StageYou Interviews Nikki Cabus on the power of digitalization when networking in membership driven organizations

Vice President of Development, Palm Beach Tech Association | Founder, getITgirl : Women’s Leadership & Technology Initiative | Board member & Former Marketing Chair, Tech Lauderdale | Board member & Former Marketing Chair, South Florida Technology Alliance

Connectivity, networking, support systems and a knowledge hub; our entire existence, one could say, is fuelled by technology. It has increasingly become a vital resource that people across the globe cannot do without. Incredible as it may seem, digitalisation has influenced many aspects of life, making it easier for complex tasks to be completed within a short time, while producing accurate results. Organisations are able to process job profiles, complicated calculations and a multitude of other activities with technology, which otherwise would have required significant manpower and time.

In a recent interview with Nikki Cabus, Vice President of Development at Palm Beach Technology Association, StageYou drew inspiration from her experience in the use of technology within an environment that strives to connect and integrate like-minded individuals. Palm Beach Tech is a nonprofit member-based organisation that focuses on uniting and building the IT sectors throughout Palm Beach County and the surrounding areas of Florida with a goal of “Building South Florida into a Tech Hub!” Nikki is also the Founder of getITgirl, an initiative which focuses on promoting women towards leadership roles and diversifying the workplace in industries such as technology. Nikki is also the Founder of getITgirl, an initiative which focuses on promoting women towards leadership and technology roles. The organisation is a catalyst of community empowerment, and endeavours to do this by building technological tools, supplementing the economic engine and enhancing job opportunities for the population at large.

StageYou asks Nikki some pertinent questions on how digital transformation can help in bringing together people to thrive in their relevant field, by gathering essential resources onto one platform. In digital transformation the biggest thing is not having technology in the business, but how you use it, she says. It is about evaluating the technologies at hand and critically analysing the impact it could and should create, which draws our attention towards a salient feature of technology; the use of appropriate tools, amidst the plethora of digital applications. ‘It is all about the right tools, about which technology is best for you – about making the biggest impact where it is necessary in building the community’.

As a membership driven organisation, Nikki believes in the power of networking with institutions, colleges and other entities, especially in the member on-boarding and familiarization process. StageYou also discussed the opportunities a video based membership could provide for The Palm Beach Tech. In an increasingly flat world, a membership-based organisation which consists of a video cloud that gives accessibility to member profiles, or presents virtual participation options at events, would definitely be a fantastic value addition to members, she says. ‘Video gives more accessibility to those who cannot be there, yet show interest in joining, perhaps someone from a different state. There is a huge value to people with video. Anything that can connect people digitally and help them interact even if they are not in the same room physically; I see immense value in that.” Added Nikki, reiterating the efficacy of video as a digital tool that increases the efficiency of the member on-boarding process. This, she explains, is an amazing example of what digital transformation can do.

She further added the importance of drawing synergies from other states and organisations in an ever changing world where many organisations are working separately, devoid of regional visibility. She shared an example of how at Palm Beach Tech, the Executive Director, Joe Russo, is passionate about gaining and sharing knowledge from many states and localities. He travels to other geographies in order to obtain information on best practices that could be replicated to improve his own organization and, ultimately, the South Florida tech ecosystem. In this backdrop, digital transformation and technology is clearly the way forward; a doorway to obtaining best practices and contemporary methodology, using virtual information sharing sessions in order to achieve collaborative success.

This champion of change, also shared a personal experience and her exciting step into digitalisation; having been a ‘non-tech’ individual, where she first found herself using technology. As a new mother, in an effort to meet like-minded individuals who would be a beneficent support system, she was led to a website that helped her, meet, connect with, and seek guidance from women and other new mums. If one happens to draw a parallel to virtual interaction in this context, the use of video would undoubtedly be an underlying facilitator of fruitful correspondence with individuals in various fraternities. This similarly can be applied to groups such as new mums, college students, book fans, academics or individuals of the performing arts. Therefore, it was clear that though nothing can replace real face to face interaction, the power of networking through video-based memberships is significant in helping individuals overcome challenges, obtain resources and empower each other without having to physically move or commute.

Nikki elaborates how this leaves us with another point to ponder: how does applying digital transformation on yourself, create efficiencies, aid multi-tasking and help create a work life balance, often an important concept for the ‘modern woman’? Nikki shares how her personal journey from “non-tech” to “tech” is empowering and liberating her to push boundaries there by inspiring other women to embrace tools of digitalization. In today’s society, there is a certain stigma amongst women where a lot of them feel that they need to be perfect at everything, she admitted. However, women need to believe in themselves and develop a strength-based approach. This strong belief is what inspired Nikki to launch ‘getITgirl’ which provides women with educational opportunities, furnishing them with the desired skills, knowledge and a platform to network. ‘Self-analysis’, she says, is an important part of Digital Transformation. It gives people the understanding as to whether they are digitally sufficient and have the right tools to transform and impact personal growth.

Informing us about getITgirl, Nikki described how the organisation supports women in general, whatever their professional goals are. One would observe a higher male dominance in senior positions and IT jobs, as opposed to women. According to statistics, ‘’on average a woman will feel like she needs to possess 100% of the job requirements before applying for a job, whilst a man will only have 50% of requirements and apply to that same role with no hesitation’’. Nikki further goes on to say ‘’Women are not any less qualified, but we are such perfectionists that we often get in our own way by feeling that we have to be perfect to go after what we want. Whereas, women need to be more confident to just go for it, to educate themselves and go out for the right positions, for leadership roles, to work themselves up the ladder.” ‘With Digital transformation, women can now achieve things that were only once dreamed of, because it gives them the ability to use the resources available through technology, to achieve their goals.’

Technology also has the ability to take what we can do in person and make it so much more efficient, profitable and gives customers a better experience, especially in business. For instance, Palm Beach Tech uses multiple platforms that are all automated and integrated with each other. Initially, everything had to be done manually, but adapting to innovation helped the organisation enhance their productivity. The organization also has a job posting platform for future interns and employees that allows for resumes to be automatically forwarded to their corporate members who have tech talent needs.

Elaborating on their transition to new technology and processes, Nikki also added that while integrating into these technologies is important, due attention must be paid to some essential questions. What is the most efficient way to do it? Are there different platforms? Should our process change along with technology? According to Nikki, digital transformation is people based. As a former soccer player and now soccer-mom, Nikki uses a soccer analogy to explain. “Just like in soccer, if one keyplayer is removed, the whole team can fall apart.” Hence, likewise digitalization too can be made more valuable when a team of people work together to achieve their goals using technological resources available to them. The staff and c-suite alike must be onboard. You could use all the technology you want, but if you don’t get the people in on it, it becomes hard to achieve things together, she said.

‘’Companies have to become digital or they will fail. And people have to get on board fast. Otherwise we are simply wasting our resources.’’ A concluding statement by Nikki, capturing the essence of the inspiring interview between StageYou and this digital thought leader.

Nikki Cabus

With over 15 years in leadership, sales, and marketing, Nikki Cabus, has a background in Healthcare and Information Technology. She served on the Board of Directors of the TechLauderdale and Marketing Chair for the South Florida Technology Alliance. She also Founded GetITgirl, a women’s leadership and technology initiative, here in South Florida. Most recently, Nikki accepted a new position as the Vice President of Development with the Palm Beach Tech Association.

Nikki has a goal of helping build South Florida into a tech hub by connecting the community with the right resources in order to bring growth to the region which spotlights us as a place of sustainable economic and business development. This includes closing the cultural and gender gap to include people from all walks of life to create an ecosystem full of innovative solutions and a real digital transformation for all in our community!