Xerox CTO Sophie Vandebroek Steps Down, With Eyes on Boston
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faster and faster,” she says. One caveat: “Cyber [security] could set us back as people get more conservative about what they buy and how they connect.”
Cognitive computing and smart agents — “The future is really all about a combination of machine learning, including deep learning, analytics, computer vision, and natural language processing. The combination of those technologies is called cognitive computing.”
“Smart agents will be able to do a lot of the work that people do today. Cognitive systems will be assisting people in doing their work better, helping physicians provide better care; teachers will be able to provide more personalized education, or cities can provide a better urban experience—leveraging automation and strong analytics to provide personalization of scale.”
Heading to Europe, but Will Be Back in Boston – “I have a one-way ticket to Europe,” Vandebroek says, citing the fact her mother and two of her children live there. “[But] I will definitely stay in Boston.” Vandebroek says she didn’t spend all that much time in the city over the past decade. “I was always traveling somewhere for Xerox. But in the last four months or so I really have come to know extremely strong innovation leaders within the ecosystem in the Boston area.” Her interests line up with a lot of what Boston is strong in: Internet of Things, healthcare IT, cybersecurity, and cognitive-related technologies. “I’m so passionate about them, and I want to continue to create this future,” she says.
Proud of Record Promoting Diversity – Diversity is something Vandebroek is passionate about. Not many women have risen to head the research organization of a global company: in fact, she was the only one I knew. Xerox’s CEO, Ursula Burns, became the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company when she took over in 2009.
“Xerox has always embraced an inclusive culture that reflects the communities in which we operate,” Vandebroek says. “An inclusive culture allows all employees to bring their whole self to work, both their intellect as well as their passion. Creating new products and businesses and pushing the boundaries of the unknown is difficult. An inclusive environment is essential to having a culture where innovation thrives.”
Vandebroek worked to realize that philosophy at Xerox. She is proud to have been the first recipient of a lifetime award from the Xerox Diversity Employee Resource/Caucus Groups. It reads:
Award of Distinction: Lifetime Diversity Leadership Recognition
In recognition and appreciation for demonstrated excellence in leadership and continuing advocacy on behalf of diversity: elevating the business value-add of inclusion within Xerox leadership and employees, and a role-model out into industry and around the globe.
”I will continue to be passionate about diversity no matter where I am,” she says. (You can watch her acceptance speech here.)
Next Up? – Vandebroek says she is looking at everything, from startups to larger companies to venture capital, consulting, or going into academia: