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Women in Technology and Analytics event offers important insights to attendees

By May 6, 2023May 8th, 2023Company Culture Featured Leadership
Crystal and Sushma at the Women in Tech panel

Crystal Ashby (left) and Sushma Akunuru at the Women in Technology and Analytics event.

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) recently hosted a Women in Technology and Analytics networking event at its Philadelphia headquarters for more than 100 people. The annual event is designed to support individuals thinking about advancing or starting a career in technology.

Becoming a better leader and building a career

After an introduction by Mike Vennera, executive vice president and chief strategy, corporate development, and information officer, the event kicked off with an insightful discussion featuring two senior Independence leaders.

Crystal Ashby, executive vice president and chief people, DEI, and communications officer, and Sushma Akunuru, senior vice president of Business Technology Services, had an engaging and inspirational conversation about leadership, their career journeys, and the bold moves they took to get to where they are now.

Here are five bits of wisdom the two leaders shared during the conversation:

  1. Do not be afraid to be bold and to get out of your comfort zone. Be willing to embrace the unknown, especially in technology and analytics, because the fields are so innovative.
  2. Advocate for yourself. Believe in yourself first and build a foundation to stand tall on. You set the tone in interactions with others; always lead with positive intent and purpose. Also, criticism can often help to make you better.
  3. Find mentors in people you meet. Strive to be a mentor as well. Mentoring can happen in every interaction, on every level.
  4. Strive for progress, not perfection. It’s okay to be wrong and try again.
  5. Prioritize self-care. Make sure to give back to yourself, breathe, and reflect.

Getting started in technology and analytics

The event also featured a spirited panel discussion with associates from Business Technology Services, Analytics, Human Resources, and other areas at Independence.

Here are some of their tips for those looking for a career in these fields:

  • Apply for positions even if you do not check all the boxes. Get in the room and show them your determination.
  • Unpack your skills and break them down further, identifying transferable skills.
  • Educate yourself on what you’re looking to do through books, LinkedIn, podcasts, local groups, etc.
  • Find an industry you love, and a space that feels safe and respectful.
  • If you are Cloud or Microsoft Office certified, list it on your resume.
  • Self-motivated, teachable, problem-solving personalities are desired. The industry is looking for people who are engaged, able to bring different perspectives, and attentive to details.
  • New graduates are encouraged to fill their resumes with their senior thesis projects, what classes they took, and what career pathways they are interested in.

Learn more about opportunities at Independence in technology and analytics – and many other areas – at