During the May 17 HITS Spring: The Hollywood Innovation & Technology Summit in Los Angeles, Women in Technology: Hollywood (WiTH) will honor the winners of its second annual Leadership Awards, acknowledging the work they’ve done in the advancement of women in entertainment technology.
This year’s honorees — Susan Cheng with Warner Bros. Technology, Deborah Fiorella with Universal Studios Hollywood, and 21st Century Fox’s Cybill Miklaszewski— spoke with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about what the award means to them.
Susan Cheng, EVP, Content Technology & Operations; Founder/Leader, Internal Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, Warner Bros. Technology
The origins of WiTH date back to March 2014, with an informal women’s gathering at Sony Pictures quickly evolving into a major independent industry organization, one dedicated to addressing the issues confronting women technology executives in the industry. And Cheng has been part of it from the beginning.
“I remember attending the first meeting in Culver City back before WiTH was formed,” she said. “And in these last few years, I’ve seen the power, the persistence and the urgency for action spurred on by the connections made across the industry. I’m honored to be associated with this group.”
Cheng is responsible for the distribution of Warner Bros. content worldwide and the technology used to capture, store, and deliver the studio’s assets, with content management, production technology, technical operations and data governance groups falling under her purview.
She also founded the Internal Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group at Warner Bros. Technology, and also serves as vice chair on the board of the nonprofit Digital Diversity Network.
Deborah Fiorella, SVP, Information Technology, Universal Studios Hollywood; Co-Founder TechWomen Los Angeles
As co-founder of the Los Angeles branch of the international TechWomen endeavor, along with 20 year’s experience leading the tech behind large-scale organizations, Fiorella’s WiTH Leadership Award isn’t surprising.
But the award itself isn’t what pleases Fiorella the most … it’s what WiTH is doing with the revenues from this year’s awards sponsorships that stands out for her. WiTH is donating 100% of the proceeds to charity organizations that mirror the goals of the organization, including The Coding Bootcamp at UCLA Extension, DIY Girls, St. Joseph Center Code Talk, STEAM: Coders and STEM Advantage.
“Donating the revenues to local organizations demonstrates WiTH’s commitment to advancing women in these fields and enabling real change within our communities,” Fiorella said.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, Fiorella leads the strategy, design and support for all technology services at the famed theme park, overseeing the technology behind its infrastructure, application support and more. She first joined Universal Parks and Resorts in 2013 as VP of infrastructure, where she led data center, network, hosting and data services for both Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.
“I’m proud and honored to receive such a prestigious award and to be represented among such an amazing group of tech women in the entertainment industry,” Fiorella said.
Cybill Miklaszewski, Director, Information Technology, Co-Chair Women in Tech, 21st Century Fox
Miklaszewski manages a team of technologists responsible for intellectual property rights management across 21st Century Fox; she recently spearheaded the company’s move of its IP rights system to a cloud architecture; she’s currently working on a proof of concept for automating rights deal point extraction, using machine learning and artificial intelligence.
But it’s also her work advancing women in technology that earned her the WiTH Leadership Award: founding the Women in Tech program at 21st Century Fox in 2017 and currently serving as co-chair of the group; and being a founding member, and co-chair for [email protected], a group dedicated to developing female leadership. Miklaszewski has also served as a mentor in the low-income high school mentorship program Aspire to Achieve.
Miklaszewski said she considers the work WiTH is doing to advance women in the technical corner of media and entertainment to be crucial for the industry.
“Having the courage to take the first step into the unknown and creating the space where leaders can grow in our industry is vital as we move toward gender equality,” she said. “Without the support of my mentors and groups like WiTH, sometimes we just don’t know what’s possible. Thank you Women in Technology Hollywood for forging paths and inspiring minds.”
HITS Spring is produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), in association with Women in Technology: Hollywood (WiTH); the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and the Smart Content Council. The event is being presented by Entertainment Partners, with sponsorship by Expert System, LiveTiles, Microsoft Azure, Ooyala, Veritone, Amazon Web Services, Avanade, Avid, IBM Security, MarkLogic, Aspera, HGST, Light Point Security, MicroStrategy, SAS, Scaeva Technologies, Zaszou IT Consulting and Bob Gold & Associates.
For more information visit HollywoodITSummit.com, and to become a sponsor and participate in the event, contact Christian Calson at [email protected], 310-945-6284.