COGNITION 2020 Showcases Vernā Myers, Ha Nguyen McNeill, and Other Talented Women Business Leaders

Post header Talented Women Business Leaders
Thought Industries
June 16, 2021

Tuesday, October 6 through Wednesday, October 7, we are hosting COGNITION 2020, our annual customer education event and user conference. (Like so much else in life at the moment, the conference is fully online!) Bringing together B2B customer training thought leaders, executives, and customers to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas, the conference boasts a fantastic lineup of speakers and two half-day sessions.

Within our lineup, we are foregrounding women business talent. Our roster includes , Vernā Myers, Customer Inclusion Strategy VP at Netflix; Ha Nguyen McNeill, COO at BSA |The Software Alliance; Patti Sanchez, Chief Strategy Officer at Duarte; Melissa Van Pelt, Senior Director of Customer Education and Community at Seismic Software; the Chief Information Officer of Software Development at a world-famous analytics and polling company; and many more.

Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace with Vernā Myers

Vernā Myers is a Harvard-trained lawyer and VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, where she leads on executing strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into Netflix’s global operations. Myers was recently described by Business Insider as one of the “power players” showing “how major corporations can help break the glass ceiling, bring down racial barriers, and push for more opportunity.”

In a recent speech delivered at Baker McKenzie, one of the world’s biggest multinational law firms, Myers said: “I have been saying for years that any company that dares to go into the future, that wants to be competent, and wants to be relevant, dare not go without inclusion and diversity.”

Recently, Vernā Myers has been focused on unconscious bias in the workplace. 

“People make all kinds of assumptions and snap judgments about job candidates based on their unconscious and even acknowledged biases,” Myers explains. “It keeps them from really seeing the candidates, and evaluating them in a fair, open-minded and fully human way.”

The pernicious power of unconscious bias means that companies often fail to hire the best individuals because of the hidden biases of those in a position to hire. Aside from race and gender, biases can stem from a person’s name, physical appearance, enunciation, home address, and even hairstyle. “Any company that is serious about creating an equitable environment needs to purge unconscious bias from their ranks.”

At COGNITION 2020, Vernā will deliver a keynote discussing all aspects of unconscious bias. She will delve deeper into its impact, and explore how organizations and personnel can build a diverse and inclusive workplace in which people from different backgrounds can thrive. For those building customer education programs, Vernā’s keynote will provide valuable insight into how to be inclusive and address all audiences equally.

Patti Sanchez on Building Adaptability and Empathy for Changing Times

Patti Sanchez has spent 30 years helping companies and brands connect with audiences via persuasive presentations and effective storytelling. Co-author of the award-winning book, Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols, Patti is now Chief Strategy Officer at Duarte, Inc. Here, she develops products for the training business, and teaches leaders how to create authentic connections with their audiences. 

In her COGNITION session, Patti will dive deep into how possessing a robust customer training program can create business resiliency in this rapidly changing world. Ours is an era in which change and disruption are constantly impacting how we connect with our teams, customers, stakeholders, and prospective clients. Patti will share valuable insights into how to develop stronger connections using the power of creativity and persuasion.

“Building skills is a never-ending journey,” says Patti, ahead of her conference appearance, “but we all need to accelerate learning so that our organizations can thrive in the current moment and get ready for whatever’s coming next. That’s why I’m thrilled to be joining the Thought Industries community at COGNITION 2020 to share stories and swap tips for developing training that gives our teams the creativity, agility and resilience they need to succeed right now.”

Ha Nguyen McNeill on Software Certification and Continuing Education

As part of a distinguished career that includes two tours in the White House, Ha Nguyen McNeill is now Chief Operating Officer at BSA |The Software Alliance. BSA is the world’s leading advocate for the global software industry, and includes many prominent companies amongst its membership.

Amongst other topics, Ha is an expert on the importance of certification. Software companies and professionals need to stay abreast of the industry’s latest policies, requirements, and practices, through certifications and continuing education. 

“Companies are increasingly reliant on software to perform their core business functions,” Ha said, in a recent podcast interview. “How you manage your software and maintain certification is becoming more and more complicated and more and more important.”

As part of our Driving Engagement with Certification and Continuing Education panel, Ha will discuss how she successfully transitioned a SAM certification to a new platform in just six weeks to help professionals maximize the financial, business continuity, and cybersecurity benefits of using licensed software back to their organizations.

