ივნისი 09, 2021
Grace Hopper Award Winners Announced
Grace Hopper Award Program has been launched in Georgia this year by joint efforts of the USAID Economic Security Program, TBC Bank, Mashav Center and UN Women. The Award recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations that lead to positive changes in information and communication technology (ICT) industry and empower women in the sector.
On June 2 at TBC Concept Conference Hall, Grace Hopper Award Program identified: the Emerging Leader, the ICT Champion, The Tech Startup, the Women Empowerment Program, the Diversity Supporting Organization and the Supporter of Women’s Empowerment in the ICT Sector. In this article we will introduce the winners: the women, the organization and the program.
The Emerging Leader — Ana Robakidze, Head of Engineering at Clientela
Ana entered the ICT field independently at the age of 13. She started by coding and in a year she independently created the first website which soon gained thousands of users. This is how she started to love coding and managed to study coding and computer science at New York Tech with full scholarship.
Anna’s American experience counts a number of success stories: setting up small startups, working for small and big corporations, presenting Georgia at leading conferences and, finally, managing New York, Europe and Asia teams in engineering at Clientela. Later, she decided to use her American experience in Georgia and established a Georgian team of Clientela, which directly cooperates with Cartier, Gucci and other large conglomerates.
Anna has demonstrated that technologies can lead to amazing changes. With her exceptional academic achievements, professional goals and positive impact on society from an early age, she gained the status of the Emerging Leader too.
ICT Champion – Maka Makhatadze, IT Academy STEP Georgia Branch Co-Founder and Director
Maka is a physician, mathematician and a specialist of computer sciences and has many years of experience in the field. She worked for a computer company Alta and for Intel later. In 2015, she established IT Academy Step Georgia Branch, spreading knowledge of computer technology and promoting employment of young professionals as well.
Maka has been providing active assistance to the Ministry of Education on educational technological transformation and evidence-based decision-making within the entire education system. One of her biggest achievements is a program that handed personal computers to over 500 000 first-grade students of Georgia’s primary schools.
“Technology and computerization have shown me the world from an entirely new angle and have moved me into a new dimension” says Maka, who has been granted Grace Hopper Award, gaining the title of the ICT Champion.
The Tech Startup – Phubber
This category recognizes a startup either owned or led by a woman that has significant success in ICT field. Phubber was found to be such a startup. It is an area for social commerce where users buy or sell their clothes, shoes, accessories and self-care products.
It should be mentioned that 32 out of 41 employees are women. The number of customers are over 100 000 and the amount of attracted investments is 500 000 USD. The startup has become extremely successful since it was established - it has taken part in various competitions, gained thousands of funding and even joined an acceleration program in Silicon Valley for a month.
The Women Empowerment Program – Coding School for Women, Business and Technology University
A series of ICT trainings is one of the important parts of the school, which has over 300 beneficiaries in technology. As part of the trainings, participants study front and back-end development, artificial intelligence and machine learning programs, data analytics and other programs.
Their main aim is to involve more women in technology, fight gender stereotypes and support employment of women in well-paid jobs. The program also aims at raising awareness of women in IT field, raising women’s skills in technology and promoting their employment at leading international or local IT companies.
The Diversity Supporting Organization – GeoLab
GeoLab is an innovation and new technology laboratory and training center. Since 2015, it has carried out various projects promoting involvement and equality of women in the field. In 2015, it even had a special scholarship program for women, aimed at motivating them in the field of technology.
In 2020, it joined WEPs (Women’s Empowerment Principles) and carried out a number of campaigns and programs to fight the negative stereotypes in the field of technology preventing women and girls from studying and being employed in the field of STEM. Currently, together with UNDP, GeoLab offers graphic design, front and web development courses to girls living in the regions affected by conflict.
The Supporter of Women’s Empowerment in the ICT Sector – Mako Kurtiashvili – General manager at Smart Academy, Managing partner at Smart Web, Co-founder at Nikola Tesla School, strategic advisor at HIRO
Mako is a psychologist by profession. Yet, she says that she decided to follow her interests and meet new challenges. This is how she found herself in the field of information technology, in which she has been working since 2011. She first started her career at Web Solutions, later worked for web portal of Tbilisi City Hall and she joined Smart Web in 2016.
She has been the general manager at Smart Academy since 2018. Currently, the Academy offers over 40 training courses. Since 2020, Mako established a training space affiliated with Smart Academy - Nikola Tesla School, where children gain education from an early age. Participation in establishment of employment platform Hiro.ge is one of her achievements too.
The Grace Hopper Award Program Jury
The nominations for the Grace Hopper Award Program have been assessed by professionals in the field of technologies and innovation, ranging from academic to industry fields:
- Nana Dikhaminjia, Vice Rector for Innovations and Science Popularization at Ilia State University;
- Maria Doliashvili, Software Engineer, Microsoft;
- David Chehelashvili, Executive VP, Xpand;
- Tamuna Papava, Senior Program Manager, Amazon;
- Paata Sirbiladze, E-commerce Lead, USAID Economic Security Program;
- Mariam Kobalia, Gender and Youth Expert, USAID Economic Security Program;
- Nino Nanitashvili, digital development consultant; Ambassador of Women Techmakers.
- Mark McCord, Chief of Party, USAID Economic Security Program;
- Kate Bunina, Managing Director, USMAC, Silicon Valley accelerator;
- Hawra Milani, Partner Solutions Specialist;
- Natalia Villalobos, Feminist in Residence, Google.
Grace Hopper Award has been granted in six categories. In addition to public recognition, the winners will participate in a study program in Israel. The visit is implemented in cooperation with Mashav Center and the Embassy of Israel in Georgia. In addition, TBC Bank and UN Women will provide special prizes to the winners of certain categories.