programming including Morning Jolts, Lunch & Learn, and the Power Hour series.  

Learn more about WoTech and join us for an upcoming event.

Everything You Need to Know About WoTech

If you Google “women in technology,” many of the top results provide information about how to support colleagues in tech-based fields.

With monthly opportunities for professional development and social networking – the in-person kind! – WoTech is a safe space to share experiences and learn from others. It’s an opportunity to make new connections with career-oriented women, build each other up, and strengthen the skills needed to grow and thrive in today’s tech world.

“WoTech means a village of women where I can connect and grow, somewhere I don’t necessarily need to pre-explain what’s going on because they are living my experiences as well,” said Wendi Pannell, Vice President of Digital Content Production at Ozmo. “Women and allies that want to see me be successful, where I can also give back, save someone time by sharing my experiences and lessons learned.”

What is WoTech?

WoTech exists to champion and celebrate women and diversity in our region’s growing tech community. Our aim is to support and connect women working in technology in any season through mentoring, education, networking, and events.

“WoTech gives me a village and tribe of people that support and encourage the ecosystem of women in technology,” said Katie Beach of Katie Beach Consulting. “This is so important to grow the entire technology sector as well as to support what is still a very small population of the technology workforce.”

WoTech is a space where strong women are encouraged to be their authentic selves and when they rise, they look behind and pull the next one up. It has been a safe space to share fears and failures, as well as celebrate successes. The goal of the group is to see each other grow and offer support along the way.

WoTech Mentoring and Networking

WoTech exists to fill a need in the community.

“We have a focus on women because we as women in IT saw the need to have a dedicated ‘space’ to talk about our challenges and a way to find each other so we can lift each other up,” Pannell said. “Especially in today’s world where we’re not running into each other at conferences or meetings or social events – it’s even more important to not feel isolated, not to stall your growth and an opportunity to make an even bigger impact. While the challenges we face as women in a male dominated space have improved greatly – there are still incredible opportunities to shine a light on what good looks like and challenge the status quo.”

There’s a lot of value in networks that can help you grow and develop in your career and help you feel comfortable within the greater tech community.

“I’ve learned over the past couple years that having a strong network truly does open a lot of doors. In the couple years I’ve been involved in WoTech, I’ve been amazed at how much my network has grown – both in quantity and quality,” said Amanda Smith, Product Manager at Qualtrax. “Not only will you get fantastic advice from women who have conquered some of the obstacles you may be right in the middle of, but you’ll find that each new connection really equates to several. I’m so much more comfortable going to RBTC and other local events knowing that I’ll find a least a couple people there I’ve met through WoTech. Having that strong support system can really build your confidence if you’re new to networking.”

How to Get Involved with WoTech

Getting involved with WoTech is easy. There are monthly opportunities to join in conversations and engage with the community or participate in a networking event.

Many women come to WoTech because they may feel alone in the workplace or like they have experiences that aren’t shared within their current networks. Others attend a meeting or networking event because they want to help get more connected in the constant-growing tech community.

“I really like that the regular events hosted by WoTech vary in style and purpose,” Smith said. “The Power Hour events appeal to those looking to network over a glass of wine, Morning Jolts are more of a casual open forum, and the quarterly events provide relevant content from quality speakers. There’s a nice mix of virtual and in-person options, and you can dip your toes by starting with events that aren’t traditional networking/social style events.”

Upcoming Events

Morning Jolt

  • Monthly coffee chats with relevant conversation and helpful tactics.
  • 3rd Wednesdays each month

Power Hour

  • Social networking filled with fun, new friends, and local spirits.
  • Quarterly (March, May, July, September)

Lunch & Learn

  • Top-notch speakers discussing forefront topics.
  • Quarterly (February, May, August, November)
Stay Connected

All RBTC members are invited to participate in WoTech events. If you aren’t a member or want more information about how to get involved, reach out to us or connect on LinkedIn.

WoTech Events Kick Off New Year

Through WoTech (Women in Tech), RBTC members have two opportunities to network with allies and inspire a new generation of women in technology-related industries.

Save the Date: Morning Jolt

On Jan. 19, we’ll host our first Morning Jolt of 2022. This online coffee chat, held on the third Wednesday of each month, connects women with relevant conversation covering various topics that are important to us. We’ll also have a virtual ‘board’ where you can post jobs, mentor requests and suggestions. Come as you are, liquids in the cup are optional, and jump in when you can!

WoTech Hypatia Care Package Donation Drive

Jan. 19 is also the deadline to donate to an initiative that supports our future colleagues. In collaboration with community partners, we are putting together care packages for engineering students in the Hypatia (Women) living-learning community at Virginia Tech … and we’d love your help!  We are accepting both monetary donations and swag to include in the 260 care packages we expect to hand out to welcome the students back for the Spring semester. 

“Only 22 percent of students in the College of Engineering are women,” says Kim Lester, Director of Pre-College Programs for Virginia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED). “Historically it’s been a man’s role. If you’re a female and you don’t have female role models you’re not likely to look into that. We honestly get a lot of women in the program because a teacher told them, ‘Hey, you’re really good at math and science.’ And it’s never really dawned on them that they could do that.”

Items to donate:

  • Stress ball
  • Lotion
  • Index cards
  • Pen/markers
  • Gum/mints
  • Push pins
  • Tea
  • Comfy socks
  • Adult coloring books
  • Colored pencils
  • Koozie and water bottle
  • Chapstick
  • Mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit snacks
  • Money
Future Events
  • Feb. 9 – Lunch & Learn (Blacksburg). This quarterly session features top-notch speakers discussing forefront topics.
  • March 16 – Power Hour (Well Hung in Roanoke). A social networking filled with fun, new friends, and local spirits.

To learn more contact Ashleigh Beasley at ashleigh.beasley@rbtc.tech.