Helen Norris, CIO, Chapman University

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Helen Norris is the Chief Information Officer at Chapman University. She has almost 30 years’ experience working in IT leadership roles.  Originally from Ireland, Helen has earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, and a Master's degree in Computer Resource Management and Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis.  Helen holds a project management certification (PMP) from Project Management International ( and is a fellow of the Educause Leading Change Institute.  She serves as a board member of the Southern California Society of Information Management ( and a trustee of the National Endowment for Financial Education (   Helen also previously served as the Director of the Sacramento Women in Technology International network (

What superpower do you want most?  

You mean the one that I don't already have? To read people's minds. To understand what it is that people want. I feel like you have to listen really hard to what people are saying and I spend a lot of time practicing listening.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?  

I grew up in Ireland in the 70's which was a little different than here. I was the first to go to college in my family, as my parents worked in factories, and I didn't have a professional background. I was good at math and I wanted to be a math teacher or an actuary. When I was finishing up college at Trinity College in Dublin, there weren't many choices to move cities in Ireland, so I went to live in Germany. I didn't speak any German, so I worked for American Army in Germany. There, I was a computer programmer where I accidentally fell into IT and never went back. Back in the early 80's they didn't have computer science so I did a lot of fortran and pascal. In 1984 I moved to the US where I lived in St. Louis. Since 1997, I've been all over California where my first job in higher Ed was at UC Berkeley. After that, I worked at CSU Sacramento and then moved to Chapman University in 2014. Now, I oversee 75 people and we provide IT support to both the entire main campus and our health science campus.

How are you inspiring young women in STEM areas? 

I do a lot of work with different organizations in Southern California to support advancing women in technology. We do have a Women in Science and Technology group at Chapman and I have spoken to them on several occasions, and also connected them with other women leaders in technology.  During Women's HerStory month, we did an interview that we were able to Facebook Live which was to stress to women, students, and faculty who don't often see women in leadership positions in technology. I am also connected to STEM Advantage and Advancing Women in Technology (AWT); organizations that provides scholarships to women and underserved communities studying in STEM fields in different universities.

You were the first female interview conducted after 30 previous interviews, does that surprise you?

It's important to be visible to show people that you can be a woman and lead in the field. I never once had a female supervisor or manager in a technology field.  I do see a lot of women represented in management on the application side or project management side of information technology, but it is difficult to break through to the most senior roles.  So sadly, I’m not surprised to hear that.

How do you think women could change IT? 

I remember people had this image for IT of somebody in the back playing dungeons and dragons, eating pizza, and now that stereotype I hope is gone. Our work is really focused on what we can do for the organization and how you support the business. To support the business, you have to know the business and know what their priorities are, otherwise you are just a utility. I want to be an asset to the organization and learn the needs of the community.

What are the top priorities for a university or for education?   

I think it really varies between all universities and university systems. When I was at the CSU's and the UC's, the priorities and focus were on costs, as we had constant budget pressures. This included being more efficient and helping students to graduate in a timely fashion. In universities it was harder for them to get the classes they wanted and we had to make sure we provided the ability for students to graduate. We wanted to understand what students’ needs were  and how they can use technology to graduate.

At Chapman, we are very focused on personalized education. Rather than developing online education, we’d prefer to use technology in the context of personalized learning. Also, we are adding more faculty with a research focus. We have to have the right connection to other universities, the efficiency has to be there. Using technology to enhance our mission and define the role of collaboration in teaching. When students leave here, they are expected to be able to collaborate.

Students have access to Google tools and O365. The way students use them are mostly for email, and then they use One Drive or Google Drive for collaborative purposes. People use One Note a lot to just manage their lives and we use a variety of tools. In our College of Educational Studies, Google apps are very popular. It varies a little bit from discipline to discipline, but Google Tools are very popular.

We have all these tools (phones, iPads, laptops, etc.) and yet we still struggle to get information to students—how can we get something in front of them and how do we make sure we are delivering the right messages to them? When we bring people from this generation into the workforce, how will we train them? It's so easy to get in front of them but it's harder to communicate.

What are your hiring challenges in regards to millennials?  

We have hiring challenges in general; it's very difficult to hire technical people in Orange County. There's lots of competition in Silicon Beach and we struggle to find candidates in fields like security. They want a cooler place with sexier tools, and  it's just not as exciting as working for Snap Chat. We are more of a traditional environment and workplace. We have to figure out how to provide the flexibility to be attractive to millennials.. I do think that millennials are working in places where they like their mission, and since we are mission driven, that becomes more attractive.

Where do see technology in education in the next 5 years?   

The ability to use VR to train and educate people. That's something that will continue to see growth in the next 5 years. We are beginning to look into it for example, in the health sciences we are already using virtual cadavers. That's an area we are going to see massive growth. In the future, as patients, we may be treated by someone who was completely trained virtually.

What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?