Melissa Van Pelt, Karen Swindells and Brittany Tamul on the Keys Driving Better Customer Experience Outcomes through Customer Education Alignment – Moderated by Teresa Anania, VP of Global Customer Success, Zendesk

Our session, Client Training as Part of the New Model of CX, features Melissa Van Pelt, Karen Swindells and Brittany Tamul. This discussion, moderated by Teresa Anania of Zendesk, will explore effective ways to make training programs align with the CX org, and drive better CX outcomes.

Melissa Van Pelt, Senior Director of Customer Education and Community at Seismic Software, has 15 years of experience in the software technology and medical technology industries. She has a proven track record of developing successful large-scale programs, covering both internal and external education. Melissa is very excited to be a part of COGNITION 2020

“One of the most powerful learning opportunities is the social learning that occurs at an event like COGNITION. The sharing of tribal knowledge amongst all the inspirational leaders pioneering the customer education space is priceless. I am thrilled to have been asked to speak on a panel at COGNITION to discuss Customer Education (CEd) and how it has become the new model for Customer Experience (Cx).”

Karen Swindells is an Instructional Designer at Ungerboeck Software International, an industry-leading event and venue management software company to customers in over 50 countries around the world. An experienced learning professional with a demonstrated history of working in aviation and aerospace, engineering, and healthcare industries, Karen is skilled in Retail, Sales, Learning Management, Instructional Design, HR and Webinar Management. 

Brittany Tamul serves as Director of Customer Success at her organization, Arrowstream. Engaged almost all of the time with company clients, Brittany helps in creating and delivering support and training for customers dealing with food service supply chain challenges. Brittany has many unique insights into the task of customer onboarding. 

For example, in a recent podcast, Brittany discussed combining face-to-face instruction with online customer education: “With instructor-led training (ILT), they get a personal touch through direct interaction with our team. But now they also have access to foundational product knowledge through online learning courses and modules.” Arrowstream is contributing to the success of many restaurants, and Brittany is sure to offer an illuminating take on developing and implementing an effective approach to customer training and onboarding.

Achieving Customer Success Through Scalable Customer Education with Donna Weber

“I’m excited to be part of the transformation in the worlds of customer training and customer success. It’s time we come together to enable customers to help them reach first value and then maximize value with your products. COGNITION is the place to hear from experts and to share ideas to move forward together. I’m excited to speak, to listen, and to learn,” said Donna.

Donna Weber is excited, and so are we. At Springboard Solutions, Donna Weber is in charge of creating and implementing customer onboarding programs for high-tech firms of all sizes, from start-ups to established tech giants. With over 20 years’ experience, Donna is brimming with incredible insights into all things customer education:

“To continue to be relevant and to be even more important for our organizations, customer education leaders need to take a customer success focus,” she said, in a recent podcast appearance. “You have to get out of the vicious cycle of reacting to customer training requests, plan, and be proactive.”

COGNITION 2020 participants will see Donna moderating a panel session entitled The Subtle Art of Acquiring Extended Organizational Buy-In — Finding & Engaging Your Subject Matter Experts. Together with her panelists, Donna will help participants get their cross-functional departments involved in the customer education process and break down customer education silos to improve overall customer experience.

Learn From These Amazing Women

Vernā Myers, Patti Sanchez, Ha Nguyen McNeill, Melissa Van Pelt, Brittany Tamul, Donna Weber, and all the other women involved with COGNITION 2020 – whether attending or speaking – are set to play a huge role in making the event a success. There are several other names, whom we are unable to mention here due to third-party endorsement policies. Can you find them

These women don’t just bring in a wealth of professional experience, but they also bring with them another form of diversity: professional diversity. They bring different ideas and insights molded from different backgrounds. They represent personal and epistemological diversity, and highlight the essential role of these forces in the success of the modern organization.

Customer education is ever-changing. To gain the right mindsets and skills, one has to learn from the experiences of the very best. It takes a well diversified team of talent to do customer education right, and COGNITION 2020’s roster of talented women constitute a powerful team.


Thought Industries Appoints Jill Sawatzky Chief Customer Officer

Read More

Built In Honors Thought Industries With 2022 Best Places To Work Award

Read More