Calline Sanchez is not only a leader in technology, she’s a strong advocate for girls who want to be part of engineering’s female-focused revolution.
She works with local groups, including the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation, to get young women excited about formerly male-dominated fields.
Sanchez manages disk, flash and tape storage for IBM and leads 450 engineers and scientists from Tucson and far beyond, including Guadalajara, Mexico; Shanghai and Tokyo.
Her first IBM job was at its headquarters in Armonk, New York. That gig, which was temporary, took her around the globe as part of government, corporate and technology projects. She traveled to more than 25 countries before arriving in Tucson in 2009, calling it “the Silicon Desert.”
Q: IBM has been at the forefront of the speedy advances in emerging technology. What are some of the new frontiers that IBM’s business in Southern Arizona expects to explore?
A: The IBM Systems Storage organization’s strategy focuses on security, flash everywhere and software-defined storage. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO and chairman, has stated that “big data is the world’s natural resource for the next century.” And IBM’s engineering focus in Southern Arizona is grounded in data storage, which delivers thoughtful data management attributes and replication services while securing the data being serviced.
Q: What is IBM’s view of its role in overall economic development in Southern Arizona and what are some specific initiatives it can be involved in?
A: In 2017, IBM was granted 481 U.S. patents for inventors residing in Arizona. IBM spends more than $9 billion with U.S. suppliers each year and more than 60 percent of annual research and development investment is here at home in the U.S. Tucson is a key U.S. location and hosts a client center in Southern Arizona.
IBM Tucson continues to strongly support our local institutions. We have maintained a strong partnership with University of Arizona across all colleges. During my 10-year tenure on the board of advisors for the management information systems program – and with IBM’s continued involvement and participation – the MIS program has moved up to No. 1 and No. 2 respectively on U.S. News & World Report’s College Rankings for undergraduate and online graduate MIS and IT programs.
Our Hispanic Business Resource Group has been a long-standing partner with the UA College of Engineering’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
IBM Tucson is proud to be working with Pima Community College on a New Collar Job program initiative. “New collar” jobs are roles in fast-growing fields such as cybersecurity, cognitive business and cloud computing that do not always require a four-year college degree.
Q: Who are some of the business, individuals and organizations that can have the most significant impact in the technology sector in Southern Arizona and how is IBM engaging with them for the overall good of the sector?
A: Most of us have a smart phone, and no one knows where the next best idea will come from – but one thing is certain – we must continue to harness the power of data, and NEED to enable the skills for our future success.
IBM Tucson has continually supported this effort by engaging with local community partners and STEM activities, including:
• IBM Tucson is a proud sponsor of SARSEF’s Science Week, as well as SARSEF’s AZSTEM Adventures. These events engage more than 95,000 students annually to further their interests in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and encourage them to pursue STEM careers.
• Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering – or EX.I.T.E Camps. These week-long camps empower middle school students in the STEM fields. IBM volunteers work with the students, providing learning sessions on project management, engineering, mentoring and day-to-day life as an engineer.
• Volunteering and assisting with our local Girl Scout chapters, elementary school STEM nights, junior high and high school career fairs – all to continually promote STEM for our future.
Q: What other insights can you share about the IBM’s future in the region and the impact it can have?
A: IBM has been the top patent- innovation company in the U.S. for 26 years – a foundation that will enable us to continue to innovate in support of AI/cognitive. Since Watson was introduced in 2011, IBM has been on the forefront of development of a new generation of cognitive systems that can analyze massive amounts of data. Here in Tucson, as our site is a Center of Competency for Data Storage, we continue to play a large part in IBM’s overall portfolio.