A couple of things: we are focused on business intelligence and dashboards, and very focused on providing more and more data to our colleagues around campus. Our Data Warehouse is built on a Microsoft SQL back end and we're using something specifically built for our universities. Those are the kinds of tools we are looking at. We're doing a lot of work in the classroom with technology enabled space and learning spaces, and transforming classrooms to spaces that are much more inviting. We want to have students share information back and forth; the same kind of thing in informal learning centers.

Are you connecting with any universities abroad?  

We have a campus in Irvine that we've done a fair amount of teaching to and from the main campus in Orange with. We frequently have guest lecturers via Skype. Our Irvine campus is interesting because we opened a School of Pharmacy four years ago, and our dean is very forward thinking. The entire curriculum is made with technology in mind and the students interact with it from the day they come on board.

What's your philosophy on premise or moving to cloud?   

Moving to the cloud makes a lot of sense in a variety of ways. I think it's harder to move to the Cloud than we're led to believe, with the first reason being cost. The other challenge we have in universities is that the cloud efficiencies of scale are really harvested because you go to a standardized model. Some things can be outsourced, but if I'm supporting researchers in data science, they need cutting edge, non-standard technology that will remain on premise.

Do you talk to students about what they need from you?  

I spend time with our student government association to make sure we are providing the services they need. We do reach out and talk to students and faculty as much as we can and try to consider their points of view.

How about security?  

Security is always a major issue. We need to be open as a network and we have to balance that need with security. It's much more difficult to dictate things students can and cannot do. We've always had students bring their own devices and we've had to manage that for a long time. Over the last couple of years, we've really focused on education and outreach. We work hard with students and do a lot of work on phishing campaigns and password management since we have a transient community. It's a big deal in information technology and we think as a university setting we are a target. Hackers have used universities as launching pads since we maintain so much personal information.

If you could give guidance to a CIO, what would you tell them?

I would tell people to build your relationships across the organization. Sometimes, people just build them internally and manage up, but you have to manage out. Build your relationships across the organization and give them your time. It’s difficult for more introverted people,  but just take an hour,  (only 2.5% of your time if you work 40 hours a week) and reach out across the organization and just talk to people about their needs and about their departments and groups..

What advice could you give to your longer younger self?   

I wouldn't give any advice. I learned from all of my mistakes, so for the most part, I am glad I made them. I would just say learn to listen and build relationships.

Was there a woman in history that you admired or looked up to? 

There are so many women to admire, like Maya Angelou. Any women like that have done amazing things. Harriet Tubman I admire from history. More recently, women in Silicon Valley like Marisa Meyer from Google—I admire her and think she's made mistakes but that's what I would admire about her.

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WIT Holiday Technology Toy Drive & Lunch

Give back this holiday season with the San Diego IAMCP Women in Technology community! Come enjoy lunch and networking at Vintana Wine + Dine in Escondido on Thursday, December 15th from 1pm-4pm. The Technology Toy Drive will be providing toys for San Diego's Adoptive and Foster Care Boys & Girls, with toys being delivered to Straight From the Heart in San Marcos.
Please bring a new, unwrapped Techie-Toy for a donation.

For more information and to purchase tickets click here


The Future of Tech: See how Women in Tech are Inspiring Great Minds - Big Dream movie screening for Hawkins High School's Critical Design and Gaming School

Managed Solution is passionate about changing the ratio of women in tech through networking events, movie screenings and educational workshops. We provide resources to help young women understand and expand their potential as future leaders in technology – from the classroom to the boardroom.
We’ve partnered with JA Achievement and other educational institutions to schedule private and public events in 2016 for young women interested in learning more about the industry. We are also in the process of planning networking events for women leaders who are interested in sharing their success stories and networking with likeminded professionals.
To schedule a private event or for more information, please visit our 2016 WIT Event Page (events are currently being held in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Scottsdale).

What Is A Big Dream Movie Screening?

Big Dream follows the intimate stories of seven young women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passion in science, math, computing & engineering. From small town Iowa to the bustling streets of the Middle East, Big Dream immerses viewers in a world designed by and for the inspiring next generation of girls.
Microsoft is pleased to underwrite and co-produce the Big Dream documentary directed by Kelly Cox and co-produced by Iron Way Films. Learn more.

Managed Solution WIT Contacts:
Tina Rountree, Business Development Manager, Managed Solution
Cherla Ramsey, Director of Business Development (Arizona), Managed Solution
For more information on scheduling a similar event, please call 800-236-6012.


