By Nadia Beidas
On February 4, ACM [Association for Computing Machinery] and IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] hosted renowned guest speaker, Florence Hudson, who has quite an impressive career and list of credentials.
Hudson worked at IBM for over 33 years. Her roles there included Director of Corporate Strategy and Internet of Things Business Development, VP Marketing & Strategy for System z Mainframes and VP Strategic Planning on Loan to the Society of Women Engineers.
She was also an aerospace engineer at Grumman and NASA. She gave a TEDx Talk about Sustainability on a Smarter Planet. Hudson consults and also speaks globally about a plethora of topics, including machine learning, block chain, healthcare, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion.
Currently, Hudson is the CEO and founder of FDHint, a firm for advanced technology, innovation as well as diversity and inclusion. For more information about FDHint, please visit https://www.fdhint.com/.
Hudson is a special advisor for the NSF[National Science Foundation] Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at Indiana University as well as the Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University.
She is part of the standards committee for IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology. Hudson also leads a global IEEE working group on standards for Clinical IoT [Internet of Things] data and device interoperability. “We work together to develop standards to make the world a better place.”
Hudson serves as editor-in-chief with Springer Publishing Company for the book “Women Securing the Future with TIPPSS[Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, Security] for IoT [Internet of Things].” Hudson and 16 other global women leaders are published and discuss the importance of increasing awareness of privacy and security challenges in the Internet of Things, as well as the actions people can take in the face of these challenges.
Her education includes a BSE from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and executive education at both Harvard Business School and Columbia University.
During the lecture, Hudson talked about her life journey. She showed photos of family, mentors and several notable people who helped influence her life and helped her clarify her values. For example, her brother used to wake her in the early morning to see the Apollo missions launch, which led to Hudson wondering how it was accomplished when she was around three years old. She said that was the day she became an aerospace engineer.
She served on a Title IX panel of experts with 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Hudson said Title IX regards equality in sports for boys and girls. For example, if a school invests in a soccer team for boys, then the school has to invest in a soccer team for girls, Hudson said.
Hudson added that there is a STEM clause in Title IX for gender equity in educational programs with federal funding.
She also mentioned interacting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was a former student of one of Hudson’s friends. Like Hudson, Sotomayor is also a graduate of Princeton. Sotomayor was also the first in her family to go to college.
On her personal journey, she also had pictures with Sally Ride, the first US female astronaut, and Mae Jemison, the first US African American female astronaut.
During her talk, Hudson went over important factors to achieve success in one’s employment, leadership roles as well as quality of life.
Hudson offered this advice, “Look around the planet, see what needs to be fixed, and go do it.”
Hudson stressed the importance of planning one’s life for a purpose. She advised students to identify their goals for work and life and then GROW to achieve these goals. She further explained GROW as: “set goals, assess reality, determine options and work it.”
She showed a map she created of her life plan and encouraged students to make their own life plan.
She also showed a pie chart where one can visualize how they balance one’s time by identifying how much of the slice is spent on school and work, sports and activities, community, friends and oneself.
Hudson also said it is important for everyone to believe in themselves, even when others do not. She advised everyone to be on their own side when speedbumps occur. As far as dealing with the speedbumps in life, she said, “Keep rolling over them until you get where you’re going.”
She also mentioned the importance of building a support network of mentors and “personal cheerleaders” to encourage one on their journey to success. She said these are the people who would remind one how great one is.
Hudson also advised everyone to stick to one’s instincts and values. She said there would always be situations where one could choose not to speak up when something is not right, but she encourages everyone to stand for ethics.
She stressed the importance of building different types of skills, such as collaboration, leadership, business and financial, communication and technical skills.
Hudson emphasized the importance of building a good team and teamwork as a part of collaboration skills.
In order to build leadership skills, Hudson said one should serve on a board of directors, such as 4-H. She said this is good experience to learn how boards make decisions.
She also advised everyone to continually build on their technical skills and “become an expert in your field.”
For women who face challenges working in the field of technology, Hudson advises them to “just keep going and find people you can talk to.” She emphasized the important of women surrounding themselves with the people who matter and seeking inspiration and support from those people. She also said for women to look at role models for aspiration, people who have done what they are wishing to do.
Hudson touched on her definition of the meaning of life in 60 seconds. “Your job while you’re here on this planet, is to determine the unique gifts God gave you and use them for good every day.”