Congratulations to Tina Rountree, Business Development Manager, for being selected as Managed Solution's December 2015 Player of the Month.
This award is given on a monthly basis to a Managed Solution employee who has done an amazing job of exemplifying and living up to the Managed Solution Core Values.
The Managed Solution leadership team selected Tina Rountree as Player of the Month because she not only exceeded her sales goal for the year, but she continues to enhance her knowledge of technology with certification courses, conferences and seminars while also inspiring her colleagues and other women in the field. Tina recently became the President of the San Diego Community of Women in Technology (WIT), whose mission is to connect creative, innovative and hardworking women for the purpose of providing mutual support in achieving professional and personal goals. On December 10, 2015 Tina organized two great events highlighting women leaders who are working in technology. Hoover Academy of Information Technology students who are interested in pursuing careers in technology enjoyed an afternoon event featuring a movie screening of Big Dream, Q&A with a panel of women leaders and some fun games. The Future of Tech: See how Women in Tech are Inspiring Great Minds held at the Microsoft Stores in San Diego, CA and Scottsdale, AZ were both special evenings for women leaders who are passionate about changing the ratio of women in tech. Several guests brought their daughters and together guests shared their knowledge and resources to help young women understand and expand their potential as future leaders in technology – from the classroom to the boardroom.
Tina's passion for technology is inspiring to her colleagues, young women, as well as leaders in technology, therefore leadership is excited to award her dedication and hard work with this month's Player of the Month.
Managed Solution recognizes outstanding employees (players) by awarding them Player of the Month. This award is given on a monthly basis to a Managed Solution player who has knocked the socks off of one of our members of leadership by living up to the Managed Solution Core Values on a daily basis. Our values are important. They’re the foundation behind all we do. Players of the Month are recognized and highlighted on the Wall of Fame and rewarded with an extra day of PTO to use on a day of their choice.
Congratulations to all of our Players of the Month:
Here at Managed Solution we thrive in an energetic, performance-driven environment where results, teamwork, and quality of customer satisfaction are recognized and rewarded. Our corporate culture is diverse, open and creative. We look for team members with proven experience, a strong sense of passion and dedication to the highest levels of excellence, technology and business ethics.
At Managed Solution, we strive to be the best technology based company by investing in our top assets; our people - CAREERS

famous-women-of-technology 3

Famous Women of STEM: Shaping the Future of Women in Tech Careers

Women have made significant contributions to the development of new technologies, overcoming many barriers to study and work. In years past, women have been barred from colleges and universities, denied the opportunity to work in certain fields, and had their work obscured or stolen by male scientists. As a result, the history of technology is told as a story of great men. But these women, among many others, shaped the technology that we use daily along with the futures of those inspired to go into tech careers.

Hedy Lamarr

large_Hedy_Lamarr-Algiers-38Film buffs know Hedy Lamarr as the sultry female lead of "Algiers" and "Samson and Delilah", but the world owes her a much greater debt. She is the co-inventor of frequency-hopping and spread spectrum, techniques that were used to shield military and other sensitive communications during World War II are now used in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies.

The Human Computers

large_ENIAC16The work of Frances Spence and Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli also helped shape the outcome of World War II. They worked during an era where a computer was a person who calculated sums, and during the war, computers were mostly women. Performing these calculations by hand, or even simple machines, was too slow for a war that moved at the speed of flight, so they were chosen to help program the first electronic digital computer, known as ENIAC, in 1946.

Ellen Ochoa

large_614px-Ellen_OchoaWomen's contributions to peacetime technologies have been vast. Ellen Ochoa took women's technological innovations to the stars through her work with NASA. She developed optical inspection and image refinement methods for automated examinations of images from space. Ochoa became the first Latina to head NASA's Johnson Space Center. She also got the chance to experience space personally as the first Latina to go into space, eventually completing over forty hours of space missions.

Kimberly Bryant

large_KimberlyBryantFounder-Black-Girls-CODE-400x361Kimberly Bryant is doubly shaping the future of technology with her organization Black Girls Code. Bringing both innovation and diversity to programming, Black Girls Code makes programming careers accessible to a population historically shut out of STEM careers through a six-week course on coding and robotics.

Rana el Kaliouby

large_rana el kalioubyMany consumers struggle to understand new technologies and advances in computing. Rana el Kaliouby is helping computers understand us with her innovations in facial recognition and reading technology. One of the founders of Affectiva, her inventions help people on the autism spectrum read facial expressions, assist researchers as they track subjects' emotional changes, and advertisers track reaction to campaigns in real time by reading viewers' expressions.

Dr. Crystal Jensen

large_crystal jensen (2)Technology must be accessible in order to improve people's lives. Dr. Crystal Jensen, founder and president of Integrity Technologies, Inc. makes educational technologies available to Native and indigenous communities, which often lack technology-rich learning environments. Through online learning and social media, Jensen helps people access educational and economic opportunities and other information to improve the quality of life in traditionally marginalized communities.

Sandrine Mubenga

large_Sandrine M_portrait_0Improving energy efficiency and expanding the use of renewable energy sources will be one of the chief challenges of the 21st century. Sandrine Ngaulula Mubenga is helping us meet this challenge by developing a hybrid car that runs through hydrogen and solar-powered hydrogen fueling stations. Mubenga's prototype reaches a maximum speed of 119 miles per hour, outpacing concerns about the effectiveness of hybrid cars.

Amy Sheng

large_amy-shengTechnological advances have rapidly improved access to health care. But your doctor's office may soon be as accessible as your mobile phone, thanks to Amy Sheng. Sheng's team at CellScope is developing tools that work with mobile phones to connect with medical offices for remote examinations and tests. The hospital trials, if successful, could transform models for triage and monitoring chronic conditions.


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